Shiogama is a fishing town outside of Sendai that has several places worth a visit. From one of Tohoku's most famous shrines to sampling some of the freshest sushi north of Tsukiji, if you are looking for fresh food, history, with some nature to boot, put Shiogama on your itinerary. One place in Shiogama that offers a little bit of everything is the Marine Gate complex located at Shiogama Port.
You don't need a reason to go the Marine Gate complex, just show up and you'll find something you enjoy. First you should go up. While there are elevators up to the third floor inside, to reach the observation deck you'll need to huff it up a final set of stairs to make it to the top outside. As the sea breeze whiffs through your hair--or just makes your head cold if you are lacking like me--you are rewarded with views of the town, unique architecture of the building and of course the view of Shiogama Bay. To see the best the bay has to offer do go to the first floor travel window to make a reservation for either a cruise around the bay, or ferry trip to Matsushima. While there are multiple trips each day, you won't need to worry about being bored waiting around. You still have three floors of fun to explore.
The first floor of the Marine Gate complex is full of shops selling souvenirs and some food items. Browsing the stores, it appeared locals and tourists alike can and do enjoy shopping here. There were some various specialty seafood items being sold. However, most tourists would be more interested in one store filled wall-to-wall with gifts. Postcards, key chains, charms, snacks, basically all you need if you wanted to bring a memory or present back home. Another store had some funky fashion and I thought the store looked more like something out of Tokyo, but it was a nice change of pace and the younger crowd could really enjoy it. All that shopping could make you hungry, so check out your options on the second and third floors.
Being a seaside town, it was no surprise to see many restaurants selling sushi, but no fear as there was much more variety than I expected. Chinese food, a ramen place, and pizza eatery with great bar were some of the highlights. There were about a dozen or so places so there are options and all seemed popular. Do keep in mind though that I couldn't find any really cheap or takeaway options, so do expect to pay 1000 yen plus for a good meal. On the other hand, several of the restaurants offer views of the port, so that comes with a price too I suppose. I just used the observation deck for my free view and picked up some cheap baked goods near the station. I recommend the traveler on the budget do the same. To properly enjoy the ferry service, shopping, and food, do budget accordingly.
While ferry service hours change and operate on their own schedule from season to season, the rest of the Marine Gate Shiogama complex has set hours. First floor shopping is open 9:00-18:00 (9am-6pm) while second and third floor restaurants from 11:00-22:00 (11am-10pm).