Sanriku Coast

Touring Miyagi's Coastal Culture

Visit a holy island and a revitalized fishing town

Witness the power of the sea. Experience the spiritual side with a visit to the holy island of Kinkasan. Understand the hardships and blessings it brings by spending time in Onagawa, a small port town decimated by the 2011 tsunami that has been rebuilding ever since. Observe tsunami wreckage, relax in a natural hot spring, and connect with locals. Though grasping the scale of the destruction caused by the 2011 tsunami is a sobering experience, spending time in Onagawa, with its resilient, enterprising citizens, will lift your spirits.


  • Start
  • 1Onagawa Station (Ishinomaki Line)

    Aim to get to Onagawa Station on the train arriving at 9:59 a.m. to get there in time to make the Sunday Kinkasan boat departure at 11:00. The first sightseeing spot of the day is Onagawa Station itself! The station is designed by world-famous architect Ban Shigeru. There is an observation deck on the second floor and an on-site hot springs facility (we'll return to that later). Take your time and appreciate the structure.


    Since the pier is only about a 10-minute walk from the station, this gives you some time to take in minor points of interest along the way. If you're feeling in need of a caffeine fix or a quick bite to eat, you can stop by the Onagawa branch of Mother Port Coffee (link info is for Kesennuma branch). It's located directly en route to the pier.

    Walk6 min.

    2Tsunami ruins: the former Onagawa Police Station

    On the walk to the boat pier, you'll see an overturned ruin of a building. This was once the town's police station. When the 2011 tsunami struck, it tore the building from its foundation and dragged it here. The town has preserved the structure as the tsunami left it, a memorial of the 2011 tragedy.
    Walk11 min.

    311:00 departure: Boat ride to Kinkasan

    Be sure not to miss this departure from the Ushio Planning Boat Pier (潮プランニング), as there aren't many round-trips out to Kinkasan! One round trip is made every Sunday. Other than that, there are one to four round-trips offered most holidays and some Saturdays. The holiday and Saturday boat departure times differ, so please check the schedule in advance here. Though the site is in Japanese, the dates and departure times are numerical so non-Japanese readers can still figure it out.
    Boat35 min.

    4Explore the holy island of Kinkasan

    Kinkasan has been considered sacred since at least the eighth century, one of the three holiest places in Tohoku. In spite of its revered status, visitors of all faiths are welcome.
    115 min.

    513:30 departure: Boat back to Onagawa

    Be sure not to miss this departure! As mentioned above, there's just one round-trip out to Kinkasan every Sunday, and other than that only on holidays and some Saturdays. See the link above for non-Sunday departure dates and times.
    Boat35 min.

    6Arrive back at Ushio Planning Boat Pier

    Walk15 min.

    7Lunch in Onagawa

    The Seapal-Pier Onagawa ( シーパルピア女川) shopping area and surrounding side streets have ample lunch options. Seafood is the highlight of Onagawa cuisine; trawl the area and find a spot that strikes your fancy. A handful of restaurants also serve non-seafood dishes, and there's a convenience store nearby as well.
    Walk2 min.

    8Soak in natural hot springs

    Recharge before dinner with a soak in the supremely convenient and utterly soothing hot springs at Onagawa Station.
    Walk2 min.

    9Rub elbows with locals over drinks

    Pubs in Onagawa are a great place to rub elbows with locals while enjoying quality food and drink. Bar Sugar Shack is one of the best for pub grub and a youthful, hip atmosphere. Garuya is the place for craft beer. And for those who can't get enough seafood and sake, head to one of the old-school izakaya pubs a few doors down.

    10Head home

    Where is home? The last train departs Onagawa Station at 8:27 p.m., so if you want to enjoy a late night out in Onagawa, you're best bet is to stay overnight near Onagawa Station at Hotel El Faro, or at hot springs hotel Hanayubi a 10-minute taxi ride away.

Course Map

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