At a Glance
Ishinomaki is the second largest city in Miyagi Prefecture. It consists of a large downtown area which is somewhat crowded, though spacious in comparison to Sendai. It is relatively suburban, though it has many stores and recreation opportunities not available in smaller towns. This is commonly referred to as Ishinomaki City. However, the actual territory of Ishinomaki includes an expansive amalgamation of smaller fishing villages and farming communities which make up the city as a whole.
It is a large port town of approximately 125,000 people. It is worth noting that the city was heavily affected by the East Japan Great Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11th, 2011. Recovery efforts are still ongoing, but a large part of the town was thankfully relatively undamaged. The city once again offers many luxuries, plus eccentricities and exciting experiences not available in larger cities like Sendai, Morioka, or even Tokyo.
DID YOU KNOW? As of March of 2021, Ishinomaki has a special RPG app! The game has a full story based in Ishinomaki and you can get bonus items by using the GPS function on your device to verify your location! Specialty items, such as sea cucumbers, oysters, and even Ishinomaki fried noodles appear in the game! Check it out HERE!
It isn't available in English yet but if you want to use it to study while you travel or just play around in the fantasy Ishinomaki, please check it out!
Places to Eat
Places to Visit
Things to Do
Right across the street from Ishinomaki Station is a row of chain izakayas. Popular haunts include Iroha, Shoya, Uotami, and Hana no Mai.
This is a classy izakaya restaurant down the road from Yamada Denki and Xebio Sports.
This is a nice izakaya just behind McDonald’s
This grilled meat restaurant with an all-you-can-eat option is located on the bypass road near the AEON mall, next to McDonald's.
This restaurant near Amerikaya and McDonald’s has a wide variety of food, and serves beer. This is a good place for a small party.
Located on Tachimachi, this family bar and restaurant has great pizzas and lots of choices. Get there early though, as they sometimes sell out. Dough has played host to many ALT parties. It is closed on Tuesdays.
This is a fantastic yakitori restaurant on Tachimachi. It has a large, red lantern in front, and a cloud of smoke coming out of it. Cheap drinks and food, a lack of a seating charge, and exciting patrons make this one of the premier spots on Friday and Saturday nights. It is rather small so there may be a wait.
Okawa Elementary School Memorial
Site of possibly the worst tragedy to come out of the 2011 tsunami; it was the only school in Tohoku which was completely washed away by the tsunami due to ineffective and biased leadership along with minimal planning. A sobering place, yet worth a visit to pay respects and to prevent it from being forgotten.
Site of Kadonowaki Elementary School
At the base of Hiyoriyama are the ruins of Kadonowaki ES. Left as they were after the tsunami, you can tour the site to see not only the power of the waves but also the fires which followed shortly thereafter.
Located atop Hiyoriyama, this shrine overlooks the mouth of the Kyukitakami River as it meets the Pacific Ocean. Quite serene, in spring it becomes quite busy as people flock to get pictures of the blossoms overlooking the ocean and city below.
Not too far away from Kashimamiko Shrine is Haguroshrine, atop Haguro Park. While not having any views, what sets this shrine apart is its unique goshuincho - the book for obtaining the seals of different shrines and temples. It features the honden with the Blue Impulse soaring overhead in formation!
Located on the summit of Mt. Makiyami, this shrine is famous for its autumn foliage. In the spring and summer, there are numerous flowers blooming on the road up, and there's a near uninterrupted view of Ishinomaki below.
Hiyoriyama Park - 日和山公園
This park is on top of a pretty steep hill. It overlooks the sea and along the park's edge you can see the pre-disaster photos of the area and compare it to the current rebuilding efforts. On top of the hill is where many people had evacuated during the Great East Japan Earthquake, and there are tsunami markers along the path up. It is a humbling experience to witness, yet it provides hope for the future to those watching the rebuilding efforts. Within the park there are several statues to the Japanese poet, Basho and is home to the Kashimamiko Shrine, where the iconic torii gate stands.
Miyagi Tsunami Memorial Museum
Opened in 2021, the museum is nestled in the middle of the Minamihama Memorial Park. Inside you can see various pictures of the area before and after the tsunami, along with other areas throughout Miyagi. The museum is completely free to enter, and tour guides are available.
Ishinomaki Manga Museum
This staple of Ishinomaki’s identity looks like some sort of spaceship. Dedicated to Ishinomori Shotaro who has been adopted as a hometown hero by Ishinomaki, (though born in Tome) and penned the Kamen Rider and Cyborg 009 series, it offers an in depth look at the history, composition details, and culture of Japanese cartoons. You can also see tons of his manga statues in the neighborhoods surrounding the museum. The museum itself is fun for a target audience, but the building is cool.
Miyagi San Juan Bautista Museum - 宮城県慶長使節船ミュージアム（サン・ファン館）
The San Juan Bautista was a real ship commissioned by Date Masemune himself. The ship was one of the first of its kind being a Japanese-built Spanish galleon. This museum details the rebuilding of the ship in 1993 and is located close to where the original was made. In the museum you can watch a movie showing the step-by-step recreation which are merely a speculation as the original blueprints were lost and only the measurements remained. The ship has been dismantled due to its deteriorated condition, but the museum still stands.
An event hall and gallery. Well-known among ALTs and locals for being the site of the Ghibli exhibition in 2021, there are other events and exhibitions held here throughout the year.
Ishinomaki Kanan Park Golf Course
These fantastic facilities are located off road 108. Get on the 108 in Kanan or further down in Maeyachi. If coming from Kanan, the turn will be on your left hand side. Look for big turquoise signs that have arrows pointing up. If coming from Kanan, you will pass a Lawson's. If you reach a stop light you've gone too far. After your turn, you will go up a steep hill. You will come to an intersection where you can either continue going straight downhill or make a right turn. Make that right turn. Go straight up and it will be on your right. There are 3 different courses to choose from, with 12 holes each. Courses range from beginner to advanced levels. The owner is a man in his 30s who is really friendly and will come watch you play and say, "Nice shot," when you make a good shot. It is 600yen for one game. It is closed on Mondays, and on Tuesdays if Monday is a national holiday.
Just beyond park golf is Yuugakukan, a huge complex with a nice gymnasium, a large organ and a fabulous lap pool with a massive hot tub. It also has a small but new workout gym. The basketball courts cost a few hundred yen. Basketball or badminton equipment rentals are extra, so feel free to bring your own. Bring indoor gym shoes. The pool costs 500 yen, and a swim cap is required.
Located in Ishinomaki City, about a 10 minute walk from the station on Tachimachi (the covered road), this fitness center houses a small gym, a dance and aerobics room, and a lap pool. Walking from Ishinomaki station, with Shoya on your left, take a left at the covered street walk straight for about 5 minutes, and it will be on your left.
Purena Miyagi Bowling Alley
If you have the urge to roll, the lanes are across the river from the main part of town. Go straight on road 16 heading away from Aeon, toward the river. Keep going straight and go over the bridge, and it is on your left. You will see big bowling pins. If you go through a tunnel, you've gone too far. Next to this bowling alley is an ice skating rink, but beware; both ALTs and the locals claim that the skates are very bad, so most people bring their own.
This multi-purpose facility is located on the first floor of AEON. Coming from the Jusco, take a quick left at the first exit of the mall on that side, and you'll see JEUGIA (in English) on your right. It offers a wide variety of classes, from yoga to ballroom dancing, to karate, to hip hop dancing. The staff here is very helpful and patient, although no one speaks English as of last inquiry. They have a guide to classes posted outside that comes with pictures.
This is a very nice karaoke place with nice rooms, good selections, and good refreshments. It is across the tracks from City Hall, around the corner from the 7-11 near Homac and Seria. Parade is now the king of Ishinomaki karaoke since the tsunami damaged some of the other establishments.