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.
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.
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！