Matsushima, 1 of Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan and its 8 Sightseeing Highlights
In this article, we introduce the highlights of one of Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan, Matsushima. It also happens to be a 3 Michelin star location. Here’s a list of all the places we would love for you to visit. Photo: https://www.flickr.com
1. Matsushima Shi Daikan (Four Great Views of Matsushima)
Sokan/Otakamori (壮観・大高森), https://ja.wikipedia.org
Matsushima has many scenic spots, but there are 4 points scattered to the North, East, South and West. Each location has a name and offers a distinctive and beautiful view. The names of the locations are “Sokan/Otakamori (壮観・大高森)”, “Reikan/Tomiyama (麗観・富山」)”, “Ikan/Tamonzan (偉観・多聞山)” “Yukan/Ogidani (幽観・扇谷)”.
2. Zuigan-ji Temple
The Zuigan-ji Temple, which was built in the Heian Period (794 – 1185/1192) is designated as a national treasure. The current building is one that has been rebuilt during 1604 to 1609 under the direction of the military commander Date Masamune. 130 craftsmen were gathered for this task.
Statue of Date Masamune in Armor, http://www.zuiganji.or.jp/
The treasure museum has many artifacts of historical importance and so we feel it is a must-see spot.
*The main hall cannot be viewed at this time because it is under construction until around March 2018.
3. Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park
It is a great scenic spot that overlooks the Matsushima bay from high ground. It is also known for its cherry blossoms with over 260 cherry trees. The contrasting color of the blue from the sea and sky, the green of Matsuhima and the pink of the cherry blossoms are quite extraordinary.
4. Entsuin Temple
Built in 1647, the temple offers deeper knowledge on the history of the Date family. It is very close to the Zuigan-ji. The Entsuin is particularly recommended for visit around the time of the fall foliage. It is also famous for its beauty when it is lit up.
Here you can also experience making juzu or rosary beads. Your spirits will be purified as you tie the beads one by one. It would be a nice souvenir to take home.
5. Openwork Bridge of the Godaido
Enmusubi Bashi (The Bridge of Matchmaking), 五大堂の透かし橋
The Godaido, which was built in 807 is a symbolic temple of Matsushima. The existing building is what was rebuilt by Date Masamune in 1604. It is called the Godaido (Godai Hall) because the statue of the Godai Myo-o (Five Wise Kings) rests here. In order to get to the Godaido that you see up ahead, you must cross over the Sukashi-bashi bridge, which is one of the 3 vermillion colored bridges in Matsushima. The name Sukashi-bashi does not mean that it is see through, as the word sukashi may lead you to imagine. It is called so because the gaps in the openwork are so large that you can see the sea below. Also, because couples tend to end up holding their hands here, it is known by another name, Enmusubi no hashi (the bridge of matchmaking).
6. Fukuura-bashi Bridge of Fukuura-jima Island
Deai Bashi (The Bridge of Meeting), 福浦島の福浦橋
The Fukuura-jima Island is a Prefectural owned Natural Botanical Garden. It is about 6 hectares filled with nature and rich in plants. In order to get to the Fukuura-jima Island, you must take the Fukuura-bashi Bridge, the second vermillion colored bridge. The bridge is 252 meters in length. Another name for it is Deai bashi, the bridge of meeting. It is said that if you cross over this bridge, you will be blessed with a chance meeting.
7. Togetsu-kyo Bridge of Oshima Island
Enkiri Bashi (Bridge of Breaking Relationships), 雄島の渡月橋
In the past, Oshima is said to have had 108 grottoes. Now the number has diminished to 50. In order to get to this Oshima, you must cross the 3rd vermillion colored bridge, Togetsu-kyo Bridge. It sure would be lovely to take a stroll under the moonlight. The Togetsu-kyo has another name Enkiri Bashi meaning the bridge of breaking relationships and thus people who want to break off bad relationships visit this location.
Were you able to see the 3 vermillion colored bridges in Matsushima and the different superstitions surrounding them?
8. Matsushima Bay Sightseeing Cruise
Lastly, the one thing you don’t want to miss during your sightseeing in Matsushima is this 50 minute sightseeing boat cruise that stops by islands large and small. Black-tailed gulls and seagulls this close! We invite you to see the view that can only be seen from the cruise ship.
Matsushima, the very beautiful and scenic location that represents Japan; it may make you want to express it in a poem even if you are no great poet like Matsuo Basho.