Matsushima Bay is the inner part of Sendai Bay, immediately south of the Ojika Peninsula on the east coast of Honshu. The name means, "island of pines", referring to the pine covered rocky islands and islets, more than 260 in number, which give this area its special character. The scenery of the region, diversified by its varied rock formations and the bizarrely shaped trees, which grow in its scanty soil, has long been renowned throughout Japan.
Founded in 828, Zuiganji Temple later became a center of the Rinzai sect (Myoshinji school). On either side of the avenue are caves, used by the monks as places for meditation. In one of the larger caves Abbot Hosshin, who studied the new teachings in China, is said to have meditated after his return. The present buildings were erected by Date Masamune in 1609. Particularly notable are the Middle Gate (Haka-mon), the Imperial Gate (Onari-mon), the living apartments (Kuri), the gallery (Kairo) and the Main Hall (Hondo), with sliding doors painted by artists of the Kano school. In the interesting Peacock Room is a wooden statue of Date Masamune, known as the "one-eyed Shogun" (dokuganryu Shogun), in full armor. There is also an interesting statue of Makabe Heishiro (the secular name of Abbot Hosshin).
Seaview Pavilion (Kanran-tei) is a modest late 16th C teahouse on a rock beside the pier. Originally part of Fushimi Castle, it was presented by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to his vassal Date Masamune (1567-1636). The sliding doors in the interior were painted by Kano Sanraku (1559-1635), a leading representative of the Momoyama style. As its name indicates, the pavilion has a beautiful view of the bay. In the garden is a small museum with mementos of the Date family, which for some time during the medieval period was the most powerful princely family in northeastern Japan.
More Matsushima Bay Pictures