Overlooking the waters of Matsushima Bay, Matsushima encompasses hundreds of forested islands off the city’s coastline. It’s home to stunning temples and the mausoleum of Date Mitsumune, as well as stunning viewpoints of the island-dotted bay.
Things to do
Visit the grand Zen temple of Zuigan-ji, famed for its Kuri kitchen and magnificent gilded sliding doors. Originally founded in 828 AD, it was rebuilt by Date Masamune in 1609 and is reached along a cedar-lined pathway to the Zuigan-ji Art Museum where treasures from the temple are exhibited.
Don’t miss the nearby Entsūin Temple, which is surrounded by rose, moss and rock gardens showcasing stunning autumn foliage. It was founded in the 17th century as a memorial temple for Date Mitsumune, with his mausoleum beautifully decorated with hearts, diamonds, clubs and roses.
Follow one of the many walking trails crisscrossing the pine-forested island of Fukuura, which is connected to the mainland by a long bridge. Legend states that you will meet the love of your life while crossing this bridge, while stunning coastal views await on the island.
For sweeping panoramas of Matsushima Bay, make the one-kilometre-long walk to the top of Ōtakamori, a hill in the middle of the Oku-Matsushima peninsula. It’s a particularly popular destination to watch the sun set as it slowly sinks below the horizon of Honshu.
Sendai Airport is around one hour by train from Matsushima, while Tokyo can be reached in around three hours. Buses and trains travel throughout Matsushima and ferries connect to the city’s offshore islands.
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