From ”visitor” to ”local” Full of gratitude for the people of the Urato Islands,
Leave more than just your footsteps behind: Support farmers, fishermen and neighbours
For future visitors, for your own future visit, and for the future of Urato.
Feel the island breeze and lose yourself in ”island time” as you learn more
about the nature, history, people and story of the Urato Islands.
”Nonoshima” is the central island of Urato and administrative hub of daily-life support services, home to the Urato Islands Development Centre (a branch office of Shiogama City also known as the ”Blue Centre”).
As part of the ”Nonoshima Flower Island” project, the island is dotted with flower gardens created by volunteers, and community planting activities, especially of lavender and other herbs, are regularly held.
Katsurashiima is the westernmost island of Urato, and the closest to the mainland of Shiogama.
The narrow island is home to two villages, Katsurashima to the west and Ishihama to the east. Visitors can feel the history of the islands as they walk along hiking trails, enjoying stunning lookouts over Matsushima Bay, Matsusaki Shrine, the \’Ameyoshi\’ stone and other mysterious spots, though the island is best known for its beautiful sandy beaches with calm waves facing-out to the vast Pacific.
The fishing industry is the mainstay of the island, and the seaweed and oysters cultivated in the nutrient-rich bay are particularly famous for their excellent taste and quality. In early spring, the night sea is beautifully lit by fires of the whitebait fishermen; a sight that heralds the coming of spring in the Urato Islands.
Sabusawa Island is the largest of the Urato Islands.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the island flourished as a port for the Date Clan’s rice trade. As you wander the island, you can still feel the prosperity of the ancient port in historical sites like the twelve zodiac direction-stones on Hiyori-yama, the ’Shimari-Jizo’ statue (a relic of Edo-period prostitutes pining for sailors), a monument to the ’Kaiseimaru’, Japan’s first Western-style warship, and the remains of an artillery battery.
A walk to the far side of the island will be rewarding with a beautiful, calm sandy beach all to yourself.
There are no rivers or natural water sources on Sabusawa Island, so rice and vegetables are grown only with rainwater. With Autumn comes nostalgic scenery of amber rice-fields and the harvest drying in the sun.
Houjima is the smallest of the four islands of Urato but no less attractive, boasting a rich natural environment, including a grove of ’Tabu’ trees, which are rare in this region of Japan.
The island was also known as ”Hou (Treasure) jima (Island)” in the Edo period (1603-1868) because of a legend that the Sendai Clan’s military gold and treasure were once hidden there.
The island\’s main industry is fishing (mostly oyster farming) but it is also famous for its hills of golden ’nanohana’ blossoms in spring, the seeds of which are harvested and shipped as ”Matsushima Hakusai” seeds.