Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 8. Matsushima

The breakfast at Hotel Mayflower was fairly basic but nice enough. You could fill yourself up on as many rolls, boiled eggs and orange slices as you wanted. The same applied for hot drinks and orange juice.

Today we were in a real dilemma, we couldn't decide whether we should visit Matsushima or Yamadera. It was a tough decision as Matsushima was described as being  so beautiful it had been designated one of three most scenic sights in Japan. The other option was Yamadera where we could climb 1000 steps to a temple in the mountains where it's said you will gain enlightenment. 

We ended up choosing Matsushima which was about an hour away on the train. My wife sat for the journey whilst I was glued to the window behind the driver.

Matsushima is a group of 260 islands (shima) covered in pines (matsu). Today though we were going to visit three of the islands which were linked to the mainland by red bridges. The first one was where Godaido Hall could be found, a small temple hall with an exterior displaying twelve animals of the lunar calendar. As we crossed the bridge a group of about thirty people on a tour followed us so we didn't hang a round here for very long at all.

Before venturing onto another Island I stopped for a strawberry and condensed milk ice cream costing ¥300 (£2). I suddenly had a flashback of when Lenny Henry used to eat condensed milk sandwiches on Tiswas and shout OK for as long as he possibly could. I resisted the urge to do the same thing but did thoroughly enjoy the ice cream.

The bridge leading out to Fukuura Island was much longer and crossing it cost ¥200 (£1.30)

The island is covered in pines and is a natural botanical garden with a network of pleasant walking trails. 

On the way round we passed a small shop and Benzaiten Temple. 

We'd been dreading it being really busy here but on Fukuura Island it was nice and peaceful. You could stay on the main paths or venture down smaller paths in the hope they led somewhere interesting.

The first path we took lead us to this secluded beach. We had to use a rope to climb down a fairly steep slope but it was well worth it.

Many of the trees on the island could be identified by a sign attached to them. I was most fascinated by the spring that the sign was attached to though, genius!

There's also a large meadow on the island with a tired looking garden in the centre and a pavilion. 

Having fully explored Fukuura Island we made our way back over the long red bridge to check out Matsushima.

This Gabunomi drink by Pokka Sapporo was unusual but very nice indeed, a melon cream soda costing just ¥130 (85P)

Back on the mainland we checked out this pagoda.

Tried some edamame and bean paste.

And enjoyed an edamame smoothie.

The final island we visited was Oshima Island, finding our way to it was a bit trickier though as it's a bit more hidden than the other two islands.

Although fairly small Oshima Island was the most fascinating of the islands.

Carved into the walls were many dug out caves which were once occupied by priests during meditation. 

We quite enjoyed our visit to Matsushima but it didn't blow us away like we'd hoped it would. My wife was tempted but didn't get around to painting a kokeshi doll which you could do in a workshop for ¥800. We decided to travel back to Sendai, wondering all the way back whether visiting Yamadera might have been the better plan.

Back at Sendai station our minds turned to food once again. This looked like good fun but we decided to return to T's Tantan again whilst we still had the opportunity to.

Tonight I tried the Chinese style chicken which was even nicer than last nights meal here.

The AER building was the tallest building in Sendai, but in 2008 the Sendai City Trust Tower stole it's crown. We'd read about a panorama terrace up on the 31st floor of the AER building so we jumped into a lift and made our way to the top floor.

The wide windows give you a perfect view of the city. It was fascinated to watch the shinkansen passing by on the tracks below.

With our time in Sendai almost over we went in search of a bar we'd read about online. We wandered through this huge mall hoping we were going in the right direction.

I tried but as always the loose claws simply let go again.

We'd almost given up looking for Peter Pan Rock Bar but perseverance paid off in the end.

We'd finally found it up some stairs on the second floor.

There was a ¥500 (£3.30) cover charge after 6pm but we were here a good hour before that, we would keep our visit brief.

Peter Pan Rock Bar had a bar at one end with 1000's of records stacked up behind it. Big speakers were at the other end of the room and between it a selection of places to sit. Customers could request a song if they wanted to and the record sleeve of the chosen record would be displayed on the bar.

Music memorabilia was on display throughout the bar.

We ordered some small but delicious almond biscuits from the menu.

We also ordered a slice of cake, quite bland and a bit dry.


This Yebisu premium black had a fairly bitter taste with a hint of caramel. We drunk up before the cover charge kicked in and chatted with the owner on the way out. A friendly chap who asked where we were from and told us a bit about his bar.

Sendai Mediatheque is a library building which opened in 2001. We went to take a look at it's almost completely glass facade, but to be honest after seeing The Forum at Norwich I felt slightly underwhelmed.

Before returning to the hotel we stopped off for a late night snack at the supermarket opposite. I'd been here a week already and not yet tried a sake, I picked up a One Cup Ozeki costing just ¥200 (£1.30) to enjoy with my bento box. The bento box was varied but the One Cup was as basic as it gets, not the greatest taste but at 14% it hit the spot.

A favourite of mine, the good old Crunky chocolate bar. The chocolate is packed full of tiny malt puffs which ensures a good crunch with every bite. Our time in Sendai had almost come to an end and our minds were now firmly on our next destination, Takamatsu.

Click here for Day 9
  Sunset in Takamatsu


  1. Really interesting blog. Thanks for posting! The bento box looks very tasty, so interesting you describe it as 'varied'.

    1. I was just referring to the varied selection of items the bento box contained.