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Day 5 – North Central Exploration

Today you will travel to Matsushima, a group of about 260 shima, small islands, covered in matsu, pine trees. Along with Miyajima and Amanohashidate, Matsushima Bay is considered one of the most scenic places in Japan. The islands can be viewed from various lookout points, or by taking a local cruise. Please let us know if you wish to take a bay cruise and we will add this to your trip. Godaido temple, located next to Matsushima Pier, is interesting, for its outer walls are decorated with carvings. Zuigan-ji temple is well known for its caves carved into the rock which are used for memorial services. An art museum on Zuigan-ji’s temple grounds displays calligraphy, fusuma paintings, tea cups and portraits. Oshima Island, close to Matsushima Pier, can be reached on foot by crossing a bridge. The island has caves which were used by monks to pray and meditate in. Overlooking Matsushima Bay, Karantei is the largest Momoyama-style tea house in Japan. Originally built in Kyoto, it was moved to Matsushima in 1645. Behind Karantei the Matsushima Museum has tools, armor and weapons on display. The trains from Kakunodate to Matsushima will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes.