Zuiganji Temple Caves
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If You're There Anyway....
The Zuiganji Temple Caves were probably once truly amazing, the details of the tiny statues lit with shadows in their cave dwellings. Since then, the statuary has mostly been carved out. Some of the pieces now stand in front of the caves, many details lost to unsavory weather conditions. Others were presumably sent to museums elsewhere in Japan.
These caves and their carvings used to be a fun accent to the natural beauty of the rich forest area that led up to Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima. Unfortunately, many of the massive, fantastic trees began dying off and the threat of an incredibly tall tree with root rot taking down its friends as it falls before crushing nearby homes was too great for the town. As of fall 2016, the forest is almost gone, the trees leveled and chopped, leaving the mostly empty caves as a sad reminder of the vacancy that once was something truly magnificent.
That said, if you're in the area and headed toward Zuiganji or Entsuiin, you might as well check out the caves. They are free after all, and the statues are pretty interesting to look at.