From Oirase, we headed by bus to Hachinohe, and then took the bullet train down to Sendai. We didn’t realize it was the last day of the Tanabata Festival in Sendai and headed straight to Matsushima, a 30 minute train ride from Sendai. The train from Sendai to Matsushima is painted with manga characters created by Ishinomori (Cyborg 009, Kamen Rider, Kidaider, Robocon), whose hometown and museum is nearby.
As this was the weekend before the Obon holidays, lot of sightseers where headed to Matsushima. Obon is a holiday to commemorate departed ancestors, and is essentially summer vacation for most Japanese, since its still uncomfortable for most Japanese to take a personal vacation day – its not unusal to meet someone who hasn’t taken a personal vacation day for 10 or 20 year, the concept of work-life balance is nonexistent. Most people get Wednsday thru Friday off, plus the weekend and visit their ancestorial home for a family reunion, which usually means away from Tokyo.
Matsushima was pleasant. It’s known for its near 300 islands covered with pine (matsu – shima means island).
Matsushima is also the site of Zuiganji, a zen temple that was rebuilt in the early 1600s. Zuiganji, will be deconstructed and reconstructed over 10 years to make it more earthquake resistant starting in the next couple of years.