With the spike in international tourism to Japan, we find that people are being funneled into a one-size-fits-all type of experience in Japan. The large cities that are easily accessible on the bullet train do everything they can to offer a flawless, complete package for immediate consumption. Foods can be acquired regardless of season, and products and cuisines that were once rare, regional specialties have migrated into the central hub of these cities.
Human society however, is not a stable product made from a flawless mold, but as ever-changing and dynamic as the ocean itself. Kesennuma lives in harmony with this concept. Backed by the strong will and adaptability required of seafaring, the city has always welcomed change. Many of the things we admire about Japan are very visible here: the so-called “samurai spirit” is very much alive in the fisherman who brave high seas. Japan’s resilience and dedication to making continuous improvements is also embodied by the Kesennuma locals involved in the town’s recovery. Industry, human effort, forward-thinking, and acceptance of change both positive and negative make this city an ideal destination if you want unique insight into the roots of Japanese society and culture, and human society as a whole.
See and contribute to an ongoing recovery
Kesennuma has long been on the map in Japan as one of the most productive fishing ports in the entire country. You can see in action the fishing and shipbuilding industries that have, and continue to play vital economic roles, and distinguish Japan’s seafood tradition as among the best in the world. Additionally, you can see how the city as a whole has recovered from the devastating tsunami in 2011, and the passion of the people that enabled the stunning rebound.
Someone's job makes it all possible. The sake you drink or sushi you eat comes as a direct result of someone's effort. But it’s often easy to lose sight of the source of these things. For the times we want to be more conscious of our purchases, might choose local ingredients, or fair trade products, but the real effect of our purchases is still mostly invisible in large city centers.
Kesennuma however is on the path to recovery, and nearly everyone in town has a hand in it, as nearly everyone here was by the tsunami in some way. Rather than having your travel budget disappear into the void of the massive Tokyo economy, you can be assured that the money you spend eating, drinking and experiencing this community goes directly back to the city that is working hard to re-establish itself as one of the top ports in Japan.
Seeing it firsthand
We recommend venturing out into the beautiful coastal landscape to deepen your understanding of the area. Cycling is very popular here, and one of the best ways to improve your perspective. See both the beautiful geographical elements that distinguish the area, as well as their approach to rebuilding affected parts of the city from the ground up, not to mention you'll be working up a healthy appetite for the seafood delicacies that dot the region!
Kesennuma, is one of the communities which make up the Sanriku Coast. Sanriku is known as a ria coast, made up of narrow inlets undulating in and out along the coast, creating nooks for marine life and fishing ports. Sanriku is also the meeting point of two major Pacific currents, the cold water Oyashio and the warm water Kuroshio, making it rich in plankton, and a passage for various marine species. Both of these aspects have contributed historically to Kesennuma's development as a prosperous fishing port, and cycling through the area will show you this firsthand.
[RIAS ARK MUSEUM OF ART] A solemn yet invaluable exhibition dedicated to the 2011 tsunami.
For those who see travel as a time for reflection and broadening their perspectives, seeing the resilience of this community, even in the face of the immense power of nature will surely be a profound cultural experience. The people of Kesennuma work hard with a smile for their way of life, and the port is always open for you!