ITINERARIES Matsushima, Akiu Onsen and Sendai Visit one of Japan's top three scenic spots, and a historic hot spring resort town
Experience the glorious views that inspired poet Matsuo Basho to write the famous poem known throughout Tohoku, "Oku no Hosomichi" (Narrow Road to the Deep North) in 1694.
- The breathtaking beauty of pine-covered islands in Matsushima Bay
- Relaxing in Akiu's hot springs
- A historical walk around Sendai
How To Get There
A two-hour ride from Tokyo by shinkansen, Sendai is the gateway to Tohoku , Japan’s northeastern region known for its remoteness and rugged landscapes. The feudal lord Date Masamune (1567-1636) constructed the town, and his legacy lives on in the castle ruins and monuments throughout the city.
Aoba-dori Street, lined with Zelkova trees, is a great place to walk and shop, as well as the shopping arcade in the city center, Chuo-dori. From August 6 to 8 the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri’s colorful paper ornaments line Chuo-dori’s streets.
On the way to Shiogama Port from Sendai , stop by Shiogama-jinja Shrine, surrounded by cherry trees. There are 200 steps to the top. In the museum, you can see swords, armor and helmets on display, and information about salt-making. At the Marine Gate Shiogama, grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants and seafood venues. The sushi is made from Sasanishiki rice, a high-quality Miyagi brand.
There are many cruise courses available in the Matsushima Bay area, lasting from 25 to 50 minutes. The Basho Cruise is a popular option, a one-way course from Shiogama Port to Matsushima Pier, which takes you across the bay and passes by some of the most famous islands and impressive rock formations. The islands are works of Mother Nature, eroded over time to form compelling shapes and patterns. Each island has its own special name.
After your cruise, take some time to visit the historical temples within walking distance of the pier. Godaido Temple is a 2-minute walk from the sightseeing boat pier across a red wooden bridge, and Kanrantei teahouse is a nice place to see Japanese sliding screens covered in gold leaf.
Get information and learn about Akiu at the Akiu Bunka-no-Sato (The Akiu Tourist Information Center). From the information center, the majestic Akiu Otaki Falls are a 20-minute bus ride. Reaching 55 meters high and 6 meters wide, you can view the falls from an observation deck or walk along the trail to the base of the falls.
After visiting the falls, make your way back to the information center. From there, you can take a 20-minute walk to Rairai Gorge, with a one-kilometer walkway surrounded by giant rocks. Take in the views of the canyon from Nozoki-bashi Bridge.
From the gorge, Akiu Kogei-no-Sato (Akiu Craft Village) is a 5-minute walk. Try your hand at making a local craft alongside one of the resident expert artisans. You need to book at least one week in advance. Some of the hands-on experiences include indigo fabric dyeing and painting Kokeshi dolls.
Make the most of your time in Akiu Onsen by booking an overnight stay at one of Akiu’s many ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) or guesthouses.
North of Sendai is the hot spring resort town Hanamaki Onsen, a place to relax in curative waters and enjoy a relaxing stay at one of the four Japanese inns in the area. It's also a great base for exploring the coastal area around Kamaishi a two-hour train ride away, currently being rebuilt after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and also the site of Rugby World Cup 2019 games held at the newly built Unosumai stadium.