To go to my destination, Goishi coast of Ofunato Iwate prefecture, I disembarked at the JR Kesennuma Station. The train tracks that ran towards Ofunato prior to the Great East Japan earthquake were destroyed along with Kesennuma station by the tsunami and a part of its track bed was paved to create a dedicated route for the operations of the Bus Rapid Transit (BTR). While looking at the passing Rikuzentakata port landscape from my bus window, enormous belt conveyors clearing debris to reclaimed land from the old city and it felt like the birth of a new town. After about 1 hour of traveling through the mountainous areas to Ofunato, I arrived at my bus stop Goishi Kaigan Iriguchi.
The scenic coastal spots of Goishi Kaigan, Minami Sanriku
You will find unparalleled scenic spots about 15 minutes by car from the Goishi Kaigan Iriguchi (Goishi Coast Entrance) bus stop along the Goishi coast which is located in the southeast end of the Matsusaki Peninsula. The first sight is Anatooshiiso. This pine tree topped rock formation with its three holes reminded me of a bonsai. Next, I arrived at the entrance of Goishi coast. While climbing the rugged hiking path along the cliffs to Goishimisaki Cape my five senses were filled by captivating scenic views, the aromas of seas brought by the north blowing winds and the deep bass body shaking thundering sound of the waves crashing against the rock formations.
The inn reopened at a new location
Going downhill from Goishi Kaigan Iriguchi (Goishi Coast Entrance) you will find the inn, “Kaisan no Shuku Goishiso Bettei Umisampo” on elevated ground overlooking the beach. This inn had just reopened 2 years ago and the guest rooms are equipped with amenities among other facilities providing a comfortable environment for their guests. The inn’s name Umisampo which is translated into “sea walk” is exactly what this inn is- a walk by the Sanriku sea.
The authentic taste of Sanriku area cuisine
Umisampo prides itself on its luxurious Sanriku seafood dinner. The presentation of each dish will entertain the eye. The best feature of this meal is the freshness of its ingredients. Seafood representing the Sanriku area such as pacific saury, scallops and swordfish are made into an eye-catching sashimi dish. The crispy texture of the scallops and goodness of the fat of the pacific saury makes one break into a smile. Usually you will find the saury accompanied by ginger however in its place is garlic. Dipping the saury into the garlic melted in soy sauce is a delightful surprise as it perfectly matches the fat of the saury. The owner told me that the taste of ginger would overbearing and you lose the sweetness of the saury’s fat. Only in local areas will you be able to encounter new dining experiences such as these.
From the bonds from its guests the inn was able resume operations
Hiroki Owada, the owner, welcomes you with the gentle smile and takes care of your needs. Behind that smiling face are the hardships he endured on his grueling journey back to resuming the inn following the Great East Japan earthquake and also the emotional bond he has with his guests. On March 11, 2011 the tsunami engulfed the former inn, Goishiso, and washed it away. The following day, Owada stood dumbfounded in the midst of the devastation as he had lost everything he owned then he received a phone call. It was from a guest that had previously stayed at his inn saying, “Do you have rice? Are you okay? Let me send you some rice.” Owada declined the kind offer as he felt that he shouldn’t take advantage of this kind gesture however not long after rice arrived. Soon, his many previous guests gave their support by sending food and daily essentials. He was humbled with great gratitude from the kindness of his guests.
As he was clearing away the rumble and began planning on rebuilding a new inn he suddenly began wondering on what type of inn his guests would desire. At the same time, he also thought that disappearance of one inn like this would not make a difference nevertheless having received so much heart felt support from his guests, he felt as though they had granted him permission to rebuild. Prior to the earthquake, the locals often came to his inn for banquets regardless of day or night. His concept for this new inn would be a place where a single guest could stay quietly at a leisurely pace and with this idea, he started to level the mountain behind his former inn. Rebuilding took place over a year. At his new inn, he provides hearty dishes such as baked tuna head for large groups and would plan a completely new menu in hopes that it would satisfy individual guests or women.
Owada used the word “Bettei” in for the name of his inn. Literally translated it means “villa” to differentiate his present inn from his former one.