Top Ten Japan Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Horseback Matsushima
By Brent Madison

Brush up on your haiku from the back of a horse. Rated by the Japanese as one of the top three scenic wonders in Japan, majestic Matsushima Bay is filled with 260 pine-covered islands. The 17th-century haiku poet, Basho, wrote of the beauties he encountered here in his masterpiece,The Narrow Road to Oku, an account of the splendors of Miyagi Prefecture. Naturally, such famous scenery brings tourists, but you can avoid them by skipping the southwestern end of the bay near the Matsushima-Kaigan train station and Matsushima town. To reach Matsushima's unspoiled corners, take the train to Nobiru and head to Oku-Matsushima, or the eastern curve of the bay. A local horseback-riding club runs a riding service that takes you through the area's lauded pines and along the bay for spectacular views of the historical scenery.

Best Hotels in Matsushima


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