I could just tell that today was going to be a slightly disappointing day. Probably because I’m slightly pessimistic in nature, but I was really looking forward to going to Matsushima, one of Japan’s ‘Top 3 Scenic Locations’.
It was slightly hazy/cloudy, but not too bad. The sky was a blueish hue, though nothing like vivid cloudless blue we’d been having. Temperatures were still offensive…
The rough plan for the day was to drive the Delica towards Matsushima, park, take out the ‘cub, and cruise around the coastal areas, enjoying the sights. From reading Lonely Planet, they’d mentioned that Matsushima was slightly over touristic, and that the area to the east was their recommendation. We took their suggestion and went with it. The peninsular to the east of Matsushima. I had looked at the map, and I saw what looked to be an interesting stretch of coastline around Oshika peninsular, to the east of Matsushima. It was a fair distance between Oshika and Matsushima, so we headed towards Oshika in the Delica.
Getting the bike out only takes a few minutes (I’m pretty good at it, since I do it every night/morning) so it’s really no hassle. I love any chance that we get to ride it, so I’m more than happy to make the effort, especially since there were blueish skies. The ride started fine, we got onto the coastal road ‘Cobalt Line’, but straight away the road started heading up into the hills. I was too busy enjoying the twists and turns to really care about where we were heading. I was loving the moment. Eventually we came to a clearing/lookout of sorts where we could look down at the coastline below us. We were realising that what appeared to be a coastal road, didn’t actually give us any coastal views… We took a detour, and came to a small coastal town, which was convenient, as we were low on petrol (and the rear tyre was feeling a little flat). We jumped back onto the bike and headed for the cape, hoping for some better views. We passed through two small towns/bays, one of which was quite proud of it’s whaling and even had a whale themed theme park. The whole town stank an intense putrid stench, so it’s quite possible there were several whale carcasses lying around somewhere.
About five minutes past the stinky whale town we came to a point in the road that had a lookout built, but by that time we’d entered clouds and couldn’t see anything regardless how hard we wanted it. Feeling slightly disappointed in the destination (but at least I was digging the journey), we headed back for the Delica. The whole trip took us about two hours (and covered around 60km), and by the time we arrived back at the car we were filthy with diesel particulate from following trucks up mountain passes. Quick wet wipe fixed that.
Trying to catch up on ‘lost’ time, we raced to Matsushima, via a few convenience store stops and to fill up an unhappy fuel light (leaving my fuel cap at the station in the process…
En-route to Matsushima, we went to the neighbouring peninsular (which I guess was the one that Lonely Planet was actually talking about), Okamatsushima. Risa was entertained by the acrobatics of some self-defence force jets that were likely rehearsing for an upcoming perfomance, while I tried to catch a glimpse, and not crash in the process. We saw a few cars stopped, and some people sitting up on a concrete bank. We parked and climbed up, and were completely shocked at the wide, clean and golden sandy beach. It would have to rank as one of the best beaches that I can remember seeing in Japan. Even thought it was hot, neither of us actually felt like going for a swim. It’s too much of an inconvenience getting wet/sticky. We headed further down the peninsular, and along the way caught amazing glimpses of a beautiful bay and small floating rocky islands. We were starting to get an idea of what it was that made Matsushima special.
Eventually we ended up in Matsushima after about an hour of driving/exploring. Straight away we realised that Lonely Planet weren’t exaggerating, it was crammed with souvenir shops, restaurants, tour operators, hotels and other various advertising. We’d come this far, so we thought we might as well pay for parking and go check out what the fuss was about. As we were walking down the main street, we saw a sign for a temple/shrine (Zuigan-ji). We almost didn’t bother, and what a shame that would have been, as it was an amazing set of caves that had been dug into the face of a cliff. The ‘caves’ were used for funerals and were perfectly square/neat. Some also had small Buddhas carved into the walls. It was reminiscent of the ancient cities you see in photos from SE Asia, surrounded by giant trees and nature over running the place. Nothing like I was expecting from Japan. We were most pleasantly surprised.
We rejoined the torrent of tourists, walking along the seaside, looking out at the islands in the bay. It’s a sight that I’m sure 100 years ago (maybe even 50) would have been amazing, but now the beauty can’t compete with the thousands of tourists and tour boats. We walked around for a while, and saw a red bridge to a small island. I was hoping that this would be a slight respite from the tourism, and at a ¥200 entrance fee (to use the bridge), it was a slight gamble. It was pretty enough walking around the island, and it was much more serene than back on the shore, but we could have been anywhere. There wasn’t anything special about this island, other than the occasional glimpses of the other islands in the bay. It’s not that it wasn’t beautiful, because I could see that it could be, it’s just that the distractions overwhelmed the beauty. Or something.
The past two weeks, the battery on my MacBook had been dying at around 50% remaining. Then last week, I noticed a small bulge, which turned into a larger one inside the battery, it got to the point that the computer would rock when placed on a hard surface. I was slightly worried that it would explode into flames, destroying most of my material possessions in the process. Conveniently, Sendai (which is about 22km from Matsushima) had an Apple store. So, we made a point to stop there to see if they would replace it. We turned up with the laptop, made an appointment to see a ‘genius’. We had about 30 minutes to kill until my appointment, so we went for a walk around the undercover mall area. Sendai is famous for gyutan (cow tongue), so when we found a restaurant specialising in gyutan, Risa ordered what we thought was going to be a small gyutan steak. We didn’t have much time, so we ordered it to go. 10 minutes or so later, a waiter returned with a plastic bag, and inside were massive chunks of beef, and a small salad. I’ve had gyutan plenty of times at yakiniku restaurants in Hokkaido and had never been too impressed, it’s alright, but I’d rather just order regular meat. Oh. My. God. This gyutan was AMAZING! It was so tender, and thick, and juicy and just plain amazing. It seriously blew my mind, and made me quite jealous that I didn’t order one too. I left Risa to enjoy her treat, and I went to see the ‘genius’. I was hoping that they would just give me a new battery, and they did. That’s two brand new parts in the last two months from Apple, on a computer that is technically two years out of warranty! AND to make it even better, as we were leaving, lightning started crashing. What an evening.
There was a (yet another) waterfall just south of Sendai that I had wanted to check out, so we headed to a nearby (Murata-cho, with probably the worst ever signage ever) michi-no-eki for the night. Since Risa was full, and still in a state of bliss from her gyutan feast, she wasn’t interested in dinner, which left me two options: Cook a meal for myself, or buy something from a convenience store. I bought a dodgy looking pasta from Lawsons…
All that was left was another episode of Dexter and sleep.
石巻のジ○スコの駐車場にデリカを停め、カブを出して出発！目指すは、女川、牡鹿半島エリア。リアス式海岸を五感で堪能するぜぃ☆ 道を進み、コバルトロードなる道を発見。コバルト＝青い海＝海岸線を想像し、ひたすら走るもうねうね峠道でたま〜に垣間みれる島々と半島、、約９０分のちょっとがっかりな山道ツーリングの後やっと３０分程海岸線を走ることができた。 あいにくの曇りというか霧っぽい感じであまり景色が見えなかったのも残念。 あと、気づいたのがこの辺りは捕鯨が盛んなのか、クジラにまつわる会社の看板や店がよく目についた。 そういえば昨日スーパーでも今まで見た事ない量の鯨肉が売っていた。しかも安かった。
石巻市に戻りジャ○コで水などなどを買って、次は、車で奥松島を目指す。海には、松の生えた小さな島々がいくつも浮かんでいて、とても美しかった。これは、北海道のどこでも見れない景色なので、来て良かったと思った。海ではホタテの養殖をしており、海には、いくつもの柵のようなネットの様なものがいくつも浮かんでおり離れてみると、無数の小舟の戦艦が岸に向かって攻めてきているようにもみえた。 奥松島は、人も少なく海に浮かぶ島々がとても平和にみえた。 びっくりしたのが、砂浜に大きなウミガメの死体が打ち上げられていた事。かなり腐敗していたけど、この辺りで亀が泳いでいるのかな。
平和な奥松島を堪能したあとは、いよいよ日本三大風景松島。が、通りは、お土産屋で埋め尽くされ、人、人、人、駐車場はすべて有料そして無数の観光船。松尾芭蕉のころは、さぞ美しかっただろうけど、想像するのが少し難しいくらい。 それでも、瑞巌寺については、行くまで何も知らなかったけど、なかなかすごかった。お寺までの道に岩壁が続いており（高い所では、１５〜１０mほど）岩は、立ち入りは禁止だが、洞窟の様になっており、そこに石像などが彫られてある。ここは、１２００年前から人々が埋葬などの為に訪れていたらしい。 お寺見学のあとは、福浦島に渡ってみる。赤い大きな橋がかかっている。通行料金は、２００円。あまり興味は、なかったけど、せっかくなのでとロスの勧めで行ってみる事に。 島からは、外の小さな島々が見える。松島近辺には、１２００もの島があるらしい。 島をぐるっと一周できる。確かに美しい所だけど、観光地化されすぎて私は、正直そこまで感動できなかったし、そんなに皆さんには、行くようにオススメできない。 静かに美しい景色を堪能したいなら、奥松島が断然オススメ☆
松島を離れた後は、仙台市内へ。ロスのＭａｃのバッテリーの調子が悪いのでチェックしてもらうことに。メンテの予約まで３０分ほど時間があったので、仙台の狸小路アーケード（といってもＺＡＲＡとかアップルストアとかもっとすごい店が入ってるし、人もめっちゃ多いけど。）をぶらぶらすることに。せっかくなので、仙台＝牛タン、、ということで高いので二人でシェアすることに。牛タンステーキ３９０円（税別） おお！安い！！ さっそくお店の人に申し開けないけれども１枚で持ち帰りできるか聞いてみるとこころよくＯＫ！やった〜☆ １０分程まち（３９０円でお茶とおしぼりまで出してくれた。申し訳ない、、）そしていよいよ牛タンとご対面、、、うそ〜！！ かなりでかい固まり肉が６切れ！！！ まじで？！しかもサラダまでついてるし！！！ アイラブ 牛タン炭火 利久！！ おいしかったぁ、、、これでもう仙台は十分、満喫でしょ笑
ロスのパソコンも無事無料でバッテリー交換完了し、めざすは、今日の宿、仙台から２０kmほどの所にある村田町道の駅へ。 探すのが大変だった〜ちょうど迷って入った役場にお仕事おわりの方々がいたので、助けを借りてやっとこ見つけられました☆ あ〜まだ牛タンでお腹いっぱい、、、