Beginning and ending at the Aomina Visitor Center, Miyagi Prefecture's 10km-long Oku-Matsushima trail is a fun, short hike for outdoorsy visitors who want to experience the beaches, woods, and little settlements that dot the Oku-Matsushima area. The visitor center is a great little rest spot and sells snacks and drinks, while during the harvesting season a nearby oyster shack serves up mountains of Matsushima's most famous shellfish.
As for the trail itself, it starts out relatively flat, as it winds past little temples and seaside villages, then goes through the pretty flower fields of Satohama Historical Park, a good spot to stop for a breather and a snack. Picking up the trail again, hikers will then forge on past the photogenic Hatsutsuura Bay, Shinhama promontory, and finally, climb up a forested path that leads to Mt. Otakamori.
A highlight of the trail, the vista from the top of Mt. Otakamori's just-under 106m peak is called Sokan. The name literally means “the gorgeous view,” and is considered one of the "Four Beautiful Views" of Matsushima Bay. It does live up to its name, as the sight of the little islands dotting the bay, crisscrossed by boats, looks truly timeless.
The Oku-Matsushima trail is part of the Miyagi Olle, four trails that take hikers around scenic parts of the prefecture. Olle (pronounced o-ru-re) trails are hiking routes that combine aspects of nature, history, and the local community. Olle originated in Korea, and the word means “the alley that connects the main road to your home.” The trails thus often pass by homes and little settlements, giving hikers a glimpse of local lifestyles.
Besides the Oku-Matsushima Trail, Miyagi Prefecture has three other olle: the Kesennuma/Karakuwa, Osaki/Naruko Onsen, and Tome Trails. These are known collectively as the Miyagi Olle. These are usually beginner-friendly trails that come in around 10 kilometers long, and so can be walked in about 4 hours.
Wonderfully natural with just the right amount of culture, the Oku-Matsushima Trail, along with the other Olle trails, is an excellent way to experience the beauty of Miyagi Prefecture.