Day 18 & 19: Matsushima Mischief

I won’t pretend I wasn’t glad to be speeding away from Nikko. After a polite chat over breakfast with some British expats who were visiting from Yokohama (I seethed with jealousy over my green tea) I made my way to Sendai. At this point in the trip I had decided firmly Japan is the first country outside of England I would be very happy to live in. The flaws I saw, and am aware of through the vid I posted here, can largely be overlooked. I’m not politically active anyway, and I quite like being looked at as an outsider. I am ginger after all. The seasons are a full mix, and I could move around to escape the extremes of summer (move to Hokkaido) and winter (move to Cape Sata), spending spring and autumn in Tokyo. Sigh.

Let’s look at some cool packaging.

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I spent a full day in Sendai, none of which I have recorded. Apart from a local delicacy: gyutan (beef tongue). Offally good! Har har.

beef tongue

There are a lot of places to choose from to get your tongue on tongue – Sendai is a buzzy city, with wonderfully packed streets (many with roofs – take that rain!) efficiently laid out. I went to Sendai City Museum, which wasn’t that thrilling. Tip: don’t bother with audio guides if you have to pay for them. Rarely do you get any info that isn’t already on a caption in Engrish. Next was the Miyagi Museum of Art, which was more impressive. There was a lot of bronze sculpture from a local artist, and plenty of greats from westerners. There were some earl Picasso drawings that knocked me out.Well worth ¥300.

The next day the sun was out again and my spirits rose dramatically. Off to an island! Well, Matsushima Bay, the ‘must see’ in the Tohoku region. You may realise this was the region the 2011 tsunami chose to devastate. Sendai and Matsushima weren’t very badly damaged, and while I didn’t notice any affected areas in the city, I did see some rebuilding work going on on the island. For example, there are a few little off-shoot islands from the main one, but Oshima island is no longer accessible to tourists because the bridge is still under construction.

However, some are stand ing strong. God I love a good Japanese bridge.

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On the way to Zuiganji Temple, from which the town takes its name, there are some amazing caves that line a path.

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The temple itself isn’t much to write home blog about, but there is the wonderfully gaudy shrine at the exit.

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And these guys! The best Nio kings I found.

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You lookin’ at me bitch!?

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Nu-uh gir-frieeend!

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Temple kitty

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I like to think these guys come alive at night

When I returned to Sendai I went on quite a mission to check off every single temple or shrine marked on my map. I saw many. Tiny, deserted, always up an obscene number of stairs. Always worth it; the most peaceful places I’ve ever known. As impressive as many of the tourist-temples are, I’d say it’s well worth going a bit further to find a smaller, more secluded one.

I also got a shot of this guy, hanging out in a park.

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