Jun 20, 2017

Free Fun in Matsushima: Oshima Island and the Beach

    If you're looking for a beautiful place to visit in Miyagi and spend nothing but the cost of transit, look no further than Oshima Island in Matsushima Bay.

    While there are a few fun and free things to do around Matsushima, including visiting Godaido Shrine and walking through the new landscape taking shape in the forest in front of Zuiganji Temple, Oshima is the closest free tourist site/attraction to Matsushima Kaigan Station (410 yen, 38 minutes from Sendai).

    Currently, the path to the island is a little strange as construction around the park across the street from the station is still taking place. Also, the Matsushima aquarium, a decades-old landmark, was torn down a few years ago as it relocated to Sendai and left a strangely unoccupied lot in its place. To get to Oshima, you have to cross by this vacant lot and take a short, narrow side-road toward the parking lot that used to belong to the now non-existent aquarium.

In the foreground, landscaping and paving your way to the beach. A little further back, the vast parking lot. To the distant left, the restroom building.

    As you get closer, the path grows into a nicely paved walkway, leading to a beach on the right and Oshima on the left. There is a small, picturesque red bridge connected Oshima to the mainland, and unlike the toll bridge the Fukuurajima, this one is short, unmanned and free. The island itself is pretty small but offers an interesting view and a nice quiet place for reflection on slow, off-season days. If you feel the call of nature, you can make use of the small building on the far side of the parking lot that houses public toilets and that includes a changing table as well as a handicapped stall. Getting to the bridge does involve walking up a few stairs, so those with strollers or other mobility issues may have a hard time accessing the space.

    Yep. Stairs before the bridge, but if you had a stroller and a bike lock, you could make use of the railing.

The view, after the stairs.

The island itself has a few small stone benches (the massive rectangle on the left) in scenic spots for visitors who want to stop and reflect.
    There is a railing around the island to keep everyone safe, but it is also of course best to not leave small children unsupervised regardless. There is only really one path around the little island but there are also small caves carved into the rock in some places. The caves themselves are not deep enough to get lost in but do make for a fantastic adventure for some visitors, despite their original purpose as places of solitude and private prayer and reflection for the buddhist monks of the area.

    If your exploration of Oshima does not provide enough ocean viewing for you, a nice walk around the beach may be right up your alley. The beach itself isn't so much of a tourist beach and is not maintained to those standards, but can still be a good time. It is part of 松島海浜公園 Matsushima kaihin kōen, which bars barbecues, swimming, and fires of any kind, according to the signs posted in Japanese and English along the coast. Unfortunately, the elements washed out the colorful lettering on "prohibited" which can now only be seen upon very close inspection.

Still, if you're only looking for a place to put your feet in the water, write in the sand or hunt for seashells, this can be a great place to explore. Remember to keep a close eye on the kids though, as the ocean washes up all kinds of things. Most of the stuff is normal sea refuse, like shells and kelp, a few bamboo poles covered in barnacles perhaps, but usually nothing outright dangerous.

Walking wherever this sign used to hang must be even more dangerous now that they have no sign.

Still, it's a great place to explore...

or just take in the sea.

Also, not a bad place for a selfie.
So if you're searching for summer beauty in Miyagi but you're strapped for cash, take a little trip to Oshima!



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.