Ranked by the Japanese as one of Japan's three great views (along with Miyajima and Amanohashidate), Matsushima has long been a popular tourist destination. The great poet Bashō Matsuo (1644-1694) came here and exclaimed in one of his most famous Haiku poem : "Matsushima, Ah! Matsushima! Matsushima!".
Matsushima is made up of over 200 small, pine-tree covered (as its name indicated) islands. Take one of the boat cruises to Shiogama or Oku-Matsushima, or walk to the islands of Fukuura-jima and Oshima to fully appreciate the splendor of the landscape.
The islands of Matsushima apart, there are a few attractions on the coast of Matsushima Bay opposite.
Between Matsushima Kaigan station and the Cruise Boats, the Kanran-tei Pavillion (観欄亭) was given by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to the Date lords of Sendai for moon-viewing and tea ceremony.
The Godai-dō Hall (五大堂), a minor wooden temple facing the Matsushima Kanko Hotel, was founded in 807 and has five statues enshrined by the same priest who founded the Zuiganji. It is only open once every 33 years, the next time being in 2006.
Further inside the land, a few hundreds meters due North of Matsushima Kaigan station is the Zuigan-ji temple (瑞巌寺). It was founded by the Tendai sect as early as 828, long before >a href="sendai.shtml">Sendai existed. The current structure was build by Sendai lord Date Masamune in 1606, and is one of Tohoku's finest Zen temple. Don't miss the lavish Seiryuden (清流殿).
How to get there
The JR Tōhoku line "Rapid Umikaze" connects Sendai to Matsushima Kaigan in 25 minutes (￥400). Watch out not to go as far as Matsushima station, one stop after Matsushima Kaigan, as it is a longer walk to Matsushima Island. From Matsushima Kaigan, its about 500m to the harbour where boat leave for the island.