If you’re staying in Sendai, a quick day trip could be to Matsushima. It’s definitely worth the small change and 30 minutes it takes to get there. Matsushima (meaning “pine island”) is coveted as one of the top 3 scenic views in Japan. Kris and I were slightly concerned as we knew that this area had been affected by the tsunami. To our great relief, it was still (mostly) in tact.
As in Sendai, there were still signs of damage. The ocean washes up debris daily on the beaches and the rocky islands don’t have nearly as many trees on them as they once did. That said, it was still a breath-taking sight. The jagged outcroppings of rock that seem to spring from the ocean amazingly covered in pine trees is enough to make anyone take a moment to appreciate the view.
Matsushima is famous for it’s hundreds of islands of all shapes, heights, and sizes. You can grab a ferry for a nominal fee of 1,600 yen to take you out and around many of the islands. Ok, so 1,600yen isn’t nominal, but it’s well worth it. Not to mention, the seagulls know that tourists will feed them from the boats, so as the boat plows out to sea, the back deck is surrounded in flying seagulls and families trying to feed them. Both parties squeal in delight and excitement.
Some of the famous red bridges have been washed away but one of the more substantial ones still stands. It has a 200yen toll, but don’t let that stop you. The island it connects to is large and covered in many walking paths that cleverly swing by all the most scenic spots.
Lastly, with a good pair of walking shoes or a car, anyone can access two of the famous viewing spots in Matsushima. They are on the outskirts of town and a bit of a hike, but from the tops of the surrounding mountains, you can see islands that stretch far out to sea. If your timing is right, you can even snag some spectacular sunrise photos. That’s if you are willing to get up at 4am. Your call.