Not all trips need to be grand adrenaline-fueled adventures — some destinations are better for quiet exploration and chance encounters on winding paths and in cozy cafés. Kesennuma’s Oshima Island is one such location: it has enviable beaches and clear waters, as well as yuzu farms and, of course, fantastic ocean delicacies. Kesennuma is home to one of Japan’s biggest fish hauls, meaning there are rich pickings for seafood fans.
Start your excursion in central Kesennuma City by renting a bicycle at either Kesennuma Station Tourist Information Center or Kesennuma Tourist Service Center inside Umi no Ichi, a multipurpose facility housing, among other things, a shark museum and an ice aquarium.
Put the pedal to the metal and scale the Kesennuma-Ohshima Ohashi Bridge over to Oshima Island. Completed in 2019, this is the only terrestrial connection to the mainland for Oshima residents and features spacious paths for cyclists to cross safely, with room to stop and admire the view over Kesennuma Bay.
Onwards and Upwards
Once you reach the island, power all the way up to the peak of Mount Oshima’s tallest point at 235 meters high. The mountain is a relatively easy hike on foot, with winding trails itching to be explored if you have the time. If you decide to stay the night here, head back up to the summit after dark for some stargazing and a view of the illuminated harbor. On your way down, make a quick stop at Oshima Shrine, a small but elaborately decorated Shinto precinct guarding the mountain.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Golden Smile, a rustic seafood barbecue restaurant in a tent that serves up seasonal ocean bounty caught fresh in nearby waters. Dine on delicacies like uni and scallops, and — if you’re lucky — you might even find the so-called “phantom” Oshima oysters on the menu. These plump mollusks are seldom sold to the public, instead making their way to high-end restaurants around the country.
On the Road Again
Depending on the season, you may want to visit — said to be one of Japan’s most beautiful beaches — or Kugunarihama Beach, a 15-minute trek from the nearest parking area, but well worth the walk to experience stepping on its “singing” quartz-rich sand grains. For crashing waves and dynamic landscapes in any season, head down to Oshima’s southern tip. The narrow path to Tatsumaizaki Cape is lined by looming pine trees before opening up to the roar of waves crashing against a smattering of rocks jutting out of the sea. The sea foam is said to resemble wild dragons dancing, hence Tatsumaizaki’s name, which means “dragon dance cape.”
The Last Leg
Before heading back to the mainland, take a break at Utsuwa to Kissa Nagame, a small café and gallery in a renovated house. Furnished with a mix of antiques, vintage clothing and old tools, a stop at this cozy spot feels like a well-deserved reward after a day of exploring. Indulge in a lemon or melon cream soda — both Utsuwa to Kissa Nagame specialties — before heading home.
Want to know more about Miyagi Prefecture?
- Explore 3 Miyagi Destinations: Sendai, Matsushima and Onagawa
- Miyagi Weekender: A Showcase of Japan’s Resilience
- Discover the Water of Life in the Wilds of Miyagi