Matsushima – Beautiful Islands that Stopped a Tsunami

“It is a place of longing that everyone wants to visit once and see, it is the origin of the hearts of Japanese trips that attract people without changing the world.”

– Translated from Nihonsankei.jp

Matsushima, Amanohashidate, Miyajima. The Nihon Sankei.

Or in English; the Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan.

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I have been to all three now. Matsushima was the last on my bucket list, however no less beautiful than Amanohashidate and Miyajima.

Matsushima is a fairly quiet area with a population of 14,733, and the town thrives on tourists coming to visit to see the unusual pine-clad islands dotted around this c-shaped bay… and to eat Mussels.

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The Islands support a dense shellfish ecosystem and during the day you can see many people at the shores and boats anchored in the bay collecting mussels.

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A well-worth-visiting place for locals here is the fish market. They sell live mussels, fish, crabs and a variety of packaged, frozen and dried produce. Including Whale Bacon.

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All You Can Eat Mussels Fish Market Restaurant

Opposite the Fish Market is an tabehoudai mussels restaurant where you pay 2500¥ for 45 minutes, and you get buckets of boiled mussels (high volumes of raw mussels can make you ill) in front of you, with a oyster soup, fried rice and pickles.

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Fukuurajima Bridge

Despite being celebrated on many tourism websites as a must-see in Japan, many of the local businesses here have closed down due to the drop in tourists following the devastating tsunami hitting Sanriku’s coastline in 2011.

The tsunami reached from 3m (9.8ft) high to 6m (20ft) high in Miyagi. It drowned and destroyed towns and cities in a total area of 561km² (217 sq mi), around the size of Guam.

Matsushima’s islands took a severe beating and many were significantly damaged, but they saved the town from complete destruction by acting as a natural sea defence.

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Locals said the waves still came over the port a little and flooded their houses and businesses, but they said that they were luckier than others, due to the islands deflecting the tsunami on to neighbouring towns with more force.

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Sakura still blooming in late April

I do recommend you still visit Matsushima and support the locals here as the place is still as beautiful as it has ever been.

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Musubimaru, Miyagi Prefecture’s Mascot

They are preparing for the Olympics coming up so I got to see these cute guys dotted around too. It’s an onigiri-samurai mascot for the region called Musubimaru and he is present in Sendai, Matsushima and all over Miyagi Prefecture.

Traveller’s Tips

All-You-Can-Eat Mussels at the Fish Market

2000¥ for 45 minutes of Mussels.

2500¥ for 45 minutes of Mussels and Extras (soup, rice, etc.).

Open from 8:30 – 15:00.

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Fukuurajima Island Bridge

Entry Fee 200¥, free after 5pm.

Approx 45 minute walk around Fukuurajima Island.

Japanese superstition states that couples who visit this island together will separate… beware! 😉 

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