At a Glance
Osaki City is a sprawling region in the Northwest corner of Miyagi, nestled against the mountains of Yamagata. It is definitely a rural area and there are many locations with natural beauty to be found. The rail coverage in the area is sparse and trains run infrequently so ALTs spend a lot of time in their cars. Traditionally, ALTs gathered in the central city of Furukawa (today's central Osaki). Osaki in general hides a lot of hidden gems among its many towns and hills.
The former towns that surround and make up Osaki are below.
A post-modern town that tore down its trees in favour of low rises and the right to be called a city. Some may call it ugly, but to those of us who know the ‘Fu, it is a place of restaurants and bars; grocery stores and overstuffed electronics shops; and a gateway to Sendai and Tokyo via the Shinkansen. In short this old river city is not so bad.
Date Masamune, famed warlord of Sendai, had his samurai training school here. It is an interesting spot to spend a few hours. There is a physical science museum based on the five senses. Every autumn, Iwadeyama hosts a hot air balloon festival.
Located on the Tohoku train line it has good access to both Matsushima and Sendai. The gym, a short distance behind the train station, has a minimal fee with free membership. There are many decent restaurants and izakayas and one small restaurant offering “the best eel North of Fukushima”.
Tourist hotspot of northern Miyagi. Come here for great onsens, outdoor sports and a wide selection of kokeshi dolls. With all those mountains there are some great hiking opportunities. The Naruko Gorge is a beautiful walk by yourself or with friends. Ten minutes from the bridge you can hike up to the museum on a small path. In Onikobe, you can walk through “Hell” (a hot sulfur spring) and rest at the nearby geyser and outdoor public onsen. There is also a small ski resort at Onikoube that is great for an easy day of skiing and boarding. If you come in the fall, when the leaves are changing color, be prepared for traffic.
There is a nice hill to view cherry blossoms in this town plus a public sports facility where you can reserve a “football” field for an afternoon or two. Tajiri is also home to the local park golf course.
This town has fields filled with sunflowers during the summer. Established as a village in 1889.
Places to Eat
Places to Visit
Things to Do
Kawahara Drive-In - 川原ドライブイン
Located along the banks of the Eai River in Furukawa, this drive-in is about as classic as you can get. There's a large U-shaped counter inside, and they serve all the 'classic' dishes you could ever expect from a Japanese drive-in. Additionally, they offer a morning curry/ramen service, with meals starting at 7:00AM sharp!
Bakery Aoniji - パン工房青い虹
Less of a bakery and more of a cafe/restaurant. While there are freshly baked breads on offer, there's also a dedicated restaurant menu inside.
Kagamoku - 準喫茶
What some would call a bit of a 'passion project'. The owner's husband not only makes the decor, but also built the roaster for their coffee beans. If you get the chance, order the cake and have a cup of coffee to go with it. You won't be disappointed!
Rishu - さとのわ光種
Quaint cafe located in Higashi-Naruko. There's only the owner, so orders might be a bit slow. Yet if you're looking for a nice and quiet spot, here has you covered.
Coffee House Jun - コーヒーハウス純
Located in central Naruko, this cafe is sort of a staple in the community. Popular with both locals and tourists alike, they're known for their omurice.
Cafe Persimmon - カフェ・パーシモン
Located next to the Chubachi Museum in Iwadeyama, this relatively modern cafe is owned by a jazz lover. True to form, he also has a very nice hi-fi setup playing jazz throughout the day. The cafe also has its own special blend of coffee made from beans grown in Colombia.
Blue Farm Cafe - ブルーファームカフェ
In central Iwadeyama is Blue Farm Cafe. They specialise in Japanese butter sandwich cookies, filled with locally grown fruit along with different types of nut depending on the variety.
Morris Tea House - 英国茶房森栖
Looking for a piece of the English countryside in Japan? Here's likely the closest north of Tokyo! Not only is the building itself themed on traditional British housing, but majority of the furniture is from England. The owner even drives an imported British car! Reservations are not required, but recommended for the full experience.
Cafe & Snack Piccolo - カフェ＆スナックピッコロ
Not far from Tajiri station, this shop sells some very large dishes - from ebi fry to different types of Hamburg steaks, and even a few pasta dishes. At night, it turns into a snack bar.
Star Maker Cafe - スターメイカーカフェ
Right off of Route 4 in Sanbongi, this cafe roasts their own coffee! They also sell pastas and pizzas, making for a good stop for dinner.
Not too far from Furukawa station, this cafe is both quiet and quaint. There's some baked goods for sale, and some very good matcha coffee late.
Also close to Furukawa station, this cafe specialises in American style (and sized) pancakes! If you want pancakes as large as your head, this is the place for you.
Hitotsubudo - ひとつぶ堂
Easily to overlook, this old house turned bakery sells only a few items. Don't let that discourage you though - what they do sell is made in the old ways, full of flavour and without any pomp. They're likely to sell out shortly after ordering, so try making a call/reservation for items instead.
In between Furukawa and Tajiri is Takeda Bakery. If you're looking for some very good anpan and crusty breads, definitely try to visit!
A very tiny bakery in Sanbongi. It looks like a shed, but on the inside there's different types of freshly baked breads for sale. If you'd like to get something before seeing the sunflowers, it's hard to beat here!
Momijino - もみじ野
Not too far away from the above mentioned Morris Tea House is Momijino. Quite rustic, this shop sells pure buckwheat soba, making for some intensely delicious noodles. If you're looking to experience some of the best soba in a rural house, definitely try here!
Itoshouten - 伊藤商店
Located along Route 347, this very popular shop serves some amazing tonkotsu ramen. There's a near constant line out the door, and cars routinely back up in order to try and get a spot. If you manage to visit, it's well worth it!
Kureha - 紅葉
Just off Route 4 is Kureha ramen. Very unassuming, they have some incredibly good shio ramen despite looking like they were once a cafe.
Lapras Pokemon Manhole - Dugtrio and Spearow
You can see Dugtrio and Spearow in Osaki City outside the Kamuro; a popular eatery and tourist spot!
Lapras Pokemon Manhole - Lombre
You can see Lombre at Atagoyama Park near Kappa Pond! Lombre = Kappa? Shikama legend has it that a Kappa God lives in Shikama and there is a shrine dedicated to the water spirit.
Sanbongi Sunflower Hill - 三本木ひまわりの丘
The main draw in Sanbongi. In summer the fields along Route 4 come alive with sunflowers as far as the eye can see. In spring rapeseed blossoms are the main attraction. There usually are a few vendors selling sunflower related items in the summer as well.
Cosmos Park - コスモス園
The classic flower of early autumn is plentiful here, with the hillside becoming covered in cosmos of all colours and at least eighteen different types. It gets quite crowded as the day goes on, so come later in the day or early in the morning.
Kawatabi Nanohana Field - 川渡温泉菜の花畑
Located along the banks of the Eai river as it passes through Naruko, this fairly decent field was once a farmer's plot before it was eventually left to grow wild. In spring it's quite the destination, with a small festival being held each year.
Hagurosan Park - 羽黒山公園
While much smaller than Shibata's castle park, this park is nonetheless quite popular in early autumn when the red spider lillies start to bloom. In fact, it's ranked as one of the top locations to see them in Miyagi - even if parking is quite hard to come by.
Osaki Michi no Eki - 道の駅おおさき
Ala Datena Michi no Eki - 伊達な道の駅 (Iwadeyama 岩出山)
Sanbongi Michi no Eki - 三本木
Did you know that Miyagi has fifteen Michi no Eki's or Road Stations? Osaki has THREE! They all have restaurants that offer meals usually made from local ingredients! At each Road Station, there usually is a store that sells local products that can range from local produce, local sake, small souvenirs, to wooden crafts! Please check out your closest Michi no Eki for unique goods!
Sakuzo Yoshino Memorial Hall
Little known to most foreign residents in Miyagi, what is today's Osaki was the birthplace of Sakuzo Yoshino. He was one of the leading pioneers of democracy in Japan during the Taisho period, campaigning for universal sufferage and worker's rights. The musuem itself is a bit dated, but it is laid out well enough in an easy-to-understand manner.
Kankaku Museum - 感覚ミュージアム
Experience all five of your senses to their fullest at this museum! While mostly aimed at younger audiences, it still has some fun for adults as well.
Chubachi Musueum - 中鉢美術館
Dedicated to the beauty and craftsmanship of Japanese swords. It is located next to Yuubikan station in Iwadeyama.
Yuubikan - 有備館
Located in central Iwadeyama, this former lord's house has quite the beautiful garden inside. In autumn there is a lightup of the Japanese maples surrounding the pond.
Japan Kokeshi Museum - 日本こけし館
One of the many symbols of Japan (and a main symbol of Tohoku), the humble kokeshi doll is a near inescapable sight. The museum is a bit small, but it does cover all of the different variations from each prefecture and town - you can even paint your own!
Onikobe Ski Area - オニコウベスキー場
If you like snowboarding or skiing, you’re in a bit of luck. Onikobe is one of Miyagi's favorite places to go for winter sports. You can ski and snowboard from beginner levels to more intermediate levels. Onikobe is open to everyone. You can rent gear on the mountain as well, and there are lessons available in Japanese. You can stop by the onsen afterwards and warm up!
Shintoro no Yu - 中山平温泉 しんとろの湯
Located close to the famous Naruko gorge, this hot spring has the unusual sensation of being in a bath of hot lotion. While it sounds unpleasant, in person it's great - you feel quite refreshed, and your skin shines.
Taki no Yu - 滝の湯
A public hotspring located close to Naruko shrine. Warm and refreshing, plus easy to access from the station.