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Best Shrine in Town!
There is a reason why the citizens of Shiogama are so proud of their shrine. Most residents of this small seaside city would never dream of attending New Year's celebrations anywhere else, and not just because of location. The main entrance to the shrine involves a 202 step stone staircase through some lovely wooded area, though weather had made the steps rather treacherous, especially in icy weather. There are two other approaches, so you have your choice of ways to get there.
The shrine itself is composed of 4 small prayer spaces within thee larger areas. Each are has its own little gift shop for shinto charms for everything from good luck on a test to safe driving to luck in love. This shrine is also known in the region for selling packs of useful charms and talismans for pregnant women, including a small dog shaped statuette, chosen as dogs are seen as having relatively easy births.
The gardens at the shrine are magnificent in any season, but the real show-stopped is spring. Sakura trees line the walkways up to the shrine via one entrance and a small grove of them exists between the shrine and a parking lot, perfect for hanami. Several different varieties of sakura tree grow there, including 27 of Shiogama-zakura, which are famous for having double blossoms with 10 petals each.
A small maritime museum and an even smaller food/drink building stand near the hanami area, but nothing in Miyagi can hold a light to the excellence of the shrine area.