Another Side of Matsushima

April 29, 2020

Another Side of Matsushima

Note: this post was re-posted from my old website, originally published in August 2016, but over the years I often paid more visits and added more photos to my collection.

Matsushima, a well-known tourist place in Miyagi prefecture, is famously called one of the three scenic views of Japan (Nihon sankei). Even though it is close to Sendai (only 30 minutes away by train), I had to admit I never had the desire to go there. Back in 2016, whenever I look up about Matsushima, it always shows me pictures of the pine-islets and sunny weather together — almost the same combination, and it did not encourage me to go. But then one day I decided to capture the beauty of Matsushima in a different way. I set out deliberately on a cloudy day, hoping to get dramatic clouds in black and white. And I was satisfied with the results.

It was still sunny when I arrived at Matsushima station. I completely skipped going to Zuiganji, a temple that is said to be a must-see, simply because I did not want to bump into a crowd of people. Guessed I was blessed that day — hardly any tourist flocked the area. So I went straight to Oshima Island to view the bay from the opposite side.

One of the many stone-carved caves in Matsushima.
The red bridge, entrance to Oshima Island.

On this island, I found quite an unobstructed view of the southern part of Matsushima Bay. Several small islands stretch as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately, sometimes sunny weather and sea yield rather boring scenery, so I turned my back and instead set out to see Godaido, the symbol of Matsushima. It was getting super cloudy towards the bay.

Godaigo as viewed from Oshima Island.

Having fully explored Oshima Island, I walked towards Godaido while taking pictures here and there. I could see how tourism is the vein of the town of Matsushima since the pathway along the coast provides a great view of the sea. I suppose it would be great to see the whole bay aboard the various ships ready to take you for short excursions.

A man nonchalantly walks down the pier with a swagger.

The next destination was Fukuura Island. This is a much bigger island connected to the mainland via a long red-fenced bridge. In this famous place, we could walk along the path that is basically circling the whole island. One hour is all it takes to see every corner of the island, but I think you should spend more time to inhale the view slowly. I personally love this place and have visited it several times since this trip.

It was getting dark when I explored the island. The sun has been engulfed by the clouds so pretty much the light has gone away. I stopped here and there along the path, but by the easternmost part of the island lies an observation deck in which I spent the longest. This spot gives the best view of the various small islands around the bay.

My favorite view from the observation deck in Fukuura Island.
A cute lonely tiny islet.

When I decided to leave the island the sun has already set. The once occasionally-dim path was now almost entirely dark. It was hard to believe it was just around 7PM when you could hardly see everything around you under the shadows of the trees. The moment I got out to the island entrance though, I was welcomed by the light-up upon the bridge. These next four photos were probably my favorites of Fukuura Island.

Lovely sunset with long exposure.
View of Fukuura Island bridge from the island shore.
A pier for boats lit with lamps.
I tried to do light painting with a friend, months after my first visit.

At approximately 8PM I decided to call it a day. It was nighttime and there was not much to see anymore in Matsushima. Plus I was starving I could eat a horse. Anyways I found an important lesson in that even though the weather is not favorable for traveling, the idiom ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ rings true in this case. I got some unexpected great shots this time. I would try to go traveling next time even if it is raining, cloudy, or even snowy.

Useful sites: Matsushima Tourism Website (English)

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