09:30~12:30 (3 hours)
6000 (approx. $56 USD)
Monday, July 15
Shiogama’s ‘Minato Matsuri’ festival has been named one of ‘Three Great Boat Festivals’ of Japan, and is one of the most exciting summer events along Miyagi’s coastline.
Every year on the ‘Umi-no-hi’ (Marine Day) public holiday in July, sacred omikoshi (portable shrines) are carried from Shiogama Shrine through the streets to Shiogama Port, where they are loaded onto colourful festival boats called ‘Ryu-maru’ (dragon boat) and ‘Hou-maru’ (pheonix boat). Accompanied by traditional music and a huge display of colourful flags, the festival boats lead a massive parade of over 100 local fishing boats around the port and out into Matsuhima Bay.
On this tour, you can experience the highlights of the festival as the locals do! After exploring the festival action in town and watching the heavy omikoshi be carried down the 200+ front steps of Shiogama Shrine, you will board a local boat to watch the exciting boat parade up-close from the water!
Sit back, relax and enjoy some local food and sake as you soak up the sun, sights and sounds of summer in Japan!
Meet at the ticket gates of Hon-Shiogama Station. Your guide will be waiting for you, holding the Tohoku Local Secret Tours logo:
Head to Shiogama Shrine to watch the omikoshi (portable shrine) be carried down the front steps.
It is a true physical challenge for the festival participants as they attempt to balance the heavy shrine on their shoulders, whilst navigating it down over 200 very steep, slippery stone steps!
From here the shrines will be carried through the streets of Shiogama to the port area, where they will be loaded onto the colourful dragon and phoenix parade boats.
Accompanied by traditional music and dancing, the festival boats will then lead a huge parade of local fishing boats waving large ‘Tairyobata’ (big catch flags) around the port area and out into Matsushima bay.
After watching the omikoshi make it safely down the shrine steps, head back to the station and jump on a local train to Tagajo Station. Here a local boat captain will be waiting to take you to nearby Shichigahama to board the picnic boat!
Head out onto the water to watch the start of the main festival parade of the ‘Ryu-maru’ (dragon boat), ‘Hou-maru’ (pheonix boat) and over 100 fishing boats.
Enjoy the action up close and away from the crowded shoreline!
Whilst taking in the scenery, enjoy a local ‘obento’ style picnic lunch and wash it down with some local sake!
Once the main parade has passed by, head back to shore.
Your friendly captain will take you back to JR Tagajo Station.
Tour ends at Tagajo Station.
Head back to Hon-Shiogama Station to watch the end of the festival (the omikoshi will be carried back through the streets and returned to Shiogama Shrine), or head back to Sendai Station (20 min train ride).