Matsushima is the name given to a group of 260 pine-covered islands scattered in the bay of the same name. The landscape changes continuously, from island to island and according to the seasons.
Matsushima is considered one of the three most beautiful sites in Japan, with Miyajima Island near Hiroshima and Amanohasidate near Kyoto. Legend has it that the poet Basho, on his way to Matsushitma, could not write a single verse about this area because there were no words to evoke the beauty of the place.
There is a train station in Matsushima, but it is better to get off at Matsushima Kaigan, as it is closer to the main points of interest. At the exit there is a tourist information office that distributes maps of the area.
This temple, one of the largest Zen temples in Tohoku, belonged to the Date clan of Sendai. It was founded in 828 and the current building was built in 1604. The peacock room in the main building is classified as a National Treasure. A museum attached to the building exhibits cultural assets of the temple and the Date family. the Saiyu-den (treasure room) where works of art related to the Date family are exhibited. the avenue of access to the temple is lined with tall cedars, with altars and eroded Buddhas on both sides.
Godi-do is a small wooden temple that opens to the public only once every 33 years. Should you miss the 2006 visit, settle for the views of the sea and the 12 Chinese zodiac animals sculpted on the eaves.
The Kanran-tei pavilion was offered to the Date family by Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the end of the 16th century. It served as a refined setting for tea ceremonies and moonlighting.
On the island of Futura-jima connected to the mainland by a 252m long red wooden bridge, there is a botanical garden where you can take a relaxing walk. Also, the island of Oshima is accessible via a bridge. In the past it was a monastic shot, and is famous for its rocks with Buddhist sculptures, statue, meditation caves and relics.
Oku Matsushima: More background of Matsushima
In this area, natural beauty is the order of the day. The panoramic 40 m high Sagakei Canyon overlooks the Pacific Ocean, which breaks at its feet in a strong surf. Otakamori is a small hill in the center of Miyato Island, from where you can see a fantastic panorama, including Mount Sao and Kinkasan.