all, Miyagi is a peculiar shape. This
is largely due to the coastal geology, which has created such beautiful
features as the much-hyped Matsushima Bay, and the scenic hills which
dominate the east coast and make up the Minami Sanriku Kinkasan Quasi
a very beautiful and generally unspoilt stretch of coastline,
where thickly forested hills plunge into the Pacific Ocean with
the southern most point of the Park, the rock defies the ocean to form
the picturesque and secluded Oshika Peninsula.
to the Peninsula is through the metropolises of Ishinomaki and Onagawa,
as both of these towns' borders extend part way towards Oshika Town
itself. Oshika Town is something of a misnomer as it is really a
collective term for the fifteen or so scattered fishing villages and
islands which huddle precariously around the various inlets and bays.
Ishinomaki station, the hour and a quarter bus trip to Ayukawa passes
through a number of these villages, as well as offering excellent sea
views. It is however, a trip for which one must be physically prepared,
as the numerous twists and turns have been known to persuade less hardy
souls to part with their lunch. The
slightly shorter journey from Onagawa is best undertaken by way of the
Cobalt Line, which wends its way through the hilltops, thus giving
spectacular sea views both port and starboard.
as in the past, the majority of visitors to Oshika are there to take in
a pilgrimage to Kinkasan Island (one of the top three most holy places
in Tohoku, apparently). Indeed, one can begin to understand why this
accolade was bestowed upon arrival at the island; the peace and quiet,
and incredible views from the peak of Mt. Kinka adding to the holy
atmosphere of the ancient shrine at which visitors can stay overnight.
is a 25 min boat ride from either Onagawa or Ayukawa, and whilst the
return fare is a little steep, it's not nearly as bad as the 45 minute
hike to the summit! On a
clear day though, the panorama of the ocean, the peninsula and the
coastline is priceless. And anyway, legend has it that if you return
three years running you can wave a cheerful sayonara to any money
worries. Kinkasan is also
the only place in Oshika where you are guaranteed to meet deer, from
which the town gets its name.
animal which you can't avoid in Oshika is the whale. Whatever your
standpoint, Ayukawa was once a flourishing whaling port, and is
historically one of the major centres for such activity. However, just
as the whalers have had to turn their attention to less lucrative
fishing, the town has slightly refocused its use of whales, drawing
hoardes in for the August 3rd
Whale Festival, and the Oshika Whaleland museum.
are interesting windows on the history and culture of the local people.
Oshika eateries will gladly furnish you with whalemeat specialities
(including sashimi) alongside the more usual array of local seafoods,
which are sure to be Fresh (note the capital F).
attraction near Ayukawa is Gobansho Park; its hilltop location
overlooking Kinkasan and Oshika provides both great views and perfect
conditions for stargazing hence the observatory lodges which
have been built. From the park's playground on a clear day, you can see
the 30 km of the peninsula and its islands, Ishinomaki, Matsushima, and
right over the bay to the big smoke of Sendai, with the Zao mountain
popular activities from Ayukawa are of course boat trips (notably
Ajishima for its beach and clear waters), and goldpanning at the
Oshika Kinzan. It may be off the beaten track, but there's plenty to do
once you get there!
on the peninsula are various small beaches like Kugunari and the
Norihama beach area (which is good for secluded forest walks and
surfing). Of course, there is always the oppor tunity to go fishing, or
just to watch the professionals at work with the oysters and scallops,
Kyubunhama you can even see a 12 hundred year old carving of a Japanese
demigod with 11 heads! There are also many places to stay, like
campsites, a kokuminshukusha (“peoples’ lodge”), and many
reasonably priced minshuku (guest houses).
north at the gateway to the peninsula are other attractions such as the
San Juan Bautista museum in Watanoha, a replica of the ship which set
sail from Oshika to Rome in the 17th century (a gallery a few miles away
marks the spot), the Bay Park fairground (the less said the better) and
the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant PR Centre.
when all is said and done, the main attraction must surely be the
breathtaking scenery - whatever the season. The place's beauty is
undeniable, and well worth seeing first hand. You can get information on
timetables and places to stay etc. from the Town Office tourist
department. But if it's English you want, then it's probably a good idea
to ring up the local ALT before heading out.
just hop onto some form of transport and follow the whales!