Miyagi is a place that offers a wide variety of activities and attractions that parents and children can enjoy together. It is also home to hot spring resorts that welcome families. Let me introduce to you some of our favorite spots, places that bring joy to our whole family—children and adults alike!
Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium・仙台うみの杜水族館
Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium showcases the beauty of sea life in the oceans around Japan. It also highlights humans’ interconnectedness with the sea, including an underwater view of a bamboo oyster farm! The focal point of the aquarium is the enormous tank in the Sparkling of Life Hall. Gazing at it, it feels as if you are in the sea as schools of fish swim overhead and all around you. Children will enjoy the dolphin and sea lion performances. They can even help feed the penguins—something our daughter delighted in! Overall, our very favorite exhibit is the eel tank. The tank holds a large tube the eels like to hide in. We like to call it the “eel dormitory.”
Michinoku Park is located in the foothills south of Sendai. It is full of attractions that will entertain the whole family. There is a dedicated playground for younger children with a ball pool, jumping donut, and more. The center of the park features eye-catching flower gardens and intriguing rock sculptures. The park is also educational, featuring a collection of traditional houses from northern Japan that showcase the diversity of traditional peasant lifestyles. On Sundays March through November, the park offers mukashi asobi experiences (昔遊び体験), where visitors can play with old-fashioned Japanese toys and learn traditional Japanese games (free, no reservations needed). If the weather is fair, why not enjoy an open-air lunch in the grassy picnic area? If not, the on-site cafes offer respite from inclement weather.
Museum of the Senses・感覚ミュージアム
You’ll find this unique, innovative museum a little off the beaten path in northern Miyagi. Visitors here can learn and experience using all five senses. Walk through a forest of fragrances, try playing an assortment of unusual musical instruments . . . even experience echolocation! In the Echolocation Room, your silhouette will appear on a screen, created by the echo of your movements. Move, and your silhouette will too! Though grownups are usually too shy to enjoy it to the full, children will start dancing. My daughter was impressed by the way the “echolocation” mirrored her movement! The historic Iwadeyama neighborhood around the museum, nicknamed “Little Kyoto of the North,” is of interest as well. There is a pleasant walking trail along the river there.
For those looking for a beautiful getaway not too far from the city, the Akiu area has some great options for travelling with kids. Akiu Otaki Falls offers a short, mild hike with an impressive view of the beautiful waterfall as reward. Tenshukaku Gardens is a Edo-style garden with many paths to wander, around ponds and through tree groves. There’s even a natural hot spring footbath in the center, where you can rest tired tootsies while still enjoying the garden view.
One of the best facilities to stay the night at is Hotel Zuiho, a modern hot springs hotel that welcomes families with children. The hotel’s numerous hot spring baths are set at different temperatures, some very mild, so children can enjoy them even if they are sensitive to hot water. There is also an on-site swimming pool to play in. The hotel restaurant serves seasonal Japanese and Western-style cuisine, with options easy for even picky eaters to love, such as tempura, omelettes, and fresh fruit.