Discover Wonders. Matsushima Bay: Journey Through 1,000 Years of History

Matsushima Bay: Journey Through 1,000 Years of History

Discover Wonders.

One of the “Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan,” Matsushima Bay has always held tremendous fascination for people.
Matsushima Bay’s most prominent feature is its unparalleled view of some 260 differently sized islands. The abundant seafood, as well as the historical, cultural, and religious treasures that have long been preserved by locals, further add to the area’s appeal.
Visit Matsushima Bay to discover some of Japan’s most breathtaking and timeless scenery.

Scenery

【Beautiful View】Tomiyama(Matsushima Town)

【Beautiful View】Tomiyama(Matsushima Town)

【Gorgeous View】Otakamori(Higashimatsushima City)

【Gorgeous View】Otakamori(Higashimatsushima City)

The islands in Matsushima Bay change their appearance depending on the season, time of day, and point of observation, making them a true wonder of nature.
The four best spots to view the beautiful bay scenery are known collectively as Matsushima Shitaikan. The scenery viewed from each of the four spots has its own name, given by Mannen Funayama, a Confucian living in the Sendai domain during the Edo period: Mysterious View, Beautiful View, Dynamic View, and Gorgeous View. Each spot provides a distinctive scenic view of Matsushima Bay.
Matsushima Bay offers impressive scenery that is sure to leave an imprint on your heart.

【Mysterious View】Ogitani(Matsushima Town)

【Mysterious View】Ogitani(Matsushima Town)

【Dynamic View】Tamonzan(Shichigahama Town)

【Dynamic View】Tamonzan(Shichigahama Town)

History

Photo - History1

Since ancient times, Matsushima Bay has played an integral role in the lives of all who have lived in the area. The many interspersed archaeological remains dating back to the Jomon period (around 14,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.) indicate that the area has long been blessed with a variety of lush natural environments.
During the Nara and Heian periods (A.D. 710 to 794, and 794 to 1185, respectively), the establishment of Tagajo Castle, a provincial government office, enabled the area to flourish as a center of administration, military operations, and culture within the Tohoku region. At that time, the area was well known as a coveted destination among people living in what was then the capital of Japan, and served as a popular theme for poets.
In the Edo period, Date Masamune, a feudal load of the Sendai domain, developed the area. The status of this area has not changed much since then.

The beauty of the moon rising over Matsushima Bay and the view of islands illuminated by moonlight have fascinated not only notable historical figures, including Date Masamune and haiku poet Matsuo Basho, but also countless other travelers.

Photo - History2
Photo - History3

Food

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Blessed with a bountiful marine environment, Matsushima Bay delivers up impressive catches of a wide variety of seafood.
Specially selected fresh bigeye tuna called “Sanriku Shiogame Higashimono” is an excellent product highly rated by fish brokers. Oysters and edible seaweed are other typical local delicacies. Sushi made using seasonal fresh fish is extremely popular.
In addition, the area is also blessed with fertile soil and lavish agricultural produce. Asian pears with a sweet, rich flavor called “Rifu Nashi” and products made using wild rice produced in Tagajo City are not to be missed.
Enjoy all the specialties derived from the rich natural environment of the Matsushima Bay area.

Rediscover! Matsushima Wonderland

Japan is proud to showcase Matsushima Bay to the world. Characterized by beautiful scenery that has earned it the title of one of the “Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan,” abundant seafood, and a long history, the area has much to offer. In December 2013, Matsushima Bay became the first bay in Japan to be inducted into the Most Beautiful Bays in the World, giving it a new international title. With this providing an impetus, the three cities and three towns around Matsushima Bay have been working with Miyagi Prefecture to promote the “Rediscover! Matsushima Wonderland” campaign. This campaign will provide people with opportunities to be amazed, discover something new, experience stirring encounters, and rediscover the variety of the bay area’s attractions. Its aim is to broadly publicize the appeal of Matsushima Bay both in and outside Japan.

A first for Japan! Counted among the Most Beautiful Bays in the World

The Most Beautiful Bays in the World was established in 1997 to revitalize local tourism, protect the global environment, and preserve tourism resources. Its members are bays that are renowned worldwide for their beauty, including Mont Saint-Michel Bay, Ha Long Bay, and other World Heritage Sites. Matsushima Bay became the first bay in Japan to be inducted.

Shiogama City

Shiogama City

Shiogama City has long flourished as both the home of Shiogama Jinja, one of the top shrines in the region, and as one of the most famous port towns in Japan.
Shiogama City also holds tremendous appeal for food-lovers, with an array of sushi restaurants serving dishes made with fresh seafood. Local specialties, including local sake, bamboo-leaf-shaped fish cake, and sweets made with moshio seaweed-derived salt, are recommended. Shiogama City has long been known as a gateway to the Matsushima tour. The nearby Urato Islands, the only populated remote islands in Matsushima Bay, are famous tourist destinations that attract many visitors seeking an escape from their daily routine. The islands offer different attractions throughout the year, such as field mustard flowers in spring and sea bathing in summer.

Tagajo City

Tagajo City

The remains of Tagajo Castle, which have been designated as a Special Historic Site, are one of Japan’s three most notable historical sites, along with Heijo Palace (Nara Prefecture) and the remains of Dazaifu (Fukuoka Prefecture). The remains of Tagajo Castle make up one fourth of the total area of the city.
About 1,300 years ago, Tagajo Castle served as a center of administration and military operations in the Tohoku region. Furthermore, the Castle also functioned as a center of culture. Even today, there are many cultural facilities in Tagajo City, including the Tohoku History Museum and the Tagajo City Library, which opened in March 2016 as a center of knowledge for citizens. Tagajo City aims to be the most prominent cultural hub in Tohoku.

Higashimatsushima City

Higashimatsushima City

Known as “Oku-Matsushima,” Higashimatsushima is a scenic seaside city with a long history stretching back to the Jomon period (around 14,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.). A popular tourist destination, the city fascinates visitors with its many tourist attractions, including one of the best panoramic views of Matsushima Bay, Otakamori, and one of Japan’s three gorges, Sagakei Gorge. It is also known for its excellent seafood, such as the oysters and edible seaweed grown in its nutrient-rich offshore waters. In addition, the Matsushima Air Base, home of “Blue Impulse,” the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s aerobatics team, is also located in Higashimatsushima City. Air shows and skywriting art are daily entertainments.

Matsushima Town

Matsushima Town

The scenery in Matsushima is so good that the area has been called one of the “Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan,” making it an iconic symbol of the Japanese aesthetic. Matsuo Basho, a haiku poet famous for his poem-filled travelogue, Oku no Hosomichi, called the scenery “the very best view in Japan.”
Boasting some of the best views in the Tohoku region, Matsushima has long been a popular topic of poems, dating back to around the end of the 7th century, when Japan’s oldest existing poetry collection, Man’yoshu, was compiled. In addition to scenery that changes its appearance depending on season, the town is characterized by many historic buildings associated with the Date clan (a famous samurai kin group).

Shichigahama Town

Shichigahama Town

Shichigahama Town is located east of Sendai City, putting it almost at the center of Miyagi Prefecture. It is the smallest town both in Hokkaido and in the Tohoku region. The north of the town borders Matsushima Bay, while the east and south front onto the Pacific Ocean. The west of the town is adjacent to Shiogama City, Tagajo City, and Sendai City. Shichigahama Town boasts a thriving fishing industry, with local specialties including fresh edible seaweed, abalone, sea urchin, righteye flounder, and sea raven. In summer, sea bathing, marine sports, and motor paragliding can be enjoyed at the Shobuta swimming beach.

Rifu Town

Rifu Town

Nature is flourishing across the area ranging from Mt. Bangamori located in the northeast of the town to the Matsushima Bay side. A little-known tourist attraction, the lookout tower at the top of Mt. Bangamori provides a panoramic view of the scenic Matsushima islands. Another tourist spot is “Umanose,” a narrow natural jetty extending into Matsushima Bay. Looking out from this spot, it feels as if you have the entire bay all to yourself. Rifu Town is also famous for its production of a type of Asian pear called “Rifu Nashi,” so much so that the term “Rifu Nashi” is almost synonymous with the town. Rifu Town looks forward to welcoming you with cordial hospitality.

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