Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Destination - Matsushima!

I could have titled this post "Mike & Emi's big spring vacation" because that's what it was. It started with us taking the bullet train from Tokyo to Sendai city and then from there we rode the local train to Matsushima. Matsushima is a famous coastal town in Miyagi prefecture. It's biggest attraction is the 260 tiny islands and everyone takes a boat cruise to see them; we did. The Sun light was so harsh and the sky so hazy I felt that none of my pictures were worthy of posting. However, after the cruise we visited the nearby cultural properties and they were great!

First stop - Entsuin Temple

Entsuin Temple is famous for its rock and moss gardens. The moss is like a beautiful green carpet.

Emi pays her respects at the temple.

Walking through the garden one cannot help but be impressed with the carved out solid rock hillside.

Walking amongst the trees is the most peaceful feeling one can experience.

Prayer dolls?

Perhaps they are, either way I thought they made a nice picture.

Next up, Zuiganji Temple.

The view from the rear of the temple. Since we are so far north the cherry blossoms are still in bloom.
By-the-way, photography is prohibited inside the temple.

A view of the outside of the temple.

And, now we visit Godaido Temple. The sunshine is still quit harsh.

This visitor has the right idea to protect herself from the  harmful UVs.

This is the famous bridge that leads to the temple. Man, what a trip hazard. The myth is that if one trips and falls crossing the bridge they're not ready to visit the temple. I guess they will be ready to visit the doctor!

Moving on - this is the 252 meter long Fukuurabashi bridge that leads to Fukuurajima island.

It costs 200 yen to cross the bridge. The island is a park with easy walking paths and nice views of the surrounding islands. We went, we saw, we left!

After leaving the island we checked into our beautiful onsen resort Inn where we had a fantastic evening soaking in the hot bath and later gorging on local seafood. This is the view from our room's window. A nice outdoor patio made from old wood train track ties. 0600 in the morning and already the the sun light is glaring in on us.

Day two:  We took the local train to Shiogama city to visit the Shiogama Shrine!

Per the Shiogama website:
Shiogama Shrine, a National Treasure and Important Cultural Property, is one of the highest Shinto shrines in northern Japan, dating from the 800s. In the spring the shrine grounds are transformed by many different types of beautiful cherry blossoms including the Shiogama-zakura pink flowers that are designated as a national monument. 

There are two ways to get to the shrine (1) a gentle slope (2) a long very steep set of stone steps.
We opted for the gentle slope. Everything is made of stone.

We have arrived at the shrine.

The website was right, there are a lot of cherry blossoms here. Even though the peak is over they are still beautiful to view.

Another sunny day in paradise. Off to the right side of this shrine is a magnificent cherry tree in full bloom.

Check it out!

It wouldn't be a shrine with out the wood prayer boards.

And, there are a lot of them!

This lantern must look great when illuminated at night.

 More places to ring the bell and say a prayer.

Here's how it's done:
1. Toss a coin in the box and ring the bell
2. Bow twice
3. Clap your hands twice
4. With your hands still together pray; express the feelings in your mind without talking (yes, keep your thoughts to yourself).
5. Bow once

How to video - it's fun

Fellow visitors.

A huge ceder tree.

Everyone has a camera. Surprisingly to me, the majority of the visitors on this day were from China.

We may have entered the shrine grounds using the gentle upward slope but the way out for us was the steep stone steps!

Looking back at the entrance and the stone steps.

On the way back to the train station we stopped by this charming restaurant for a cup of coffee.

Next week: Part two of Mike & Emi's big spring vacation; Destination - Naruko Onsen!

Thanks for stopping by!

Bonus shots!
These images were taken with a Sigma Sd Quattro H camera and Sigma 35mm lens.

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