Once I finished up at Yamadera Temple I got on a train back to Sendai Station where I quickly transferred to another train that took me to Matsushima. I got off the train at Matsushima Kaigan Station and my plan was to spend the rest of the afternoon visiting places along Matsushima Bay. This bay is considered one of the most scenic places in Japan and I wish I had gotten there a little earlier so that I had more time to look around before returning to Sendai. For today’s post I thought I’d try something new and include a screenshot of Google Maps (above) with some marks that indicate the spots I visited.
After exiting the station I started my time in Matsushima by walking down to Oshima Island. This small island is connected to the mainland by a bridge and has a couple of short walking paths on it, as well as some views of the bay that you can catch between the trees. Long ago monks used to come to Oshima to meditate and you can find the remains of their prayer caves on the island.
I next walked up towards the main part of town and passed by the sightseeing boat pier. Cruises around Matsushima Bay depart regularly from this pier and I intended to get a ticket for one of the sightseeing boats at the end of my day in Matsushima but first there were two other places I wanted to visit.
The first was Godaido Hall, which is on an islet just a minute away from the boat pier. Godaido is a small temple that’s considered to be the symbol of Matsushima and was first built in 807. The temple you see today is a reconstruction from 1604 and inside it are five sacred statues that are only viewable by the public every 33 years. I think the next time the statues will be viewable is 2039. From the temple area you can get more views of Matsushima Bay, including the line of cruise ships docking and launching from the pier.
When I crossed back from Godaido to the mainland I next headed to Zuiganji Temple. Zuiganji is a prominent Zen temple that was originally built in 828 and rebuilt in 1609 as the family temple of Date Masamune (whose statue is at the Aoba Castle Ruins). A long path lined by cedar trees leads up to the temple and unfortunately photography is not allowed inside. What I can’t show you are the painted interiors of the temple, which are definitely worth the admission fee. Outside the temple near the main approach are more prayer caves that were dug out of the side of a rock wall.
I hurried back to the boat pier after leaving Zuiganji but I had just barely missed the last sightseeing boat of the day. While its disappointing to have missed out on a cruise around the bay, on the plus side that gives me a reason to come back to Matsushima one day. I bought myself some ice cream as a consolation and then walked to Matsushima Kaigan Station where I caught the next train to Sendai. The next day I’d be continuing the journey northwards and beginning my time on the northern island of Hokkaido.