It takes about two hours on the Hitachi Limited Express from Ueno Station in Tokyo to get to Izumi Station in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture in the Tohoku region of Japan. Access is unexpectedly convenient. The sightseeing spot that I would like to present to you today is the Onahama Port area of Iwaki, the largest city in the southern part of Fukushima Prefecture. Onahama Port can be reached in about 15 minutes by taxi from Izumi Station at a cost of about ¥2,400. This is how we started our one-day program in this area. Onahama Port is known as the sea entrance to Tohoku. For a time, the port lost its liveliness due to the damage it suffered in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. It was subsequently repaired and the scars left by the earthquake are no longer visible. Bit by bit, the port had been restored to its former glory.
Iwaki Lalamew, the first place we visited, is a produce center designed around the concept of a market. It feels clean and contemporary. Great for sightseeing, the first floor is dedicated to stalls selling various kinds of fresh seafood. Visitors can also enjoy eating oysters, scallops, and other kinds of seafood right at the fish shops. The center also has restaurants with commanding sea views. In addition to enjoying dishes created from freshly caught seafood, visitors can also go shopping for local specialties and souvenirs in the shops.
The clean, bright seafood shopping street on the first floor.
Different kinds of fresh seafood.
This unusually shaped creature that I found while wandering around the seafood market is a sea squirt, better known as a sea pineapple. Despite its name, it is not a fruit, but a kind of sea animal.
A seafood snack created from sea urchin and crab meat.
A pleasure boat ticket booth is located right by the water. Iwaki Lalamew offers more than opportunities to explore the wonderful flavors of fresh seafood. Visitors can also embark on an outdoor experience on the Iwaki sightseeing boat. Tickets cost ¥1,800 for a cruise of approximately 60 minutes. Please don’t think of this as the kind of experience where you just get on a boat and sail out of the port. Nearby, you will notice dozens of seagulls eagerly waiting for the tourists to board the sightseeing boat. Tourists taking the cruise can buy kappa ebisen snacks for ¥50 a pack at stores on the first floor of Iwaki Lalamew; the seagulls are looking forward to being fed these. The sightseeing boat operates one cruise per hour between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Lining up to board the sightseeing cruise ship.
Seagulls waiting to be fed.
Cath is throwing a small kappa ebisen to the seagulls with her full-powered pitching form!
It’s not just about throwing the kappa ebisen up into the air. It’s also nice to try holding a kappa ebisen and bravely stretching out your arm so that the seagulls flying around the boat can come and snatch it from your hand.
A seagull demonstrating speed and brilliant accuracy.
The seagulls never stopped following us during the entire 60-minute cruise. Aside from feeding the gulls, it’s also lovely to sit in the comfy cabin gazing at the coastline and the sparkling waves of the Pacific Ocean. I had such a pleasant time enjoying the views. It was my first time on this cruise, and there was not a spare second to nod off.
Pictured: the seating on the top deck of the cruise ship.
We decided to have lunch after getting off the boat. Traveling on a boat with a full stomach is not terribly pleasant. The destination we chose after enjoying the ocean views is Phoenix, an authentic seafood restaurant with large windows that face the sea. Iwaki is known for its marlin and mehikari (chlorophthalmus albatrossis). What’s more, we decided to try both. Enjoying huge mouthfuls of crispy fried whole mehikari and eating the curry topped with marlin feels so unusual and refreshing. It’s as if each mouthful is a perfect match for the beautiful coastal scenery.
Pictured: sitting by the window enjoying a set meal of fresh fish.
Marlin cutlet curry.
Fried mehikari is crispy, similar to the freshwater fish from the mountain rivers of Taiwan.
The restaurant’s lovely owner, Ms. Harada.
Address: 43-1, Aza Tatsumi-Cho, Onahama, Iwaki
Opening hours: 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Transportation: A 15-minute bus ride from Izumi Station, JR Joban Line on Onahama- or Ena-bound buses, then a 10-minute walk from Shisho Iriguchi bus stop. Alternatively, a 15-minute taxi from Izumi Station.