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2 nights, 3 days


1st day
Sightseeing in Matsushima and Shiogama

Head north of Tokyo for a visit to Sendai where there are hot springs and sushi bars to enjoy.
Sendai is the central city of the Tohoku region and many of its historical sites are related to Date Masamune (1567-1636), the warlord who constructed the town.
Not far from Sendai is beautiful Matsushima Bay with about 260 islands. Experience the glorious view that inspired poet Matsuo Basho to write 'Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow road to the deep north)' in 1694.
Make your way to Sendai Station on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station or Ueno Station (approx. 2 hours) and change at Sendai Station.

We recommend purchasing a Sendai Marugoto Pass available at JR East stations, View Plazas and JTB counters. This pass allows unlimited rides on all JR lines, busses and subways in the Sendai area. The 2-day pass is 2,500 yen.

Take the Rapid Service on the JR Sengoku Line (17 minutes) and get off at Hon-Shiogama Station.
There is a tourist information center situated inside the station, so feel free to pop in there.

Fare: Sendai to Hon-Shiogama 320 yen

A 10-minute walk.

Shiogama-jinja Shrine and Museum
Shiogama-jinja Shrine dates back to around the 10th century, and is the largest shrine in this area.
There is a 200-step stairway, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
Surrounding the shrine are historic cherry trees designated as a national treasure. At the beginning of May, when the trees are in full bloom, the view is breathtaking.

Visit the museum where swords, armor and helmets are exhibited.
You can also peruse the reference materials on salt making, which is the origin of the town's name, Shiogama.
Make your way to the rooftop of the museum for a panoramic view of Matsushima Bay.

Sightseeing time: 90 minutes
Admission: 200 yen

Walk back to the station.

Eating tasty sushi
Shiogama Port is one of Japan's major fishing ports. You will find plenty of tasty sushi made from fresh seafood.

A 10-minute walk from Shiogama Station.

Shopping at Marine Gate Shiogama
This marina complex includes restaurants, seafood shops and souvenir shops as well as a ferry terminal and sightseeing boats.
In mid-July, the spectacular Minato Matsuri (Port Festival) attracts thousands of people and there's a magnificent fireworks display at night.

Make your way to Matsushima on a sightseeing boat.

Enjoying a cruise to Matsushima Bay
There are about 250 islands set in a calm sea.
Matsushima Bay is regarded as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan. We recommend booking your cruise beforehand.

Cruising time: 50 minutes
Fare: 1,400 yen (for a cruise around Matsushima Bay)

Arrive at Matsushima-sanbashi Pier. A 5-minute walk.

Visiting the Kanrantei Matsushima Museum
Kanrantei is a teahouse originally built at the castle of warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) and later handed over to Date Masamune. Date Masamune, known as 'Dokuganryu (one-eyed dragon)', was the first lord of the Sendai Clan and he developed Sendai into a large and prosperous city.
In one of the rooms of the teahouse, the sliding screens are covered in gold foil and the walls in stunning artwork.
A small museum at the back of the teahouse displays suits of armor and works of fine art.

Admission: 200 yen

A 5-minute walk.

Visiting the Zuigan-ji Temple
This temple, the most famous in the Tohoku region, was built by Date Masamune and is designated as a national treasure. After the first gate, a line of cedar trees continues for 200 m to the next gate.
The hondo (main hall), measuring 39 m wide, 25.2 m long and 14 m high, is divided into 10 rooms. You will find yourself mesmerized by the exquisite artwork on the sliding screens.
If you want to learn about Date Masamune, a visit to the houmotsukan (museum) would be worthwhile.
Note that the gate closing times vary according to the season.
1 December - 31 January of the following year 15:30
1 February - end of February; 1 November - 30 November 16:00
1 March - 31 March; 1 October - 31 October 16:30
1 April - 30 September 17:00

Sightseeing time: 90 minutes
Admission: 700 yen

A 5-minute walk.

Visiting the Godai-do Temple
This small, charming temple is dedicated to five gods and is considered the symbol of Matsushima.
Located on a small island in Matsushima Bay, people walk across a red bridge to pray here.
It was first erected in 807 and the present reconstruction was built in 1604.

Sightseeing time: 20 minutes
Admission: free

Stay overnight in Matsushima
Try the fresh oysters. The best season is from October to March.

2nd day
Akiu-onsen Hot Spring and the majesty of nature

Akiu-onsen is a perfect example of the hot springs in the Tohoku region, surrounded by the majesty of nature.
Make your way to Sendai Station from Matsushima-Kaigan Station on the JR Sengoku Line. It takes 35 minutes on the Rapid Service.

Fare: 540 yen

Change to the Miyagi Kotsu bus. Note that the bus service is rather infrequent.
Take a bus to Akiu-onsen or Akiu Ootaki from the No. 8 Bus Stop at the west exit of the station (50 minutes). Get off at the Akiu Bunka-no-Sato Center.

Fare: 780 yen

Sendai Akiu Bunka-no-Sato Center
This is a tourist information center, commonly known as the "Akiu-Sato Center". Visitors are introduced to the Akiu-onsen Hot Spring through videos and a large map. Traditional handicraft and artwork are also on display.

A 3-minute walk.

20 minutes by bus from the Akiu Bunka-no-Sato Center-mae Bus Stop to Akiu Ootaki.

Fare: 610 yen

Akiu Ootaki Falls
One of the three great waterfalls of Japan.
The majestic falls are 55 m high and 6 m wide, and the thunder of the water blocks out every other sound. You can view the falls from an observation deck, but we strongly recommend walking along the trail to get closer to the waterfall basin.
There is a teahouse where you can stop for a rest.

Sightseeing time: 40 minutes

Take a bus from Akiu Ootaki and get off at Akiu Onsen Yumoto (20 minutes). A 20-minute walk.

Fare: 610 yen

Stay the night at Akiu-onsen Hot Spring

3rd day
Sightseeing in Sendai
A 5-minute walk from the Akiu Bunka-no-Sato Center.
Walking through the Rairai Gorge
This is a walkway about 1 km long surrounded by huge, strangely shaped rocks that have individual names. The view of the deep canyon from the Nozoki-bashi Bridge is exceptional. The walk takes 20 minutes.

A 5-minute walk.

Visiting Akiu Kougeino-Sato
You can visit nine workshops where traditional craftwork is made. For a fee, you can try your hand at painting and lacquering kokeshi dolls or tops, or fabric-dyeing. You must book 1 week in advance. We recommend inquiring at the Akiu-Sato Center or the Sendai Tourism & Convention Bureau.

Sightseeing time: 90 minutes

Take a bus from Akiu Bunka-no-Sato Center-mae to Sendai Station (50 minutes).

Fare: 780 yen

Take the Loople Sendai Circular Route Bus from the No. 15-3 Bus Stop at the West Exit Bus Pool in front of Sendai Station. The 1-day ticket is convenient because you can get on and off as often as you like.
You can buy a ticket for 600 yen at the West Exit Bus Pool Information Center in front of Sendai Station. It costs 250 yen each time you ride the bus if you buy individual tickets.

Visiting the Zuihoden Mausoleum
15 minutes from the station by bus. Get off at the Zuihoden-mae Bus Stop.
Surrounded by nature's rich bounty, this mausoleum houses the remains of Date Masamune.
The original building was constructed in 1637 but was destroyed by fire in the Second World War. The current structure was rebuilt in 1979 and is beautifully decorated in the original Momoyama style preferred by warlords of the 16-17th centuries.
Pay a visit to the reference library where funereal items are exhibited.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 550 yen

Take the Loople Sendai Bus (4 minutes) and get off at Hakubutsukan/Kokusai Center-mae.

Visiting the Sendai City Museum
The museum is filled with fascinating information on the history and culture of Sendai. There are portraits of Date Masamune and a display of the armor and weaponry that he used, in addition to beautiful examples of sliding screen paintings. We recommend the picture postcards for sale at the museum shop as souvenirs.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes

A 12-minute walk or take the Loople Sendai Bus (3 minutes) and get off at Sendai Joshi.

Visiting the Sendai Joshi (Sendai Castle) ruins
These are the ruins of the Date Castle, also called Aoba-jo Castle. It is said that Spanish missionaries who visited at that time lavished praise on this castle as being the strongest and most excellent.
At present, only the stone wall and tower have been restored.
At Sendai-jo Kenbunkan, a description of points of interest is provided through 3D simulation or models.
From where the statue of Date Masamune on horseback stands, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Sendai.

Take a rest at the teahouse and try a famous Japanese zundamochi, a rice cake topped with sweet edamame (green soybean) paste.

Sightseeing time: 60 minutes
Admission: 700 yen

Take the Loople Sendai Bus. Pass the Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai Media Park and Jozen-ji Street with its beautiful avenue of zelkova trees and arrive at Sendai Station (35 minutes).

Shopping on Chuo-dori Street
There is a series of three arcades, and when the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri Festival is held from 6 to 8 August, they are filled with colorful paper and bamboo ornaments more than 10 m tall. There is a great sense of competition to create the most spectacular display.
About two million people from all over Japan come to enjoy this festival.

All of the ornaments feature miniature kimonos, fishing nets or cranes made of paper, so look out for them. These items reflect people's wishes for improvement in their needlework skills, a bountiful catch of fish and health.

The famous sasakamaboko (fish paste in a bamboo leaf shape) or colorful Japanese paper used for Tanabata ornaments are recommended as souvenirs.

5 to 10 minutes on foot to Sendai Station. Return home from JR Sendai Station on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line.

*Photo (C) Miyagi Prefectural Government Tourism Division