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Shiogama is a city located on the eastern part of Miyagi Prefecture and is known for its salt production.


Shiogama (塩竈 or 塩釜) is a port city on the eastern part of Miyagi Prefecture. The name of the city literally translates to salt (塩, shio) furnace (竈, gama). However, there is another set of kanji that is permitted to use for the city’s name, which is salt (塩, shio) kettle (釜, gama). The second kanji is interchangeable because when put with another character it has the same reading, but individually they have different readings. Shiogama has long been known for its production of salt. One of the ancient methods used to harvest salt was by boiling saltwater in giant kettles. This method is still performed in the Shiogama Shrine, which is located in the center of the city. The ritual is performed every July at the shrine.

Shiogama Shrine is also a popular cherry blossom viewing spot with a wide variety of the tree. Another event that is held in July is the Shiogama Port Festival, which is one of the three largest boat celebrations in Japan. The Mikoshi Kaijo Togyo (portable shrine cruise) is two beautifully decorated boats called Ryuho Maru (dragon) and Hoo Maru (phoenix). Portable shrines representing Shiwahikojinja and Shiogamajinja are placed on the large boats. The boats then cruise around Matsushima Bay and are followed by smaller sized fishing cruisers. Those that participate in the celebration pray for safety at sea and for bountiful catches. Shiogama city supports an enormous fishing industry where a significant amount of the tuna and swordfish caught is processed there. Along Shiogama’s waterfront people can see the industry in action. Subsequently the development of the city as a fishing center is thanks to the Shiogama Line opening in 1887. The Shiogama Fish Market is open to the public and is known for supplying fresh seafood to Sendai, Tokyo and other places. Its local specialty is seafood and boasts the highest density of sushi restaurants per capita in Japan.

There are a few sightseeing cruises that leave from Shiogama port to venture around Matsushima Bay, one of the three most scenic spots in the country. The boarding area is in the Marine Gate complex, which has a wide selection of restaurants that uses the freshest seafood. There are also shops and observation platforms that provide a great view of the port. It is another reason why people who visit the nearby Matsushima city go to Shiogama. The cruises that leave from Shiogama make a stop to the Urato Islands. Sabusawa, Nonoshima, Katsura and Hoh comprise Urato Islands, which have been inhabited for hundreds of years. These islands can be explored by foot and most of the residents of the area are traditionally part of the fishing industry. During the springtime the islands are decorated with the blooming variety of flowers, which are a delight.