Matsushima, one of the three old views of Japan
Matsushima makes up one of the three old views of Japan,
together with the Amanohashidate sandbar of Kyoto Prefecture and Itsukushima Island of Hiroshima.
Also known for being one of the best sightseeing spots in Miyagi Prefecture, the number of tourists in 2010 reached 6.24 million.
This is a spot loved by people of all ages from both Japan and abroad.
The beautiful scenery and history of Matsushima
Matsushima is the general name given to the bay area, where there are more than 260 islands.
Floating out in the calm blue sea, these small islands are covered with green pine trees.
Together with the white surface of the rocks, this is one of nature’s works of art, and as such, it attracts a great many people.
The current views of Matsushima are said to have been created about 5,000 years ago.
There was a time when this was a hilly area of land, but due to movements in the Earth’s crust and global warming,
sea levels rose and only the tops of the mountains and hills remained above the ocean.
That is the Matsushima we can see today.
The views of Matsushima are loved by many tourists, but this isn’t something new.
This area has long been known as a popular place for viewing the moon, and many celebrities are said to have visited here to view it.
Famous visitors include Date Masamune, the first feudal lord of the Sendai domain,
Basho Matsuo, a famous poet from the Edo era, and physicist Albert Einstein.
Take a tour boat around Matsushima!
If you want to enjoy more of the history and sights of Matsushima, take a ride on one of the tour boats.
It’s 1,500 yen for adults, and 750 yen for children aged 6 and over.
Children aged 5 and under go free.
The ride lasts 50 minutes.
From the boat, you can look out over the islands and scenery of Matsushima Bay,
giving you a view you could never get from the shore.
Both large and small boats are available, and both individuals and groups can enjoy the experience to their heart's content.
Four seasons of beauty
Matsushima is famous for the landscape created by the islands and the sea,
but there are many other attractions as well.
In spring, the plum and cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and together with Matsushima Bay,
they create some spectacular views.
With its fresh verdure, Summer is the most beautiful season.
The green leaves of the maple trees decorate the gardens of Entsuin Temple, a refreshing sight perfect for a walk.
When fall arrives, the landscapes of the fresh verdure completely change,
and the whole area is painted with the colors of autumn leaves.
In winter, a blanket of snow makes the landscape even more atmospheric.
One of the charms of Matsushima is that the landscape changes from season to season.
Matsushima’s top 3 highlights
1. Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park
This park offers a panoramic view of Matsushima Bay.
Saigyo Hoshi, a poet from the Kamakura period (1185-1333), was on a pilgrimage when he met a young boy underneath a pine tree.
They exchanged Buddhist riddles, and after losing, Saigyo gave up on his journey to Matsushima.
Legend has it that this encounter is the origin of the park’s name, which literally means “the pine tree which made Saigyo return”.
In spring, more than 260 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees are in bloom, and you can look out over both Matsushima Bay and the blossoms.
There’s also a cafe in the park, so you can enjoy a light snack while taking in these wonderful views.
However, there are some steep slopes leading up to the park, so take care while walking or biking up.
2. Fall light up at Entsuin Temple
Entsuin is just one of the many temples found in Matsushima.
A place to worship the descendants of the Date clan,
it’s also located directly next to Zuiganji Temple, an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
The best time to visit is during fall when the autumn leaves are lit up.
This can only be seen from mid-October to the end of November each year, and it’s well worth seeing just once.
The pond reflects the trees like a mirror, while the illuminated fall foliage creates a fantastical sight.
3. Matsushima Ryuto-e Umi no Bon Festival
Umi no Bon is a summer festival held in Matsushima every year.
It’s a new event that began after the Great East Japan Earthquake, which took place on March 11, 2011.
The idea is to hold a memorial service on the sacred land of Matsushima, while also enjoying the lively atmosphere of the festival.
Fireworks are also launched during the festival, and this event makes both adults and children alike smile from within.
As beautiful as ever, despite being damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake
The Great East Japan Earthquake caused unprecedented damage to various parts of the Pacific coast.
Although Matsushima was also damaged, it was miraculously spared from total destruction.
Having not been washed away by the tsunami, the precious pine trees are still there today.
Matsushima is easily accessible from both the Tokyo area and Sendai, and is visited by around 3 million tourists every year.
Go and see the stunning landscape of Matsushima, loved by people of all ages from both Japan and abroad.