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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK

Miyagi - Picture perfect

Any local will be quick to point out the scenery in Miyagi, although it seems that wherever you go in Japan, there is always picturesque places to visit.

However, Miyagi, located on the north-eastern part of Honshu central island, does have its fair share of hot springs, mountain highlands and Pacific coastline.

And Matsushima, with over 260 islands dotted off its shores, is known as one of the three most beautiful cities in Japan.

Overall though, Miyagi is also famed for its strong electronic, agricultural and fishing industries.

Area facts

  • Population: 1m
  • City: Sendai
  • Location: Northern Tohoku region on central island Honshu
  • Local team: Velgata Sendai
  • Sights: 260 islands off Matsushima Bay, hot springs
  • Top products: Rice, beef and strawberries
  • In fact, if rice, beef and strawberries tickle your fancy, then this is the place to go.

    At the political and economic heart is the region's capital Sendai, often called the Forest City.

    Sendai is your standard bustling Japanese city with a few cultural sights, good restaurants and some great nightlife options.

    As with most cities that were levelled by Allied bombing during WWII, the past has been wiped out and replaced with a grid pattern of streets and boulevards.

    One person worth bearing in mind when visiting is Date Masamune, otherwise known as Dokuganryu (One-Eyed Dragon).

    Date (1567-1636) may be long gone, but he is a dominant figure in Sendai's history, having ruled over the region during Japan's feudal period.

    Foreign contact

    Despite going blind in one eye after catching smallpox as a child, Date became one of the most powerful lords in the country and made the city a culture centre in the northeast of Japan.

    In 1613, he sent envoys from Miyagi, aboard the San Juan Bautista, to establish trade relations with the outside world.

    The group journeyed to several European cities, including the Vatican where they presented a formal letter to Pope Paul V.

    That was a long time ago, but certainly the arrival of the 2002 World Cup will help keep global attention on the area.

    Certainly the locals may have a taste for top flight football after their team Velgata Sendai was promoted to the Japanese first division at the end of last season.

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