The city of Sendai doesn’t really offer too much in terms of tourist sights but there are some interesting places within easy reach of it like Zao Fox Village, Funaoka Castle Park and Sendai Daikannon (Daikanmitsuji Temple). Another such place is Matushima Bay so I headed off there on my only full day in the area. Matsushimakaigan Station is just 40 minutes east of Sendai Station and I arrived there mid-morning, collected a map and headed straight to the coast to check out Godaido Temple.
This charming temple is located on an island connected by some bright red foot-bridges. It’s the only thing on the island and there certainly isn’t any room for anything else. The views from the island were good and the wooden temple hall itself looked very nice but the beauty of this sight (other than it being free!) basically is the fact that it’s atop a huge rock jutting out of the sea.
Matsushima Castle Tourist Hotel (below) was just over the road from there and the sight that actually brought Matsushima to my attention. It stands on a small hill in the hotel district but it’s exterior obviously makes it look like a castle town.
The students walking tour of Tokyo back in April further enhanced my rather limited knowledge of Date Masamune but not enough to stump up 1000 yen to enter the Date Masamune Historical Museum. Instead I took a rest break and had a (very) light lunch at a cafe near Fukuurabashi Bridge where I ate kaki jiru (500 yen) and gyutan tsukune (300 yen). Kaki is the Japanese word for oysters and what the area is famed for but I didn’t really feel the need to eat them in a big way as I often eat them when in Hiroshima. No doubt a Japanese person would tell me they’re very different in taste but I remain unconvinced!
I galloped off to Matsushima Station after that as I was planning to head north to Furukawa but just before I arrived at the station I realised that there would be a 50 minute wait at some small station en-route. Instead I headed back towards Matsushimakaigan Station in the hop of finding some caves that were on my map. I’d asked about them at the restaurant but the lady didn’t seem to know so I thought they may not have been that interesting.
When I saw these small rocks by the side of the road I actually thought they might have been them. This was called Miyajima (No, not the UNESCO World Heritage floating torii gate site in Hiroshima prefecture!), an area under water 50-60 thousand years ago, which was naturally eroded by waves. There was a small garden besides a lake just round the corner from there and I actually took a short nap on a bench. These days of non-stop moving about do catch up with you sometimes!
A bit further down the road I was walking in the direction of Yutoku-in Temple when I noticed Zuiganji temple caves (below) out of the corner of my eye. I nearly missed them as I was focused on the right side looking for this temple! I didn’t think twice and sacked off the temple to look at the caves which were originally used for memorial services and as a cinerarium to house the ashes of the deceased.
The making of these caves dates back to the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333) and they continued to use them until the Edo period (1603 – 1867). Sadly it’s not possible to go inside them but I was very glad that I got to see them and I returned to Sendai more than happy with the couple of hours I spent in Matsushima.
Click here to read ‘A Big Buddha, A Capsule Hotel, A Strange Shop Name & The Sendai Hub Trilogy’