There are two ways of accessing the beauty of the Matsushima Islands in Miyagi Prefecture. The first is by taking a cruise boat from Matsushima-Kaigan Station to Shiogama, and the second one is the opposite – from Marine Gate Shiogama towards Matsushima-Kaigan.
From my experience leaving from Marine Gate Shiogama is much better. Marine Gate is a spacious new building with shops selling souvenirs that are hard to find in Sendai, as well as places to eat and, of course, toilets. You can wait for your cruise under a roof which is great when the weather is cool or rainy as if often the case on the coast. In my case, since i was there early, I waited around 50 minutes for my boat but didn’t notice the time at all since I was busy browsing through the souvenirs and chatting with some shop staff.
Since there were only about a dozen passengers, there weren't any problems settling down comfortably by a window and taking photos. Audio announcements were in both Japanese and English. Matsushima is considered to have one of the most picturesque views in Japan and I have to agree that it's true. It’s hard to believe that pine trees can grow on such small islands surrounded by sea water but there are few hundred of these islands, both large and small with intricate shapes. What can I say? The view is just fantastic!
I particularly liked one island named ‘Dragon’ as its shape is almost like a dragon. I was also impressed by a small island without any pines on it called ‘Great Wave’ – it was like the famous picture by the artist Hokusai ‘Under the Great Wave of Kanagawa’. I am sure that nature inspires all artists on this earth!
I highly recommend visiting and seeing the views of Matsushima for yourself. The views are, of course, much better on a clear day and when our boat finally arrived in Matsushima-Kaigan, I noticed that there was a huge line in the opposite direction. A good choice, I think, in heading to rather than from Matsushima-Kaigan. Very lucky, I think, to escape that!