Matsushima is believed to be one of the three most beautiful places in Japan. The other two are Amanohashidate in Kyoto Prefecture and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture. Numerous islands and islets dot Matsushima Bay to create a domestically incomparable scene. Basho, hoping to view the bay said that he wanted to see the moon shining on Matsushima when he first started his trek. After his visit however, he was at a loss for words and could not produce any poem, so impressed was he with its overwhelming beauty.
Excursion boats take modern day tourists among the islands with four routes on offer. The course touring the whole of Matsushima Bay takes about 50 minutes and it is fun to see the many flocks of gulls chasing the boat.
Godaido, a temple located on a small island is accessed via a red arched bridge and is famous for its historical atmosphere while Zuiganji, one of the most famous Zen temples of the Tohoku region is a picture postcard of serenity and serves as the temple that houses the Date family grave. Lord Date Masamune had the temple, which is adorned with dynamic Momoyama-style decorations, completed in 4-years and the brilliantly carved decorations of the main building as well as the other buildings have been designated as Japanese national treasures. For lovers of haiku, there is stone tablet inscribed with a haiku written by Sora on Ojima Island.