By Cole Lubchenko
Matsushima is located in the Sendai metro area; it is a collection of hundreds of islands off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. While Matsushima has faced a difficult few years recovering from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, it has certainly rebounded and is rightfully back in its spot as one of Japan’s three most beautiful sights, or in Japanese, Nihon Sankei. The damage to the area was extensive and long-lasting, but now the area has returned to its former beauty.
The trip from Sendai Station to Matsushima is less than 40 minutes and it isn’t necessary to make any transfers. The train ride goes along the coast and it is possible to see many islands and boats out of the train window. When arriving at Matsushima Kaigan Station the beauty of the area is clearly displayed. Islands dot the coastline with several red bridges connecting them to the shore.
I visited three of the islands that were easily accessible and each island had something unique to offer. The first island was small with a temple worn from the salty sea breeze. It looked beautiful against the sea. The second island I visited was the largest. It had a large open garden in the middle that was slightly disappointing after seeing the rest of the island’s natural beauty. The beaches and cliffs were unlike anything I had seen before. The sky’s overcast clouds were breaking up and revealing a beautiful blue. The contrast with the white rocks, green trees, and traditionally styled red bridges was stunning. The whole area was a surreal landscape that I had only seen in pictures and paintings. The third island was small but it was the least crowded and one of the most fun to explore. While of course I wasn’t, it felt like I was the first one to visit in ages. It felt like I was exploring the unexplored.
Matsushima was also filled with many other temples and attractions worth visiting. There were beautiful cave carvings. I also visited a traditional Japanese garden and a tree that was many centuries old. The area is worth spending a full day in, and I also recommend trying some local seafood. If you are in the Sendai area it is a must see.