There's never been a better time to visit Japan. Plan your trip today!

Miyagi Starts Here

I’m honestly surprised that Miyagi prefecture exists, at least in its current state. Given the size and importance of Sendai, you’ll almost expect that some kind of Sendai-fu would be created to supersede Miyagi-ken (see also Kyoto and Osaka).

From a tourism perspective, this sort of already exists. After all, there aren’t many destinations in the prefecture that aren’t in the vicinity of Sendai’s city center, or at least accessible from it on a day trip.

Regardless of how you feel about this issue—or whether you’ve even thought about it—I hope you’ll find my Miyagi travel guide useful. At a bare minimum, I hope it will help you get out of Sendai for a day or two!

Need help planning your next trip to Japan? Commission a custom Japan itinerary!

Where to Base Yourself in Miyagi

This will come as no surprise to you, but the vast majority of Miyagi hotels are in Sendai. Here, of course, you have many options. While some travelers will prefer to choose a property like Hotel Livemax Sendai Aobadori that’s close to attractions such as Aoba Castle, others (myself included) would rather stay closer to Sendai Station, in my case at the stylish Washington Hotel.

Can you stay outside of Sendai during your trip to Miyagi? Absolutely! Off the top of my head, I can think of Taikanso in Matsushima, and Tama Hotel in Ishinomaki, just to name a couple. Do note that in less urban places, however, that you’re going to have less of a selection, and you may also need to pay more, relative to what you get.

Places to Visit in Miyagi



As I’ve mentioned multiple times during this post, Sendai is the main target of most people who visit Miyagi. It’s not only where most of the hotels in the prefecture are located, but also impressive attractions like the Aoba Castle Ruins and Zuihoden temple, both of which are related to the legendary Date Masamune. People also come here to eat gyutan, aka beef tongue, a local delicacy.

Shiogama Shrine


Another place to add to your Miyagi itinerary is Shiogama Shrine. This is for a few reasons. First, because of how impressive and imposing it is—as you stand at the bottom of the massive stone staircase that leads to the main hall, you’ll feel the weight of the history. Secondly, it’s on the way to the attraction I’m about to list next—why not stop here for a bit?



Matsushima Bay is one of Japan’s “three great views,” along with Kyoto’s Amanohashidate and Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island outside of Hiroshima. And whether you ride a boat through the islands, walk between some of the main ones via bridges constructed between them, or admire them from above at Saigyo Modoshi-no-matsu viewpoint, you’ll quickly see why they’ve been famous for centuries. 

Southern Sanriku


Most of the Sanriku region is in Iwate prefecture—you won’t find it on a Miyagi travel guide, in other words. However, irrespective of the borders that demarcate these different parts of Japan, the coastal beauty speaks for itself. The most relevant place on this coast to Miyagi is the city of Ishinomaki, which was basically leveled in the 2011 tsunami. Among other claims to fame, it’s the gateway to Tashirojima, one of Japan’s “cat islands.”



The bad news? Yamadera temple is technically in Yamagata prefecture. The good news? If you can get past this technicality, it’s very worth a day trip from Sendai, from which it’s right down the JR Senzan Line (which, to be fair, does eventually go to Yamagata).  Although Yamadera (whose name literally means “mountain temple”) seems imposing, reaching the top actually only takes about 30 minutes from the exit of Yamadera Station.

How Many Days Do You Need in Miyagi?

As is the case vis-à-vis Morioka and Iwate, the question of how many days in Miyagi is really one of how many days you plan to spend in Sendai. I usually like to start with the assumption that you will spend two nights in Sendai—this is the minimum amount of time you need to stay, simply to discover attractions within Sendai’s city center, after all.

From there, how long you stay really depends upon how extensively you want to explore. If you just want to take a day trip to Matsushima or Yamadera, you could simply extend your stay to three nights. If, on the other hand, you want to explore more extensively, you could opt to stay a week in the prefecture, be that entirely in Sendai, or split between Sendai and Ishinomaki (as one example).

Other FAQ About Miyagi Prefecture

What is special about Miyagi?

Miyagi prefecture is special primarily because it centers around the dynamic, bustling city of Sendai. And because Sendai, regardless of how much you end up loving it, makes a great place for exploring even more interesting destinations, namely spiritual Shiogama Shrine and scenic Matsushima Bay.

What does Miyagi mean in Japanese?

Miyagi (宮城) literally translates “shrine fortress” or “shrine castle,” which I will admit seems a bit confusing or clunky, particularly because on first glance Sendai city (which is the core of the prefecture) doesn’t seem to be sacred or filled with castles. This makes more sense the more you travel here, however.

How to travel from Tokyo to Miyagi?

Getting from Tokyo to Miyagi prefecture is easy. Simply ride a super-fast Shinkansen Hayabusa (Japan’s speediest train) from Tokyo or Ueno Stations to Sendai, and use local train lines or buses to get from there to wherever else you need to go.

The Bottom Line

This is the Miyagi travel guide you didn’t know you needed. For some of you, it will simply be motivation to get out of Sendai’s core for a day or two, be that to Matsushima Bay, or to Yamadera (which, yes, I do realize is technically in Yamagata). In other instances, you’ll get a much more adventurous wild hair, probably one that involves renting a car and driving to the southern part of the underrated Sanriku coast. No matter what you getting up to in this part of Tohoku, I do hope you’ll reach out to me if you need extra help. A custom Japan itinerary can take your trip to the next level!


Subscribe to email updates!


Words, images and design ©2018-2024 Robert Schrader, All rights reserved. Read Privacy Policy or view sitemap.