Matsushima. A name that connotes beauty and longing. A mystical landscape said to resemble paradise itself. A Mecca to visit at least once in this life. Follow in the footsteps of the monks, poets and artists who made journeys to Matsushima for 1000 years. Watch the sunrise as 260 small islands topped with pine trees turn into distinctive silhouettes. Linger as the evening fog recalls a hazy sumi-e monochrome painting. Time your visit to see the full moon illuminate a golden path through the bay. Slow down and be inspired by Matsushima's beauty as it changes with the time of day and the seasons.
From the main Matsushima Kaigan waterfront, three bridges connect you to small islands each with special qualities. Three short footbridges take you to Godaido Temple, first established in 807 AD to protect the area. A mystical priest who once lived on Oshima Island gave rise to legends of its spiritual power. Haiku poet Matsuo Basho first set foot in Matsushima here. Cross a long red bridge to reach the garden island, Fukuurajima Island, with flowers blooming from late winter to summer. Take a short boat ride from Marine Gate Shiogama to the 5 inhabited Urato islands, which make for a perfect day trip to experience the slower place of island life.
Stroll through the historical center of Matsushima where you can visit Zuiganji Temple (National Treasure), the family temple for the founders of Sendai, Godaido Temple overlooking the water, and Entsuin Temple with a Japanese garden and rock garden inspired by Matsushima Bay.
Try fresh fish straight from local fishermen. Stop by Shiogama Fish Market and choose your favorite fish to make the perfect sashimi rice bowl. Have a meal to remember at one of Shiogama's many sushi restaurants that draw customers from across Japan. Matsushima has several rustic oyster shacks where you can see how many grilled oysters you can eat!
The waves crash against the outside of the bay, shaping the rocks into dramatic patterns. Take a boat ride to see the stark cliffs of Sagakei Gorge from Miyato Island, just south of Nobiru Station.
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