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A Guide to Onagawa’s Michi-no-Eki: Where and What to Eat and Drink in this Gorgeous Port Town

Michi-no-Eki (道の駅, みちのえき) is a roadside facility providing travel information, 24-hour free parking and restrooms for folks with vehicles. The station also runs restaurants and shops where you can eat/buy local specialities. It is a fun place to stop by for travelers and the stations are located in more than 1,100 spots across the nation!

Not just any roadside stop can call themselves a Michi-no-Eki, however, with a long and strict approval process. Onagawa’s seaside facilities joined the Michi-no-Eki cohort in April 2021 with a diverse range of delectable food and drink options.

Onagawa is a port town in Miyagi prefecture, about 90 minutes drive/train ride from Sendai, the capital of the prefecture. Located on the east coast and facing the Sanriku Rias shoreline, fisheries has been the leading industry of the town.

The rich and ideal marine environment makes it possible to farm high-quality oysters, scallops, seaweed (Wakame わかめ), this region’s speciality sea squirt (Hoya ほや) and coho salmon (Ginzake 銀鮭). Onagawa is also well-known as a port with one of the big catches of Sanma (さんま), Pacific saury, in fall. 

A net filled with part of the morning's catch of sanma from a fishing boat in Onagawa has just been unloaded into a large blue container at the port. A fisherman in blue protective gear and a white hard hat is watching over the process.
A local fishing boat unloading its morning catch of sanma. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

However the town suffered immensely from the Great Northeast Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the tsunami invaded the land and washed away everything people had built for their lives. 

From the absolute devastated land, year by year, Onagawa has slowly but surely been reconstructed by passionate local people. And now, this town gets full attention for their success. When you visit, you see a brand new town on freshly mounded soil but the original townscape sleeps underneath your feet. 

Access & Facilities

If you don’t have a car, no worries! This is what’s unique about Onagawa, four existing facilities in downtown were collectively approved as Michi-no-Eki; namely SEAPAL-PIER (シーパルピア) where many tenant shops are located, Hama Terrace (ハマテラス), a local marketplace, machinaka Kouryuukan (まちなか交流館, community hall) and puratto (ぷらっと, travel information center). Once you get off at the train station, you are instantly there! 

From the station is one big path towards the pier along with Michi-no-Eki facilities.

The SEAPAL-PIER area of Onagawa's Michi no Eki. There are tenant shops on either side with a tree-lined paved pedestrian walkway down the center leading to the ocean.
The SEAPAL-PIER area of Onagawa’s Michi-no-Eki. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

In this article, we’ll introduce you to the eateries in Onagawa’s Michi-no-Eki, including all the local dishes and delicious offerings you just have to try.

Hama Terrace marketplace – eat in

Hama Terrace marketplace is a popular spot for visitors where you can eat and buy local specialities.

Okasei

If you want to try Onagawa’s iconic dish, try Okasei’s (お魚市場おかせい) Onagawa-don (女川丼), assorted sashimi (sliced raw fish) rice bowl. You can enjoy the season’s best sashimi in a bowl!

If you want to go for something more fancy, try the Premium Onagawa-don (特選女川丼), it’s insanely gorgeous! Take an outside seat when the weather is nice so you can feel the seabreeze.

How to order: Buy a ticket at the vending machine and your order will automatically be placed (no need to give the ticket to the staff). When your food is ready, an automated voice will call out your order number. If you’d like to sit outside, you can request a beeper so you won’t miss when your order is up.

Okasei's Premium Onagawa don in a black wooden lacquered bowl on a matching black tray. The dish is topped with so much seafood that you can't see the rice under it. In the center is an elegantly twisted prawn atop a perilla leaf.
Okasei’s Premium Onagawa don is topped with so much seafood you can’t even see the rice underneath. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

Marukichi

Marukichi (マルキチ女川めし屋) offers Kamameshi (釜飯), seasoned steamed rice with seasonal seafood in a pot. You can also buy Onagawa’s specialty dish hoya tamago (ほやたまご), boiled egg covered in hoya (sea squirt) meat and boiled in a soy sauce based broth.

This dish is commonly made in households around this area as fresh hoya gets fishy in a short time. It’s a long-time fisherman’s (fisherwoman) wisdom recipe to enjoy this unique seafood!

Marukichi's kamameshi seasoned rice topped with oysters in a brown ceramic pot on an elevated wooden serving dish. Behind it are two sides on a white dish and to the right a bowl of soup with seaweed in a black bowl. At the back-right are two hoya tamago (eggs covered in sea squirt meat). One is cut in half revealing the yellow yolk of the egg inside. All items are placed on a black wooden lacquered tray with a red rim and a red spoon sits on the tray at the very front. The tray is set on a wooden table.
At Marukichi, you can try seasonal seafood kamameshi and Onagawa’s regional specialty, hoya tamago. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Gozainn

Gozainn (ございん) offers fresh and grilled oysters, scallops and ramen using original chicken broth.

Three fresh oysters in shells on a black plate with disposable wooden chopsticks on a black wooden outdoor table.
Try fresh local oysters at Gozainn. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Hama Terrace marketplace – to enjoy later

Bring back the taste of Onagawa with these local food products.

Katakura Shoten

Katakura Shoten (片倉商店) sells locally caught sea urchin and seasonal seafood.

Plastic-wrapped sea squirt and sea urchin products on display in shallow blue plastic baskets at Katakura Shoten.
Visit Katakura Shoten for local seafood packaged for easy transport. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

Yamahon

At Yamahon (ヤマホン), you can buy Onagawa’s pride fish, sanma (Pacific saury), and coho salmon products. Sun and cold wind dried sanma is made during winter and has a rich dense flavor.

Three coho salmon and sanma products on a light natural wooden table. The sanma package at the front shows imagery of the fish strung up on poles to be dried naturally by the elements.
Local fish products from Yamahon. The sanma package at the front shows imagery of the fish strung up on poles to be dried naturally by the elements. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Takamasa

Takamasa (高政) is a famous local kamaboko (fishcake) company. You can buy Miyagi prefecture’s speciality sasa-kamaboko, steamed and grilled fish paste in a bamboo-leaf shape here.

Four different versions of sasa-kamaboko bamboo leaf-shaped fish cakes. Three are fanned out still in their plastic packaging and a cheese flavored one towards the front-left has been removed from its package and is sitting on stop of it. They are all sitting on a wooden table.
Various flavors of sasa-kamamoko bamboo leaf-shaped fish cakes, a speciality of Miyagi prefecture. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

TEAVER TEAFACTORY

TEAVER TEAFACTORY is also located at the corner of Hama Terrace. You can enjoy their original blend and flavored tea at the shop or buy some to take home.

They have both Western style tea and a Japanese tea selection. One of my favorites, “Fig glace” flavor, is based on Hōjicha (ほうじ茶), a roasted green tea with locally grown candied figs and raw cane sugar. Have a tea break with your favorite tea and sweets here!

A cup of black tea in a white teacup on a white saucer to the front-left and in the center of the image is a glass tea pot with more tea in it. Around it are various small dishes, including a type of pancake with a slice of mandarin orange and some cream on top, and two scones.
Have a tea break at TEAVER TEAFACTORY and buy some goodies to take home too. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

SEAPAL-PIER Shopping Area

Restaurants in the SEAPAL-PIER shopping area offer a wide variety of dishes.

IL GABBIANO

How about Napoli style pizza at IL GABBIANO? From classic margherita to their original menu using local ingredients, they have over 25 different pizzas. Zeppoline, deep fried seaweed mixed pizza dough puffs are really tasty, too!

A staff member dressed in white and a white apron has just removed a margherita pizza from the oven using a large long-sticked pizza peel and is placing it on the top plate of a stack.
Choose from a wide variety of pizza options at IL GABBIANO. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

Ribon

At Ribon restaurant, you can eat Onagawa’s seasonal seafood in pasta dishes and wild deer meat since this area is famous as a habitat for wild deer. If you are familiar with Japanese style chop steak called hambāgu (ハンバーグ), they offer a wild deer version!

A deer meat hambagu patty with rice, salad and sides at Ribon restaurant in Onagawa.
A unique chance to try local wild deer meat in a typical Japanese dish. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Maguro-ya Myojinmaru

You can eat the best Maguro-don ever in Onagawa! Run by a local tuna fishery company, Maguro-ya Myojinmaru (まぐろ屋明神丸) offers a variety of Maguro-don (sliced raw tuna on rice) at a reasonable price! You can try different types of tuna or taste different parts (fatty to lean) in one bowl.

A maguro-don rice bowl topped with various cuts and types of tuna on a tray with wasabi, pickles, a bowl of miso soup and a pair of disposable chopsticks in a paper sleeve at the front.
If you like tuna, you can’t go past Maguro-ya Myojinmaru’s delectable selection of tuna rice bowls. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Ramen-sou Yamaroku

Ramen-sou Yamaroku (ラーメン荘 ヤマロク) is a standing counter ramen shop where you can customize the ramen to your liking. Their ramen is known for huge portions with lots of raw garlic and pork fat, thick noodles and a big piece of roast pork on top, so come with an empty stomach!

A bowl of ramen at Ramen-sou Yamaroku in Onagawa piled high with thick noodles, garlic, roast pork and pork fat.
A plentiful serving of pork-based ramen with lots of garlic at Yamaroku. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

Yakitori bunbun/Touka

Yakitori bunbun/Touka (焼き鳥ぶんぶん/中華料理 杜華) offers authentic Chinese cuisine at lunch and dinner, as well as yakitori, skewered charcoal grilled meat, at dinner time. I recommend trying Negima (ねぎま), green onion and chicken thigh skewers. The chicken is tender and smoky!

A full table of dishes, including various plates of chicken skewers and some steamed dumplings in a bamboo steamer basket in the center.
Yakitori bunbun/Touka serves Chinese cuisine, adding smoky grilled yakitori skewers to their night-time menu. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Takeout – snacks and drinks

Get your favorite drink and snack at the shops and explore the park in front of the pier! There is a kids playground area and skateboard park!

Mother Port Coffee offers original roast coffee and pastries.

A light olive green disposable coffee cup with the company's logo in white on it and a black plastic lid. Next to it are two donuts in plastic packaging, the top one with a green-colored glaze. They sit upon a wooden window-facing countertop in the shop.
Get your morning/afternoon pick-me-up at Mother Port Coffee. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Cafe gohan cebolla offers zunda (mashed and sweetened edamame) milk and Onagawa’s classic sweet peanut cream sandwich.

A lid-less disposable coffee cup filled with light green zunda milk and to the right of it two pieces of white bread sandwiched together with an unseen peanut filling sitting on its plastic wrapper on a park bench.
A classic local combination: zunda milk and a peanut cream sandwich. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

You can order seasonal fresh juice at Aiki Fruit shop (相喜フルーツ).

A left hand with red nail polish is holding out a yellow takeout juice. Various items can be seen in front of the shop for sale in the background.
Delicious seasonal fruit juice at Aiki Fruit shop. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

At Kirara Onagawa (きらら女川) check out this cute fish-shaped soft bread, you can slightly taste sanma as it is kneaded in the bread!

A large fish-shaped bread product held out in front of the camera by a left hand with pink nail polish on a public bench in Onagawa.
Shaped like a fish and infused with actual sanma! ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

onagawa factory sells sea salt vanilla ice cream using locally produced natural salt. 

A left hand with red nail polish holds out a small cardboard/paper tub filled with sea salt vanilla ice cream and topped with berries, with a paved pedestrian walking area seen behind it.
Feel the influence of the ocean in your ice cream too with sea salt vanilla flavor at onagawa factory. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Dinner and drink options

If you are staying over, enjoy the local atmosphere at restaurants and bars at night!

Garuya

Garuya (ガル屋) is a cozy taproom where you can taste domestic and international craft beers. They also brew a variety of original pale ale here with the recipe differing depending on the season. If you are a beer person, you have to try some!

Two glasses of beer and a glass bottle of Coca Cola sitting on a wooden barrel. The hand of the person on the left can be seen picking up one of the glasses of beer and the hand of the person on the right is resting on the edge of the barrel.
Grab a casual beer at Garuya. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Koraku

You cannot miss Koraku (焼肉 幸楽) BBQ house if you are fan of wagyu, Japanese brand beef. You can eat Sendai beef for a reasonable price!

Korean dishes such as Galbi (karubi カルビ in Japanese) ribs are highly recommended to try – the rich and fatty meat is incredibly delicious – and gukbap (we say kuppa クッパ in Japanese), an egg, vegetable and rice soup, is comforting. It’s a good match!

Meat being cooked on a grill set into the table. A hand can be seen turning a piece of meat with metal tongs at the top of the image. At the front, a bowl of marinated karubi ribs and a bowl of egg-based kuppa soup can be seen.
Enjoy a comforting meal and grilling your own meat on the teppan grill at Koraku. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Kagura

At Kagura (酒飯処かぐら), you can enjoy assorted sashimi and other classic dishes such as tempura, grilled fish and agedashi dōfu (揚げ出し豆腐), deep fried tofu in broth. They have a variety of Japanese sake, especially from breweries in Miyagi prefecture!

A table full of Japanese dishes including a platter of sashimi, a bowl of edamame and two glasses of sake.
Traditional Japanese cuisine, including fresh sashimi, at Kagura. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Izakaya Cafe M

Izakaya Cafe M (居酒屋カフェM) is a lively spot with regular local customers. They offer a variety of dishes that go well with booze.

Natto inari-age (納豆稲荷揚げ), deep fried tofu pocket stuffed with fermented soybeans and then baked, and Sanma tsukune (さんまのつくね), sanma meat ball, will be interesting for you to try if you haven’t had any.

A table full of smaller dishes for sharing izakaya-style, including natto inari-age (one of the tofu pockets has been opened to show the natto filling) and sanma meat balls. A glass of beer and a beer bottle can be seen at the top-left of the image.
Have some izakaya-style bites with drinks at Izakaya Cafe M. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

Izakaya Yoko

Izakaya Yoko (IZAKAYA ようこ) is a karaoke bar and also busy with local people. Enjoy home-cooked style dishes while listening to other people singing or you can sing for ¥200 per song! 

Yamaimo isobe-age (山芋磯べ揚げ), deep fried Japanese yam dumpling rolled in nori seaweed, and ika ichiyaboshi yaki (いか一夜干し焼), grilled semi-dried squid are must-have dishes!

A plate of deep-fried Japanese yam dumplings rolled in nori seaweed. Behind it on the left is a glass of beer and to the right a plate of grilled semi-dried squid.
Try deep-fried Japanese yam dumplings rolled in nori seaweed and grilled semi-dried squid at Izakaya Yoko. ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

Bar Sugar Shack

Bar Sugar Shack is great for the closure of the night. From hard liquor to mocktails, enjoy your preference of drink!

Their original “sake squash” (酒スカッシュ), Japanese sake mixed with soda and lemon, is very refreshing. Cobaltore highball is the local football team Cobaltore Onagawa’s official cocktail – the bright blue (cobalt blue) represents the sea of Onagawa! You might also want to try “Reggae punch,” an oolong tea and peach liquor cocktail that originated in Sendai.

The bar is run by a local graffiti artist, check out the work as well!

A Cobaltore Highball, a Reggae Punch and a Sake Squash lined up on a table with orange-colored graffiti art on the wall behind it.
A Cobaltore Highball, Reggae Punch and Sake Squash – at Bar Sugar Shack you can enjoy the drinks and the art! ©︎ 女川みらい創造株式会社

*Smoking is allowed inside at Izakaya Cafe M, Izakaya Yoko and Bar Sugar Shack 
*Check out the business hours of each shop here: http://onagawa-mirai.jp/

Recommended Nearby Restaurants

Sanshu (お食事処三秀) is a favorite diner of locals. Their Yakiniku-meshi (焼肉飯), sautéed thinly sliced pork and vegetables in sweet and savory sauce with rice is super popular and filling!

Yakiniku-meshi, sautéed thinly sliced pork and vegetables in sweet and savory sauce with rice, along with a bowl of egg soup on a black tray on a light natural-colored wooden table. Another dish can be seen peeking in from the top-right.
For a filling, local favorite, head to Sanshu. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

new conori (ニューこのり) is famous for their Anago tendon, deep-fried locally caught conger eel dipped in a soy sauce based sauce atop rice. 

A half-sized anago tendon set, which includes a bowl of rice topped with deep-fried anago conger eel and tempura vegetables, a bowl of miso soup, a small side salad and some pickles. They are all sitting on a black lacquered wooden tray with a red rim, which is sitting on a light natural-colored wooden table.
new conori has made a name for itself with their ‘anago tendon’. Pictured is the half-size set. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Kinkaro (味の館 金華楼) is a long-run Chinese restaurant, very popular with locals and tourists. They offer specialty ramen in each season: with fresh seaweed in spring, hoya (sea squirt) in summer and sanma in fall etc. Their seasonal menu is like a milestone of the Onagawa climate!

Two bowls of ramen, five gyoza and some crunchy ramen toppings in a small bowl.
Capture the essence of each season with Kinkaro’s seasonal menu. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Further information for your visit

Each Michi-no-Eki sells a special souvenir ticket. It’s a collector’s item to commemorate your visit. You can buy an Onagawa Michi-no-Eki ticket at ‘puratto’ travel information center.

A left hand with pink nail polish holds out an Onagawa Michi-no-eki Commemorative Ticket with the port in the background.
An Onagawa Michi-no-eki Commemorative Ticket (Kinen Kippu, 記念きっぷ), 180 yen. ©︎ Masae Ishikawa

Michi-no-Eki website: https://www.michi-no-eki.jp/stations/views/19965

Yupoppo onsen facility, located on the second floor of Onagawa train station: http://onagawa-yupoppo.com/

A container hotel behind the train station: https://hotel-elfaro.com/en/

Follow and tag Michi-no-Eki Onagawa on Instagram: @michinoeki_onagawa

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