Let’s face it: much of the time devoted to sightseeing is spent in transit. Depending on the mode of transportation, this can be a pleasure or a chore. Cycling is one of the most pleasant and practical ways to take in the sights of Miyagi. Not only is it a convenient means of getting from place to place, it also makes the journey between destinations a reward. The open air and mild exertion engages one with the surroundings in a way that gazing out a window just can’t.
On the practical side, sightseeing by bicycle is often cheaper and more convenient than by taxi, rental car, or public transportation. It doesn’t require an international driving permit. Parking a bicycle is usually free and rarely a struggle. Free from the hindrance of strict bus and train schedules, you are free to take in the sights at their own pace. Getting exercise is also the perfect excuse to stop by any eateries you happen to spot along the way.
Any able-bodied adult who knows how to ride a bike can enjoy rental bicycles, regardless of cycling confidence or fitness level. Chari (チャリ) are a simple, classic style of bicycle. Riders sit upright, as opposed to the hunched position adopted on sport cycles. They feature one to three gears and usually a basket on the front for holding purses, shopping bags, etc. Chari are supremely comfortable and convenient for easygoing rides around town.
Electric-assist bicycles (電動アシスト自転車, “dendo ashisuto jitensha“) are chari with small battery-powered motors attached. They are just as comfortable to ride as regular chari. The motor gives riders a power and speed boost when riding uphill, and at any other time the rider is struggling to push the pedals. Electric-assist bicycles are perfect for those who want to try sightseeing by bicycle but worry it may be too tiring.
Chari rental is available for cheap (sometimes even free!) in many towns around Miyagi. Reservations are typically not necessary. Rental is usually very simple:
1. Visit the rental counter and tell the clerk you’d like a bicycle.
2. Fill out a short form with your passport number and contact info. Some shops also require a modest deposit you’ll get back when you return the bicycle.
3. Collect your bicycle and enjoy a two-wheeled excursion!
It is generally expected that chari will be returned during business hours the same day they are rented. For multi-day rentals, inquire with the shops directly or reserve a sport cycle online.
Road bikes & cross bikes ・ロードバイク＆クロスバイク
Road- or cross-bike rental is ideal for experienced cyclists who want to enjoy Miyagi’s many cycling routes without the hassle and expense of boxing and shipping a bike from home.
Brand-name cross-bike rental is readily available in the Sanriku and the eastern Matsushima Bay area, typically costing ¥3,000 per day. The Umimachi Sanpo (海街さんぽ) offers a road- and cross-bike rental. Its website lists the locations where bikes can be picked up and dropped of, their rates—even what types each location has and how many are available. Reservations can be made through the website. Due to the limited number of bikes available, reservations are always recommended. That said, most of the Umimachi Sanpo locations don’t actually require reservations. If a shop happens to have bikes available, they will accept walk-in rentals day of. For those wanting to cycle the Oshika Penninsula, most Umimachi Sanpo locations offer one-way rental (乗り捨レンタル, “norisute rentaru“) between Onagawa and Ishinomaki for an additional ¥2,000.
Where to Rent
Sendai City Bicycle Traffic Safety Department
Date Bike is an English-friendly bicycle share service with numerous pick-up and drop-off locations throughout central Sendai. No reservations are needed, but online registration is required.
Electric-assist chari: Varies by plan. 1-day rentals from ¥953
Hours: Always open
Access: At Sendai Station, many subway stations, & bus stops throughout central Sendai
Akiu area, Sendai City
The free cycle rental offered by Akiu Sato Center helps visitors conveniently access the slightly out-of the-way attractions and excellent restaurants in the area, like Tenshukaku Gardens, Akiu Traditional Craft Village, Akiusha, and Organ. If you’re up for a bit of a workout, you could even ride up to Akiu Otaki Falls!
Akiu Sato Center (秋保・里センター)
Simple chari: Free (¥1,000 deposit required)
Cycle rental hours: 9:30–17:00
Access by city bus: About 50 minutes from Sendai Station by bus. From Sendai Station bus stop 8, board Akiu Line (秋保線) bus bound for Akiu Onsen (秋保温泉) via Nagamachi・Nishitaga・Moniwa (長町・西多賀・茂庭経由). Alight at the Akiu Sato Center (秋保・里センター) bus stop. Abridged timetable available here (local).
Access by Seibu Liner bus: About 40 minutes from Sendai Station. From Sendai Station bus stop 63, board bus bound for Kawasaki-machi (かわさきまち) or Michinoku Park (みちのく公園) via Sendai Nishi Doro・Nishikigaoka (仙台西道路・錦ヶ丘経由). Alight at Akiu Sato Center (秋保・里センター). Timetable here.
The overnight cycle rental available rental in Natori makes it a practical way to access even early-morning events, like the auction at Yuriage Port Morning Market. Rental cycle can also be a good way to traverse the Natori leg of the Michinoku Coastal Trail as most of the trail in this area is a paved route accessible to both cyclists and hikers.
Natori Station Community Plaza (名取駅コミュニティプラザ)
Simple chari: 4 hours ¥200, 8 hours ¥300, 12 hours ¥500. Overnight rental available.
Hours: weekdays 7:30–20:00, weekends 9:00–20:00. Closed December 29–January 3
Access: At Natori Station (Tohoku Line)
Matsushima Bay Area
Many of the most scenic and interesting places in Higashimatsushima, like Sagakei Gorge and Tsukihama Beach, are located on Miyatojima Island. The island is connected to the mainland by a short bridge, but is too far from any train station or bus stop to be walked to. Fortunately, cycle rental is available next to Nobiru Station.
The Umimachi Sanpo bicycle rental service offers numerous pick-up and drop-off locations throughout Ishinomaki, Onagawa, and Higashimatsushima. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are accepted if they have bikes available. Reservations can be made online through their website. Cross bikes, road bikes, and electric-assist bikes are all offered; availability varies by pick-up location.
Umimachi Sanpo Higashimatsushima (海街さんぽレンタサイクル 東松島)
Fee: ¥3,000 per day with reservation, or ¥500 per hour without
Access info & hours for each pick-up/drop-off location:
Oku-Matsushima Iito Plaza (奥松島イートプラザ)
・Next to Nobiru Station (Senseki Line), 9:00–16:00
Antenna Shop Machindo (あんてなしょっぷ まちんど)
・Next to Yamoto Station (Senseki Line), 10:00–18:00
Aomina Visitor Center (あおみな)
・10 minutes by taxi from Nobiru Station (Senseki Line), 9:00–16:00
Aihara Shoten offers cycle rental near the Matsushima Bay sightseeing district. Though the tourist attractions in the central sightseeing are easily accessible on foot, a rental cycle makes it more convenient to venture a little further, to lesser known spots like Sugihara Isao Shoten, a fisherman-run seafood diner in the Isozaki area.
Aihara Shoten (相原商店)
Simple chari: 2 hours ¥500 (¥1,000 deposit required)
Access: 1-minute walk from Matsushima Kaigan Station (Senseki Line)
Renting a cycle at Tagajo Station to potter around sights in the Tagajo, Shiogama, and Shichigahama can make for a slightly adventurous, super affordable day trip. Hit spots like Shiogama Shrine and Shobutahama Beach while working up an appetite for indulgent local specialties like miso ice cream.
Tagajo Sightseeing Information Center (多賀城観光案内所)
Simple chari: ¥100 per hour (¥1,000 deposit required)
Access: At Tagajo Station (Senseki Line)
Explore Ishinomaki, Miyagi’s second-largest city, more conveniently by rental cycle. Zip between between points of interest, like Tree Tree Ishinomaki and Hiyoriyama Park, or Ishinomaki Community & Info Center and Common-Ship Hashidori. Rental cycle is also a perfect way to explore the expansive Reborn Art Festival, held here every other year.
The Umimachi Sanpo bicycle rental service offers numerous pick-up and drop-off locations throughout Ishinomaki, Onagawa, and Higashimatsushima. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are accepted if they have bikes available. Reservations can be made online through their website. Cross bikes, road bikes, and electric-assist bikes are all offered; availability varies by pick-up location. Most of the Ishinomaki locations offer one-way rental between Ishinomaki and Onagawa for an additional ¥2,000.
Umimachi Sanpo Ishinomaki (海街さんぽレンタサイクル 石巻市)
Fee: ¥3,000 per day with reservation, or ¥500 per hour without (fee at the Sant Juan location is ¥3,000 per day regardless of reservation status)
Access info & hours for each pick-up/drop-off location:
Sightseeing Information Center in Ishinomaki City Hall (石巻市役所 石巻観光情報案内センター)
・Across the street from Ishinomaki Station, 8:30–17:00
Ishinomaki Grand Hotel (石巻グランドホテル)
・6-minute walk from Ishinomaki Station, 6:30–19:00
Kawamachi Koryu Center (かわまち交流センター)
・12-minute walk from Ishinomaki Station, 9:00–18:00
Sant Juan Bautista Park (サン・ファンパーク)
・27-minute walk from Watanoha Station (Ishinomaki Line), 9:00–17:00
Kawanokami Hyappyokan (川の上 百俵館)
・40-minute walk from Kanomata Station (Ishinomaki Line), 10:30–17:00
Kitakami Sightseeing & Local Products Koryu Center (北上観光物産交流センター)
Few of Kesennuma’s attractions are within an easy walking distance of a train station, but are just a few minutes’ ride away by rental cycle. Easily reach spots like the Rias Ark Museum of Art, Kesennuma Fish Market, and K-Port without having to worry about bus schedules or taxi expenses.
Just off the coast of of Kesennuma City lies Oshima Island. Locals flock to the island for its beautiful beach, and for delicious seafood served at family-run spots like Tairyomaru. Enjoy the sea breeze and build up an appetite by cycling from place to place.
Kesennuma Ekimae Sightseeing Information Center (気仙沼駅前観光案内所)
Simple chari: ¥500 per day
Electric-assist chari: ¥700 per day
Access: At Kesennuma Station (Ofunato Line, BRT Kesennuma Line)
Kesennuma Oshima Tourist Information Center in Kodanohama Beach House (気仙沼大島観光協会)
Electric-assist: 2 hours ¥500, or ¥1,000 per day
Hours: 9:00–16:00 (closed in the event of bad weather)
Access: 35 minutes by bus from Kesennuma Station (気仙沼駅), followed by a 5-minute walk.
A few of this charming coastal town’s attractions, like Sun Sun Shopping Village and Kaminoyama Shrine, are located within walking distance of Shizugawa Station, but renting a bicycle will allow you to explore spots further afield, like Cape Kamiwarisaki, Sunsunkan Lodge, or day trip to the epic seaside hot springs at Hotel Kanyo.
Minamisanriku Sun Sun Shopping Village Information Center (南三陸さんさん商店街インフォメーションセンター)
Reservations required, can book online.
Simple chari: 3 hours ¥500
Electric-assist chari: 3 hours ¥700
Access: 2-minute walk from Shizugawa Station (BRT Kesennuma Line)
Onagawa is a tiny coastal town with most of its shops and sightseeing spots located just a few minutes’ walk from Onagawa Station, but cycle rental is recommended for those who want to cycle the Oshika Penninsula, or even just up to Gobansho Park for the breathtaking view of holy Kinkasan Island.
The Umimachi Sanpo bicycle rental service offers numerous pick-up and drop-off locations throughout Ishinomaki, Onagawa, and Higashimatsushima. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are accepted if they have bikes available. Reservations can be made online through their website. Cross bikes, road bikes, and electric-assist bikes are all offered; availability varies by pick-up location. The Onagawa location offers one-way rental between Onagawa and many of the Ishinomaki locations for an additional ¥2,000.
Umimachi Sanpo Onagawa (海街さんぽレンタサイクル 女川町)
Fee: ¥3,000 per day with reservation, or ¥500 per hour without
Onagawa pick-up/drop-off location: Tabi no Joho-kan Puratto (たびの情報館ぷらっと)
Access: 6-minute walk from Onagawa Station (Ishinomaki Line)
Northern Miyagi Area
Misato is home to Kogota Station, a transportation hub of northern Miyagi. Good-value cycle rental is available here.
Misato-machi Rent-a-Cycle (美里町レンタサイクル)
Simple chari: ¥200 per day
Hours: 9:00–17:00 late April–late December (closed January through mid-April)
Access: At Kogota Station
Some sightseeing associations in onsen neighborhoods of Osaki City offer complimentary chari rental to overnight guests. The Higashi-Naruko neighborhood offers something extra special: free rental of unique “sport tricycles” built by a retired automobile engineer. The bikes and trikes can be used to explore the charming Naruko area nearby, which features a number of onsen, kokeshi workshops, and quaint eateries like Egao, Tamagoya, and Fukase.
Naruko Gorge is one of the most popular attractions in Osaki. Unfortunately, bus service to the gorge is only available during the fall color season. Outside of that time, cycle rental can be a good way to get there. Nakayamadairaonsen Station is the closest train station to the gorge, so renting a bicycle there is one of the most convenient options.
Hotels & inns in Kawanami Onsen (大崎市川渡温泉内各旅館)
Simple chari: Free (available only to overnight guests of participating Kawanami Onsen accommodations)
Access: A short walk from Kawatabi-Onsen Station (Rikuu East Line)
Naruko Trike Meguri (鳴子トライクめぐり)
Sport tricycles: Free (available only to overnight guests of participating Higashi-Naruko accommodations)
Hours: 9:00–17:00 April–November (closed winter)
Access: A short walk from Naruko-Goten Yu Station (Rikuu East Line)
Nakayamadaira Onsen Rent-a-Cycle (中山平温泉レンタサイクル)
Simple chari: 3 hours ¥500, 8 hours ¥800
Hours: 9:00–17:00 mid-April to first snow (closed winter)
Access: In front of Nakayamadairaonsen Station (Rikuu East Line)
Cycle rental is available in the historic Meiji Village area of Tome. The bikes can be used to potter the historical district, or for a refreshing ride along the Kitakami River.
Mizusawa Prefectural Government Memorial Museum (水沢県庁記念館)
Simple chari: ¥300 per day
Access: 15 minutes by bus from Yanaizu Station (柳津駅). At Yanaizu Station, board a Tsuyama Line (津山線) bus bound for Tome (登米). Alight at Tome Mikka-machi (登米三日町) bus stop. Timetable here.
Kakuda is a small city with most of its the point of interest and event sites located a bit far from the train station. Renting a bicycle at the station makes it easy to reach these destinations without the hassle of car rental or calling a taxi.
Kakuda Station Community Plaza (角田駅コミュニティプラザ)
Simple chari: 5 hours ¥100
Access: At Kakuda Station (Abukuma Express Line)
Marumori is a charming small town situated on the Abukuma River. Rent a simple chari and ride the road that runs along the riverside, or rent an electric-assist bike and explore parts of the satoyama area popular with local cyclists.
Yamayuri-Go Rent-a-Cycle (レンタサイクルやまゆり号)
Simple chari or electric-assist chari: Free
Access: At Marumori Station (Abukuma Express Line)
Cycle rental in the charming historical district of Murata, along a street lined with traditional kura storehouses. In fact, the rental service itself is housed in one! Combine cycle rental here with an overnight stay at Murata Buke no Yado, for an easygoing and immersive historical experience.
Machi no Eki Yamanitei (まちの駅 ヤマに邸)
Simple chari: Free
Access: 45 minutes by highway bus from Sendai Station, followed by a 5-minute walk. From Sendai Station West Exit Bus Stop 33 (西口33番乗り場), board bus bound for Murata・Zao (村田・蔵王). Alight at Murata-machi Yakuba-mae (村田町役場前).
A charming rural town, with a local government that’s been working hard to prevent depopulation through innovative revitalization projects. Cycle rental is available at Ko-rasshe in the Nanairo Hiroba rest area. Spend a leisurely day enjoying the town’s idyllic natural scenery, like Lake Choro, and delicious local food, like soba made with Shichikashuku-grown buckwheat.
Book & Cafe Ko-rasshe (Book & Cafe こ・らっしぇ)
Cross bike: ¥1,500 for 3 hours, ¥2,500 for 5 hours, or ¥3,000 for all-day rental
Reservations: Accepted, but not necessary
Access: About 45 minutes by bus from Shiroishi Station (白石駅) or Shiroishi-Zao Station (白石蔵王駅). Board a Shichikashuku Shiroishi Line (七ヶ宿白石線) bus bound for Yakuba・Nananiro Hiroba (役場・なないろひろば); alight Nanairo Hiroba (なないろひろば) bus stop. Timetable here.
Non-profit bicycle rental sponsored by the Shiroishi Sightseeing Association, helping visitors explore this historic castle town. They operate three locations, one in each of the nearby train stations and one at Shiroishi Castle History Museum. A rental cycle is a great way to access points of interest around central Shiroishi without having to worry about parking, attractions like Shiroishi Castle, the Shiroishi Samurai Residence, and umen shop Hikarian.
Shiroishi Sightseeing Association (白石観光協会)
Simple chari: ¥300 per day (¥500 deposit required)
Access: At Shiroishi-Zao Station (Tohoku Shinkansen) & Shiroishi Station (Tohoku Line)
Hiraizumi Town, Iwate
Hiraizumi is home to several world heritage sites, most famously Chuson-ji and Motsu-ji Temples. When the weather’s nice, a chari is definitely the most pleasant way of taking in the sights of central Hiraizumi. If you’re in decent shape and no rush, you could also cycle out to Genbikei Gorge, stopping to check out Takkoku no Iwaya temple along the way. Two cycle rental shops are located near Hiraizumi Station. One offers go-kart rental in addition to bicycles. Live your Mario Kart fantasy zipping around the streets of Hiraizumi.
Gold Renta Hiraizumi (ゴールドレンタ平泉)
If you visit this company’s Taiken Cafe+ Wa location, they will store your luggage for free during your rental time. Their second location is a self-serve cycle rental machine just outside Hiraizumi Station. An international driver’s license is required for go-kart rental.
Simple chari: 2 hours ¥500, 1 day ¥1,000. Multi-day rental also available.
Go-karts: ¥2,500 per hour
Hours (self-serve machine): Always open
Hours (Taiken Cafe+ Wa): 8:30–18:00
Access (self-serve machine): Across from Hiraizumi Station (Tohoku Line)
Access (Taiken Cafe+ Wa): 15-minute walk from Hiraizumi Station (Tohoku Line)
Swallow Tour Hiraizumi Rental Cycle (スワローツアー平泉レンタルサイクル)
Simple chari: 3 hours ¥500 or ¥1,000 per day
Hours: 9:00–16:00 April–November (closed winter)
Access: Next to Hiraizumi Station (Tohoku Line)
March 6, 2020