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Goin’ Japanesque!

Nihon Sankei: Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan in Comparison to Ukiyo-e

Today, we have an article about the Nihon Sankei, the most scenic spots of Japan. These places have captured the hearts of Japanese people and also have been depicted in the Ukiyo-e of Utagawa Hiroshige. This article juxtaposes the ukiyo-e and the modern day photos to see the comparison. Photo:


What is the Nihon Sankei


The Nihon Sankei, or the Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan refer to the three locations, Matsushima, Amanohashidate and Miyajima. It has been a yearned for travel destination for Japanese since long ago and can be said to be the origins of travelling. The reason these three sites came to be recognized originates in the writings of Confucian scholar, Hayashi Gaho. In his writings, “Nihon-koku Jisekikou (Review of Things about Japan)” he wrote that these sites had the most amazing view. There have been poetry, artwork and other historical documents siting these places and praising their extraordinary view.


1. Matsushima



歌川広重 『六十余州名所図会 陸奥 松島富山眺望之略図』

Matsushima, which is located in Miyagi Prefecture, is the collective name for an archipelago of 260 islands of varying sizes. It is a famous scenic place of Japan said to have been favored and visited by military commander Date Masamune and poet Matsuo Basho. Date Masamune was a feudal lord of the Sendai Clan who was powerful in the area of the current Tohoku Region. The moon in Matsushima is particularly famous for its beauty.

Because of the astonishing view, it is said that Matsuo Basho was at a loss of words. There is a funny story that says that he made a poem that was filled with the word Matsushima: “Matsushima, Ah Matsushima, Matsushima”. In fact this poem was not written by Matsuo Basho but a different person but in any case, it seems to be true that the poet could not think of appropriate words to put in a poem. It’s an anecdote that tells that the scenery here is that amazing and impressive.

See more in detail: Matsushima, 1 of Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan and its 8 Sightseeing Highlights


2. Amanohashidate



歌川広重 『六十余州名所図会 丹後 天の橋立』

Amanohashidate is a sand bar in Kyoto Prefecture. It is 3.6 km long and 20 to 170 meters wide. In the sand there grows about 8,000 pine trees and the name implies that it looks like a bridge that reaches into the skies. In fact this sandbar was formed naturally over a course of several thousand years. It is a destination many tourists visit just to see the mystical formation.

The view can be enjoyed from the four different directions, North, East, South and West, and each of the views is given a name. You can read about this in more detail in a separate article. It is interesting to compare the differences of the four different views. You can also enjoy feeling at one with nature by walking through the woods in Amanohashidate, taking a bike or boat ride, swim at the beach, etc. There are many ways to have fun depending on what you desire.

See more in detail: Amanohashidate, 1 of Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan and its 8 Sightseeing Highlights


3. Miyajima



歌川広重 『六十余州名所図会 安藝 巌島祭礼之図』

Miyajima (official name is Itsukushima) is located in Hiroshima Prefecture. Due to the location being the only one out of the 3 that is registered as a world heritage site, it may perhaps be the most famous to visitors from overseas. Itsukushima Jinja shrine’s large torii on water is a sightseeing highlight. You may have seen it in pamphlets, on-line or in some other media. The Miyakojima on-water fireworks festival that is held every summer is also a huge event visited by a lot of people.

See more in detail: The Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan—Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine


How do they look compared to the Ukiyo-e? Though we may live in different times, we are all human. We felt that even though the times have changed, certain basic things feel beautiful to all of us.  

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