The swimming season has officially started. Although Sendai is a port town, the beaches are still closed after the tsunami of 2011. Still, there are many places in Miyagi where you can spend some wonderful time relaxing by the sea. Some are very lively, others are quiet and hidden. Today we are going to introduce one of the most adventurous spots to go swimming in Miyagi - Katsurashima Island in Matsushima Bay.
The road to a destination spot usually differs a lot depending on whether you can drive a car or not. But not in this case, because you will have to travel by sea. After taking a train to Hon-Shiogama station, go to Marine Gate to purchase a ferry ticket and all aboard!
It takes a little bit more than 20 minutes to get to Katsurashima from Marine Gate. 20 minutes of sea breeze, incredible view of Matsushima islands and an anticipation of a wonderful adventure.
When you finally get to Katsurajima, it is like reaching the other world. Small houses, fishermen boats, that special kind of silence, possible only in villages situated near sea - when you literally feel the time itself slowing down. Note that you won’t find many signs of 21st century here - although there are vending machines, there are no convenience stores, no cafes or restaurants, so it is better to have a bento with you.
What is there - amazing beaches. Bathing in the sea while enjoying the view of the small islands scattered around is really worth a trip to Katsurashima. Besides, there are many objects on the beach, too - sea shells and stones, beautifully formed by the sea water, so it is possible to find a souvenir home to put on your bookshelf.
If you get tired of people gathering on the beach, you can depart on a journey. The island is not very big, and it is possible to have a walk around it, enjoying the atmosphere reminiscent of Ghibli movies. I remember a scene from Pom Poko, where tanuki restore their urbanized mountain into the place it used to be before. Katsurajima gives me the same impression - it looks like a nostalgic reminder of the times when life was not so convenient, and much slower and simpler, where people used to live close to nature.
Speaking about nature - there are many crabs and strange sea creatures that you can meet here. For those who prefer sweeter companions - although Katsurashima is not a Cat Island, the cats here are friendly and pretty as can be. They seem to have this island in their tiny paws - isn’t this a dreamland for a cat?
Don’t be late for the last ship, but for a totally different experience, Katsurashima has a couple of places to stay. You can find out about them on the official site of Urato islands: https://www.city.shiogama.miyagi.jp/urato/index.html
The boat schedule is here: https://www.city.shiogama.miyagi.jp/urato/kisen/jikoku-ryokin.html#schedule
As of 2018, round-trip fare is 1100 yen. No reservations are needed, just purchase your ticket at the vending machine on the first floor of Marine Gate Shiogama, then board the municipal ferry outside. The last ship back is early, 5:01PM, so don't miss it!