Matsushima changes – 5 years and 2 years

One thing about being an avid (if not very good! ^_-) photographer of a particular subject, you can find evidence of changes over time.

One of my favorite subjects is Matsushima, Japan, as I’ve highlighted in other posts. The first time I was in Matsushima, in September 2007, I fell in love with the town and area, especially the Fukuurajima nature preserve. The island was spared the worst of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, but did not escape its effects completely.

Fukuurajima is a large island in Matsushima Bay that was set aside as a nature preserve by one of the shoguns back in the 1600’s, and it’s been pretty much the same since, except they installed toilets and a small restaurant, to go along with the inevitable temple. Interestingly you still have to pay a toll to cross the bridge to Fukuurajima and back.

Fukuurajima map

This… is Fukuurajima, and you are there!

warning sign to pay toll

You! Shall not! Pass!

toll rate sign, Fukuurajima bridge

…unless you pay 200 yen toll!

Label on flowering tree, Fukuurajima 2010

In May 2010 the flowering trees were blooming, just like the sign says

bush of blooming flowers, Fukuurajima 2010


On one part of the path that meanders around the island is a small clearing, with many flowering trees native to the island’s “micro-ecology.” In spring and fall, this area was ideal for resting in the sun or shade before heading back to the mainland. Unfortunately, since it was already a low-lying area near the water, it did not fare well in the tsunami, and in fact the land subsided, just as the mainland did. This has led to more of the clearing being exposed to wave after wave of salt water at high tide, which has killed many of the flowering bushes and trees and damaged some of the lawn in the clearing.

Fukuurajima 2007

clearing, Fukuurajima 2007

Fukuurajima, 2010

Resting in Fukuurajima, 2010

Fukuurajima, 2012

Clearing, Fukuurajima 2012, post-tsunami

Matsushima bay in May 2007

Facing the bay, 2007

Matsushima bay at much higher tide 2012

Almost exactly the same spot, but much higher tide, in 2012

The trees and flowering bushes further away from the water and up on the hill have been spared, and they will likely be used to plant in the clearing, but much further away from the water’s edge. Much of any cleanup or restoration effort is probably taking a backseat to the main effort of rebuilding and restoring the rest of the devastated Touhouku region, so that people can move out of the “temporary” shelters in a few years.

If Matsushima can produce this much beauty after all it’s been through, and as long as little kids can laugh and play there, Matsushima will return! がんばって、松島!

Matsushima bay 2012

Matsushima bay, 2012

little girl and older people, Matsushima 2012


Tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *