Matsushima is a group of islands in central Miyagi prefecture (which is in Tohoku area, the northern region of Japan) with beautiful sceneries where the famous Japanese poet Basho Matsuo loved. There are some 260 tiny islands with Japanese pine trees, creating very Japanese like sceneries that you will never want to miss. As Matsushima is selected as one of the Three View of Japan, it has visitors all year around. Matsushima has got tons of attractions that you will never get bored to spend a day in Matsushima area.

1. The famous view from Godaido

Located in the middle of sightseeing area of Matsushima, the view from the Godaido temple is one of the most famous views of Matsushima bay. Almost all of the tourists who come to Matsushima go to this spot to take pictures and enjoy the view of Matsushima.

You will have to cross this bridge to get to Godaido

You will have to cross this bridge to get to Godaido

The bridge has spaces between the plates. This forces us to take a breath and walk carefully, leaving the sins and desires behind before visiting the Godaido temple.

From the fairly small Godaido, you will be able to reach this view! How beautiful this is.

The view is astonishing

The view is astonishing

Address:
Chonai Matsushima Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi-ken

Access:
7 min walk from Matsushima Kaigan station

Fees:
Free

Hours:
Closed on evenings

2. Watch and listen to the sounds of seagulls

The seagulls are one of the well-known icons of Matsushima. They gather around Matsushima bay sightseeing area and cries out loud. But watch out! They always aim at getting a bite of your food!

Seagulls flying all over the place

Seagulls flying all over the place

3. Get on the sightseeing ferry and cruise around the islands of Matsushima

There are 260 tiny islands in Matsushima bay, thus, it is impossible to see all of them from the land. How do people see the rest of islands? Well, there are sightseeing ferries that go around Matsushima bay with audio commentary explaining about each island usually in both Japanese and English. There are various courses from round-trip to one way trip to the other side, Shiogama, so check out at the ticket stand which course you would want. The cruises last about 20-50 mins, and cost between 1,000 to 1,500 yen.

Get on one of these ferries

Get on one of these ferries

The view from the ferry

The view from the ferry

4. Zuiganji Temple (national treasure and important cultural property)

Zuiganji is a traditional temple built in the 6th century that well represents the essence of the Momoyama era. Such as hinged doors and ranma along with the beautiful paintings on the fusuma doors and tokonoma. Zuigaji is protected as the national treasure and important cultural property of Japan. Pay attention to the beauty of the architecture and the beautiful sando (path to the temple) with numerous stone Buddha.

Zuiganji Temple main building

Zuiganji Temple main building. From Flickr

Beautiful reliefs of Zuiganji Temple

Beautiful reliefs of Zuiganji Temple. From Flickr

Stone Buddha

Stone Buddha

Address:
Chonai-91 Matsushima Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi-ken

Access:
5 min walk from Matsushima Kaigan station

Fees:
Adult 700yen, Children 400yen

Hours:
January 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
February 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
March 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
April-September 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
October 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
November 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
December 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
*Last entry is 30 minute before closing

5. The beautiful garden of Entsuin Temple

Entsuin is located just right next to Zuiganji Temple. Not only the zen garden that is beautiful but the western influenced design of paintings on Sankaiden and the cemetery with rose garden are very interesting. Entsuin is most beautiful in fall when the leaves are colored. Entsuin holds Buddhist prayer beads workshops (¥1,000 ~) if you are interested.

Japanese zen style garden near the entrance

Japanese zen style garden near the entrance

Beautiful with colored leaves

Beautiful with colored leaves. From Wikipedia

Address:
Chonai-67 Matsushima Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi-ken

Access:
5 min walk from Matsushima Kaigan station

Fees:
Adult 300yen, High school students 150yen, Children 100yen

Hours:
April-November 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
December-March 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
*Last entry is 30 minute before closing

6. Fresh seafood from the bay for lunch

For lunch, you should definitely try fresh seafood from the bay. Especially oysters are the speciality of Matsushima. However, it is available only during winter. If you are here in winter, you should definitely try raw and yaki (grilled) oysters!

Fresh raw (left) and yaki (right) oysters.

Fresh raw (left) and yaki (right) oysters.

Anago (conger eel) from Matsushima is also famous. You will be able to encounter huge anago that you had never seen.

Anago and rice set menu

Anago and rice set menu. From Instagram

7. Cross the red bridge to Fukuura island

You will notice the bright red bridge that connects to one of the islands of Matsushima. Yes, you can walk and cross this bridge! With 200 yen, cross the bridge to the island called “Fukuura island”. You can walk around the island and get another view of Matsushima island.

The bridge to Fukuura island

The bridge to Fukuura island

Walk along the trees

Walk along the trees

There is also a small beach

There is also a small beach

8. Coffee break with the view at Shokado cafe

When you get tired, there is a nice cafe to enjoy a cup of coffee with the view of Matsushima. Having 1st floor as a souvenir shop with Japanese styled goods, 2nd floor is a cafe with pleasant views of Matsushima bay. It’s located along the street of sightseeing areas so no hard to notice the place. Shokado is running the business from the time Matsushima got developed as a sightseeing spot, over 100 years! Castella is their speciality and it is very delicious, using only natural ingredients and freshly baked in the oven of the cafe.

The famous castella of Shokado

The famous castella of Shokado

Have a break with beautiful view of Matsushima

Have a break with beautiful view of Matsushima

Address:
Chonai-109 Matsushima Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi-ken

Access:
6 min walk from Matsushima Kaigan station

Hours:
Mon, Wed-Fri 11:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Sat, Sun & Holidays 10:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays

How to get to Matsushima

From Tokyo, 1.5 hours to Sendai Station from Tokyo station by Tohoku Shinkansen. Approximately 40 minutes from Sendai station to Matsushima Kaigan station on the JR Senseki Line. You will easily find signs to the famous sightseeing Matsushima bay area from Matsushima Kaigan station.

For more information

Sightseeing & Food in Tohoku You Shouldn’t Miss

Matsushima Tourism Association website

Three Views of Japan