Three-starred Michelin Green Guide attraction, Matsushima Bay
The Matsushima bay is famous for being one of Japan’s Top Three Scenic Spots. This seaside town in Miyagi Prefecture has also been rated a three-star attraction by the Michelin Green Guide.
In fact, the sight of the sparkling bay dotted with some 260 islets of white rock topped with green pines is said to be so breathtakingly beautiful that it left Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho who penned the "Narrow and Deep Path", lost for words. This is said to hark back to the thinking of ancient Chinese poets who felt that scenery of extreme beauty will only be sullied by their words. Indeed, this is such a place of beauty beyond words.
While it is not certain from which angle Master Basho was taking in the view of Matsushima bay from, the best way to enjoy the bay is definitely on a cruise. Various routes around the bay are offered by several operators starting from the pier, ranging from 30 - 50 minutes.
Years of erosion by the waves and wind have created various uniquely-shaped islands. Here are some of the famous ones to look out for:
Taking a bay cruise is the a must when at Matsushima
Said to resemble the Deva King guarding the gate of Buddhist temples
Niojima, said to look like the Deva King
Literally meaning "bell island", this naming comes from the sound of the waves breaking on the island, said to sound like bells ringing.
The sound of waves crashing through this rock is said to resemble bells ringing
Presiding over one of the islands near the pier is a small wooden temple hall called Godaido that enshrines the images of the Five Wise Kings of Japanese Buddhism. The foundation for this was laid in 807, while the actual building was completed in 1604 by the Lord Date Masamune of the Sendai Clan. This is designated as an Important Cultural Heritage. The vermillion bridge connecting the islet to the coast makes is a recommended photo spot, with the contrast of red against a blanket of white in winter being particularly stunning.
Godaido and the vermillion bridge connecting it to the mainland
A must-try when at Matsushima is the oysters, which are cultivated off the Matsushima Bay. Known as the "milk of the ocean", these plump shellfish are eaten raw, or cooked in various ways ? a popular dish is the kaki fry, or fried breaded oysters.
Oysters are a must-try when at Matsushima
2h15min from Tokyo via Sendai Staition (JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line) to Matsushima Kaigan Station by JR Senseki Line.