Photo:jpellgen on Flickr

Matsushima Bay: One of Japan’s Three Most Scenic Views

I visited Matsushima Bay during my volunteer activity in Higashimatsushima city in Miyagi Prefecture, which is one of the city that severely hit by the big earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Matsushima Bay is called one of the Japan’s three most scenic views together with Miyajima in Hiroshima and Amanohashidate in Kyoto. There are around 200 small islands scattered around the bay and the islands are covered by the pine trees therefore it is called Matsushima (matsu is pine and shima is island in Japanese).

There are many attractions in the Matsushima Bay area. Famous temples include : Zuiganji (the most renowned Zen temple in Tohoku area), Entsuin Temple (mausoleum of Date Mitsumune), Tenrinin Temple (mausoleum of his daughter, Lady Iroha) and Godaido (a Buddhist worship hall). Fukuurajima (one of the islands covered by pines), and some museums are also worth a visit but unfortunately I could only visit a few of them.

My recommendation to enjoy Matsushima Bay is to get on the boat cruise to see the beautiful islands. My group leader bought the boat ticket for us and chose the Route B which means the boat will depart in Matsushima Pier and arrive in Shiogama Pier. The ticket costs around 1400 yen per person. As for the other route, the boat departs and arrives in Matsushima Pier. It turned out that I had one hour free before departure, so I decided to go around the bay while waiting for the boat.

boat cruise
People were queuing to get on the cruise boat.

I went to Godaido which is a building near Matsushima Pier. I thought it was a temple but I could not go in because it is only open for special ceremonies. So I just walked around the building and the view was really beautiful.

from Godaido
The view from Godaido

I could see a red bridge that connects the shore with an island called Fukuurajima which is one of the island in the bay that functions as a natural garden. The bridge itself is called Fukuurabashi and actually we can cross that bridge but it costs 200 yen to cross it. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to enjoy Fukuurajima because I had to get on the boat.

The boat cruise trip took 50 minutes to complete and during that time I could enjoy the beautiful scenery of the islands and the blue sea as well as the fresh air around the bay. Each of the island has different shape thus they all have different names and meanings. During the trip there was always a woman voice that could be heard in the entire boat which functioned as a guide so she would give us explanations if we passed certain important points, including the information about the islands’ names. But unfortunately all explanations were given in Japanese.

from boat
The view from the boat

The boat has two decks and we can sit anywhere and change seat if we want to. There are also many seagulls that followed the boat so if we want to interact with them, we can buy food in the boat and feed them.

The seagulls

If you visit Miyagi Prefecture and want to enjoy some fresh air as well as a mesmerizing scenery, then Matsushima Bay is definitely worth a visit!

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