Literally translated as “south of Sendai,” the Sennan Area is located in the southern region of the prefecture. It is comprised of the following municipalities: Kawasaki, Murata, Shibata, Kakuda, Ogawara, Zao, Marumori, Shiroishi, Shichikashuku.
Home of our lovely Mount Zao, Sennan is a wonderful place to see all year long. Being so close to Fukushima Prefecture, much of the food cuisine jumps the border in Sennan.
Shiroishi is also the home of the ONLY standing Japanese castle in the prefecture. Ogawara has the prefecture's most famous cherry blossom sightseeing spot. And Kakuda has the JAXA Space Center that has a FREAKING (model) ROCKET standing out front.
Where to Eat
There are many restaurants along Route 4. You'll be sure to find something you like.
Blu Sta in Ogawara is a nice and date friendly place to dine. It can get very crowded and they do not take reservations so plan ahead.
Chain restaurants are a good deal. Mos Burger (has a vegetarian option which is delicious), Milky Way, Gusto, CoCo's, Joyful... but be aware that most Japanese made foreign food (Japanese Italian or Indian...) is not exactly the same as you might expect.Cheap restaurants such as ramen shops, McDonalds, and Kapa (cheap sushi) are plentiful.
Pizza can be found in Kawasaki on 457 heading toward Mt. Zao, and in Zao at a small brick oven pizza place.
Shoya ramen shop in Kakuda. The best miso ramen in Japan!
Tasuke Sushi on the Route 4 heading towards, but just outside Shiroishi.
Umen (Shiroishi's noodle)restaurants of which there are quite a few in walking distance from Shiroishi station.
Yoshinoya and Sukiya – affordable Japanese style food with healthy choices
Handaya – Japanese home-style cooking and it’s affordable
Where to Shop
100 (hyaku) yen shops are the best. Also called Diaso these shops litter the countryside and the cities with a variety of goods for teaching and living. Check out the excellent stationary.
Aeon or Food Max grocery stores also have the same items you would find at 100 yen shops. They also have some pretty good deals on food.
COOP is a large grocery store found throughout Miyagi prefecture. There is one located in Ogawara and Shiroishi.
D2, DIY and Komeri are good houseware stores in Murata, Shiroishi and Ogawara.
Diamond City is a mall in Natori. Although not in the Sennan area, Natori is pretty close to many Sennan area JETS and there is a JR Line stop which drops you off at Diamond City. Diamond city, larger then Forte offers more variety of stores, two large grocery stores in the mall, has foreign foods, and a movie theater.
Forte Mall in Ogawara might be small, but has a variety of stores for grocery or clothing. It also has a movie theater.
JUSCO in Shibata for grocery shopping.
Nitori is good for bedding and furniture. So are both Muji (first floor of the S-Pal building in Sendai) and The Loft (across from Sendai station), but those are both in Sendai.
Yoku Benni Mart is a grocery store with some selection of foreign food items.
Local Shops: There are also any number of local establishments in small towns which offer fruits and vegetables and other items. A lot of these places are even first floors of homes. Give them a try. There are also outdoor farmers markets scattered throughout the Sennan area. Ask about these at your Board of Education or Community Center. Farmer's markets tend to offer better deals on produce.
Big Budda on the hill in Funaoka.
Camping- there are various campsites throughout the Sennan area and Miyagi. Typically one can rent anything they would need from a campsite or invest in camping gear if you plan on doing a lot of camping.
Fukuoka to Ogawara river walk especially during hanami (cherry blossom season). Stalls and picnics are set-up on the banks of the river in Ogawara around hanami.
Heartland Farms in Zao town especially in spring time.
Kokeshi Museum in Zao where you can paint your own kokeshi doll.
Kozoji (Kozo temple). It's the oldest building in Miyagi.
Michinoku no Koen (Michinoku Park) is located in Kawasaki. There is a bus that will get you there from Sendai. It's supposed to be an example of Tohoku recreational living. It's huge, offers paddle boating, frisbee golf, yoga ball pits and a children's playland with go-carts. There are also traditional Japanese historical houses and a small petting zoo with lambs.
Mt. Zao is home to great skiing on both the Miyagi and Yamagata sides of the Zao range. There is also Okama (the crater lake) accessible through the Miyagi side and winter "snow monsters" which are best seen on the Yamagata side of things.
Onsen- (another plug for onsen, see entertainment). Shiroishi has lots of good onsen. There are two main areas near Shiroishi (Obara and Kamasaki). At Obara Izumiya is a good hotel. At Kamasaki, it's Suzukiya. At both you can get an onsen for 500 yen and they have good rotenburo (outdoor baths).
Shichikashuku is known for it’s famous dam, skiing, and beautiful scenery.
Shiroishi Castle and Samurai House are both within walking distance from the train station. Shiroishi Castle and its surrounding grounds are particularly nice during hanami (cherry blossom season) and when the leaves change colors in the Fall (Novemberish). They are also less crowded and more pleasant then some other scenic spots at those times of year.
Takekome Shrine in Iwanuma which holds the biggest new years festival in the area.
Abukuma River Trail- great for cycling, walking, and probably skate-boarding or inline skating as well.
Batting Cage in Ogawara.
Diamond City also has a movie theater.
Eboshi Ski great for winter sports.
Forte Mall has a bowling alley and a movie theater. The theater has a pretty decent variety of movies showing and offers some special deals (1000 yen for women on Wednesdays and 1000 yen for men on Thursdays).
Onsens in Shiroishi, Aiku, Zao, Togatta, Obara,. . .
Saint Mary Ski is great for skiing and snowboarding of all levels and sledding.
Golf Driving Range in Shiroishi.
Shiroishi ski-jou is good for skiing/snowboarding, especially for beginners, in the winter. It’s run by the council, so lift passes and rental are very cheap and there's a free bus from Shiroishi station to it.Spashland Obara has an Olympic-sized pool and hot baths.
White Cube in Shiroishi has concerts and events throughout the year (an annual kokeshi exhibition too).
Shichikashuku Ski Area – offers skiing at a great price. In the warmer seasons cottage and campgrounds are available.
Karaoke a very unique and fun Japanese entertainment form found pretty much everywhere.
Festivals & Special Events
Check with locals in your town for dates festivals and fireworks.
Funaoka – fireworks in July
Inomi-kai on the Abukuma River (This fall event focuses on eating potato soup outdoors. You can book a boat on the Abukuma River and have a 2-hour tour/ soup-eating trip.)
Kakuda summer festival in August.
Kanadzu Tanabata is pretty famous. It is nice if you want a localized version of the Sendai stuff.
Murata has a big festival on the second weekend in October.
Shiroishi has quite a few events on their home page (http://www.city.shiroishi.miyagi.jp)
The fireflies and lantern festivals were quite good.