At a Glance
Kesennuma city is the hub of northeastern Miyagi, and with a population of over 60,000, it also ranks as the 5th biggest city in Miyagi. Due to sustaining massive damage during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, people from all over Japan came here to help with recovery before eventually settling down. They usually say the same thing: "I came for the volunteering, stayed for charm".
Surrounded by rugged mountains on one side and the open sea on the other, Kesennuma retains both a natural beauty and small town charm while still having all the amenities (well, almost all) that a bigger city has to offer, making it the best town in Miyagi.
Places to Eat
Places to See
Things to Do
Niji no Mori - 虹の森
This bakery is located at the base of the hill on the way to K-Wave. Really good pastries, and if you have time to kill, you can order a drink and chill on the second floor. Rumor has it they also have bagels!
Koyama Confectionary - コヤマ菓子店
Koyama Confectionary has banana milkshakes, macarons, and buttermilk roll cakes! The cafe is super cute as well. You can even get a macaron of Hoya Boya's face!
Burian - ブリアン洋菓子店
Burian is a newly opened patisserie. Nestled between Taiwa Restaurant and a kamaboko store. It has a big sign out front, you can't miss it!
Palpaw - パルポー
A lovely little pastry shop/restaurant in Kesennuma. Known for its "gotto" pastry (made by layering cookie dough of different types), they also have some delicious pasta dishes as well!
Anchor Coffee Mother Port - アンカーコーヒー マザーポート店
A cafe located in Tateyama. Only completed in 2015, Mother Port has a modern vibe with lots of natural lighting. Mother Port also serves pretty good food, and their dinners, while pricey, are actually quite gourmet.
Travelers' Cafe by Anchor Coffee - アンカーコーヒー内湾店
Another store by Anchor Coffee, located in Naiwan by the pier. A nice place to study or just relax while looking out to the port. Other branches of Anchor Coffee are in Tome in AEON Mall, in front of Tohoku University Hospital, and one near Smile Glico Park.
Made famous due to its owner being the one and only Ken Watanabe, the food is quite decent as well. Their pizzas are decently sized, and reasonably priced as well. It tends to draw a line thanks to the famous owner, so try to arrive early!
Don no Shibaraku - 丼の芝楽
A donburi restaurant attached to a house. Basically run by one mother, so it can be a little slow, but the food is great. Their curry-katsudon is fantastic, but other favorites include their salmon-don and the chicken katsudon. The restaurant is a little small so if you have a large party you may want to think about eating somewhere else, especially if the restaurant is busy. At times you can see the husband and son just being lazy in the back while the mother does all the hard work. So come and support her labor with your money!
Naniwa no Takoyoshi - なにわのたこよし
Takoyoshi is run by an Osaka native and has Osakan food including takoyaki.
Umi no Ichi - 気仙沼 「海の市」
A shopping mall specializing in fresh seafood, Umi no Ichi also has an eatery where you can buy many shark snacks like nuggets, shark fin buns, and shark fin ice cream.
Shinraiken - 新来軒
A small, family-owned restaurant that serves different types of food, including ramen and a variety of teishoku. It's kind of hard to find because it blends in with the surrounding residential area but there's a big parking lot across from it.
Menmaru - めん丸
A really good ramen shop heading toward Motoyoshi. It's across from the Lawson and the CREA Supermarket off of Highway 45.
Maruki Chuka Soba - まるき中華そば
In business for over 60yrs, this is a go-to spot for ramen in Kesennuma! Cheap, delicious, and filling are all words used to describe the ramen made here. Their broth is fish based, so expect to taste the true sense of Kesennuma in each spoonful.
Kohaku - 琥珀
Kohaku is a popular boba/tapioca milk tea chain that recently came to town. Located in the same shopping area as Ichirin, across from Naiwan.
Sanmamiya 2 - サンマミーア２
Sanmamiya features Kesennuma's version of taiyaki pastries in the shape of sanma fish. Also has a variety of tapioca drinks, which has non-dairy options as well!
Miyagi Lapras PokeLid - Geodude and Lapras
Did you know that Miyagi's Support Pokemon is Lapras? There are 35 decorative Lapras Manhole Covers all over Miyagi! You can see this one outside of Anchor Coffee at the port!
Geodude is Iwate's Support Pokemon and since Kesennuma is on the Miyagi-Iwate border it's fitting to see them shake hands!
One of Kesennuma's biggest tourist spots. Oshima is a small island town off the east coast of Kesennuma. It’s popular for its beaches in the summer, particularly Kodano hama (小田の浜) for swimming and stand-up paddling and Kugunari hama (十八鳴浜) for its sandy beaches that squeak when you walk on them. Some beaches on Oshima have bioluminscent algae that sparkle as you swim at night. Oshima also has some of the best views of Kesennuma. For example, from the top of Mt. Kameyama (亀山), from the southern tip of Tatsumaizaki (龍舞崎), or from the newly constructed Oshima Bridge, which connected Oshima to Kesennuma in April 2019. There are also plenty of local restaurants, including a group of shops at Nodoka (野杜海) by the old port, where you can try local dishes including fresh seafood, ramen, and yuzu soft-serve ice cream.
At Cape Iwaisaki, you can see two very impressive monuments. The Dragon Pine and a Statue to the sumo wrestler champion Hidenoyama Raigoro. There's also a small blowhole and a small lighthouse. Every new year there is always a group of people who try to get a picture the first sunrise of the year directly in the dragon's eye.
Dragon Tree - 龍の松
When the 3.11 Tsunami hit Iwaisaki, it washed away nearly everything. However, there lies a pine tree in the park that was twisted into a shape of a dragon that overlooks the Iwaisaki cliffside.
Ruins of Koyo SHS - 旧向洋高学校
On Iwaisaki are the ruins of the former senior high school for this area. The ruins are largely left as-is since 2011, making for a sobering reminder of the forces experienced on that day.
Kesennuma Memorial Park - 気仙沼市復興祈念公園
Atop a hill overlooking central Kesennuma, this park contains the names and ages of those lost during the tsunami in 2011. There is also a sail shaped room for offering wishes or prayers towards the sea, for it is both the source of riches and sorrow.
Atago Shrine - 愛宕神社
A local and unattended shrine that features many mosaic embellishments including a map of Kesennuma.
Uminoko Shrine - 海の子神社
Not only does Umi no Ichi have places to eat, it also has a shrine dedicated to Kesennuma's mascot, Hoya Boya! There is a gift shop filled with only Hoya Boya merchandise!
Enunkan Gardens - 煙雲館庭園
A historical garden that has centuries old trees, was home to gold-mining areas, and used to be a samurai home.
Akasaka Public Park - 赤坂公衆公園
A small park in the west of Kesennuma. In mid June countless hydrangea bloom here, making it a good spot to view them in your own backyard!
Alice Box - ありすボックス
Kesennuma's very own manga cafe. There are tons of manga along the wall as well as free wifi. There's a man there who serves food and drinks. Usually there's anime music playing in the background on a large TV but I think upon request you can watch some sort of anime on it. Like other manga cafes you can stay overnight for about 1500 yen.
Kesennuma Shark Museum - 気仙沼シャークミュージアム
Located in Umi no Ichi, there is Kesennuma's famous Shark Museum! It's not very big but it's still very cool! On the outside you can spot the red building the way to the port. They have several life-sized models of different species of sharks; great white shark, whale shark, and so on. This is one of Kesennuma's rebuilt areas. Actually, the Shark Museum used to be a stand alone blue building. You can actually see the direct damage it withstood on Google Maps. There is a tsunami marker on the outside of the museum to mark how high the tsunami actually rose.
Ice Aquarium - 氷の水族館
Right next to the Shark Museum is the Ice Aquarium! Basically an add-on to the Shark Museum, the Ice Aquarium is more like a giant refrigerator for different kinds of fish! You can see which fish are native to the Sanriku Coast here!
Mukaeru - 迎 ムカエル
Located fairly centrally, this small collection of shops has two different cafe (both listed in the restaurant guide); an Italian restaurant; a souvenir shop; and a clothing store.
Murasakijinjamae - 紫神社前商店街
A massive two story shopping mall full of different stores, none of which are chains! There are places to buy fresh fish, bars, and even an Italian restaurant located inside.
Yuwaeru - United Villages - 結
Just in front of Murasakijinjamae is Yuwaeru/United Villages. Another shopping street, it has quite the collection of shops, from the wonderful bakery この後どうする？ (So what'll we do after this?) to a lovely Chinese restaurant, Ichirin.