From Hakodate we continued our long journey south, next stop Sendai. Now, we hadn’t really done much research on Sendai and all we knew was that it was large industrial town near the picturesque Matsushima Bay so I don’t know what we were expecting. In the same way that Hakodate was Japan’s answer to San Francisco the city of Sendai was Japan’s answer to Birmingham…
Stepping outside from Nagitake Station we were confronted by a very grey skyline of high rises and warehouses. As Japan’s main commercial centre in the North this city is clearly very important however it lacks the character and charm of other cities and after finding our hostel we hurried back to the station in the hope that Matsushima bay would make up for the anti-climax of arriving in Sendai.
Our first challenge was finding the station, the directions we had were clear and assured us it would only be a 5 minute walk, but this is Yianna and I so allowances must be made. We followed the directions to a T and yet 30 minutes later we were still wandering along residential streets in the backend of Sendai. Eventually we arrived at Higashi-Sendai station and just in time to board the train, once again we had proved ourselves resourceful, practical and essentially incredible travellers…it was the wrong train.
So three trains, 2 hours and god knows how many panics later we arrived in Matsushima Bay and luckily it did not disappoint. This beautiful little town is centred around a series of shrines and piers that jut out into the beautiful bay itself.
As we wandered along the bay towards the harbour we came across a beautiful Shinto shrine that sat perilously atop a rocky outcrop. After crossing a rickety wooden bridge we found the shrine surrounded by tourists and worshippers alike, all enjoying this sacred place in the late afternoon sun.
Although the bay is beautiful the only way to really see Matsushima is from the water, and so we boarded one of the many little tour boats and along with about 20 other tourists ventured out into the waves. Soon the little town was out of site and we were weaving between the hundreds of tiny islands. Each island had a story and many contained shrines and temples to the ancient gods of Japan.
As the sun began to set and the waves picked up we reached the edge of the bay and looked out to the Pacific Ocean. From the edge of the bay it’s magnitude became clear, with hundreds of islands and thousands of waterways it’s no surprise that Matsushima Bay is listed as one of Japan’s most beautiful natural wonders. On our journey back to Matsushima we passed countless villages dotted on the larger islands, each surrounded by hundreds of oyster farms and tiny fishing boats.
By the time we arrived back in town we were starving. The only problem was that Matsushima closes at about 5pm…literally everything from cafes to clothes shops shut tight the moment the sun began to set. With our dinner plans ruined we resorted to finding a tiny hot dog stall on the main road and although it was hardly a Michelin star restaurant we couldn’t complain.
When we eventually got back to our hostel we were exhausted and headed straight to bed. Matsushima Bay had been breathtaking but our brief stay in Sendai had been long enough for us and so we couldn’t wait to get to our next destination.
The next morning we were up early to catch our train to the beautiful country town of Obuse, a far cry from the grey drizzle of Sendai.
See you soon,