Region
Tohoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Sendai
Population
2,365,204

Miyagi

Escape to Tohoku's friendly hub

With vibrant Sendai at its core, Miyagi makes the ideal base for exploring the remote corners of Tohoku.

Miyagi Prefecture is about as close to a regional hub as you’ll get in the remote northeastern Tohoku region which makes it a great base for exploring the surrounding, less accessible prefectures. Colorful Sendai is the prefectural capital—its tree-lined avenues are packed with lots of great shops and restaurants. Friendly locals are always happy to strike up a conversation with an unfamiliar face.

Sendai Japan Cityscape

Sendai is Miyagi’s colorful capital.

The extremely popular Tanabata Festival means they’re certainly used to visitors, who usually combine a trip to nearby Matsushima to witness one of Japan’s top three scenic views. There’s hiking around Kinkasan’s Golden Mountain, hot spring action at Naruko and Akiu, and skiing at Onikobe. Grilled cow-tongue is the definitive dish – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Tanabata Festival Sendai, Miyagi

Photo by: Verena G. Sendai’s Tanabata Festival is a colorful display that’s popular amongst foreign travelers.

It’s less than two hours on the bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai, from where you can easily access the rest of Miyagi’s attractions. Stay a while in the city to explore the monuments to the legendary feudal lord Date Masamune, nicknamed the One-Eyed Dragon, who transformed Sendai from a small village into a major stronghold. One such monument is Masamune’s mausoleum which is ornately decorated with bright colors and intricate designs.

After dark, head to the lively Kokubuncho area, affectionately seen as the little brother to Tokyo’s Kabukicho red-light district. In early August, Sendai becomes a riot of color during the Tanabata Matsuri when streets are decorated with thousands of giant handmade paper streamers. It’s a beautiful sight, though you’ll have to jostle with the two million or so spectators for a good view.

Matsushima, Japan coastal landscape from Mt. Otakamori. Miyagi Prefecture

Head to Matsushima for gorgeous coastal vistas.

Matsushima is a collection of around 260 islands scattered through the bay. Shaped by wind and waves into gnarled formations, the islands are known as one of Japan’s most stunning views. You can catch a cruise around the bay or take photos from one of the lookout points in the temples along the coast.

Whisky anyone?

In the northeast of Miyagi, Naruko Onsen resort is home to five hot spring areas renowned for their skin-softening sulfur waters. Naruko is also the birthplace of traditional handpainted kokeshi dolls which you can watch being made in the various shops along the main street. At the opposite end of the prefecture, Akiu onsen deep in the mountains was the fave pick of the Date clan. It’s on the way to the Golden Mountain of Kinkasan which is a gorgeous spot for hiking. For a bit of stoic R&R, you can stay overnight in the simple Buddhist lodging at Koganeyama shrine.

Trivia

Whisky anyone?

While you’re in Miyagi Prefecture stop at the Nikka Whisky Distillery for a factory tour and free whisky tasting. Just try not to drink too much.

More

Places to visit

sendai-tanabata festival

Sendai Tanabata Festival

Reunited lovers at Japan’s most iconic Tanabata celebration.

Zao Fox Village Japan

Zao Fox Village

For fox sake.


Matsushima, Japan coastal landscape from Mt. Otakamori. Miyagi Prefecture

Matsushima

Poetry in ocean.

autumn colors of Naruko Gorge in Japan and nice blue and cloud background

Naruko Onsen

An abundance of hot springs and nature for hiking and winter sports.


Sendai

The feel of a small town combined with the convenience of a big city is what makes Tohoku’s metropolis so appealing.

Kamimachi

Every April this peaceful northern town comes alive from its famous tiger festival.


Ishinomori Manga Museum

Meet the 60s, 70s and 80s Japanese superheroes!

Okama

Sittin' pretty on the borders of Yamagata and Miyagi.


Tashirojima (Cat Island)

Tashirojima (Cat Island)

For friends of felines.

Tsukasa Beef Tongue Restaurant

Best tongue in town.


Miyagikyo Nikka Whisky Distillery

Come for the factory tour and stay for the free whisky tasting.

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