The Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan

May 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Travel

During the Edo period(1600-1867) a Japanese scholar named Shunsai Hayashi traveled across Japan on foot and documented the three most beautiful places he encountered in a book titled “Nihon Kokujisekikou” (Observations About the Remains of Japan’s Civil Affairs).  Despite the passing of more than 200 years, these three places still hold a special place in the hearts of the Japanese people and retain much of the beauty that so impressed Hayashi.


Located in the Tohoku region of Japan, over 260 small islands dot the coastline of this seaside town about 30 minutes outside of Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the largest city in the region.

The beauty of Matsushima is hard to describe but even on a hazy day with hundreds of tourists milling about it is a peaceful place. A short walk from Matsushima Kaigan Station on the Senseki Line from Sendai takes you to a seaside promenade that meanders along a craggy coastline with amazing views of the the small islands and lush greenery as far as the eye can see.

Matsusmi Islans Miyagi Japan

Three small islands are connected to the promenade by distinctive red bridges.  Oshima Island features Buddhist relief sculptures carved into the rock faces and statuary tucked into cave-like nooks and crannies that have been created by the sea.   Godaido features a temple that enshrines five Buddhist deities in a hall that is only open to the public once every thirty-three years.  Lastly, Fukuurajim Island, a prefectural park, is accessed by a footbridge that is 252 meters long and is home to lovely pathways offering views of Matsushima Bay.

Leaving the coastline behind, a short walk will take you a number of ancient shrines and temples including Zuiganji Temple that was originally built in 828 and houses a stunning art collection featuring shoji door panels aglow with gold leaf and intricate carvings.

The sights of Matsushima can easily be seen on a day trip from Sendai.


Located in the Chugoku region of Japan, the island of Miyajima is located in the southwestern part of Hiroshima prefecture and is one of the UNESO World Heritage Sites in Japan.

The iconic red Otorii (gate) of Itsukushima Shrine floats in ocean and the shrine itself dates back to 593, with the present vermilion shrine pavilions built over four hundred years later in 1168.  Take a ropeway up or climb Mt. Misen to enjoy a beautiful views of the islands of the Seto Inland Sea or explore the other parks on the island.

Itsukushima Shrine Otorii Red Gate Hiroshima Japan

Miyajima can be accessed in a little over and hour from Fukuoka, Osaka or Kyoto.


Located in the Kansai region of Japan, in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, Amanohashidate is a three kilometers long sand bar that stretches into Miyazu Bay.

The sand bar was crated by an accumulation of sand resulting from ocean currents and wind.  Over 8,000 Japanese pine trees grow on Amanohashidate  also knows as “Hakusha-Seisho,” which means “white sand and green trees”.  Japanese legend has it that Amanohashidate is the fallen ladder used by a God to climb up to heaven.

Amanohashidate Sand Bar Kyoto Japan

Amanohashidate is  located approximately two hours from either Kyoto or Osaka.

Image Credit: Flickr, Home of the deadly killer moskitoes, O-Torii Gate at Miyajima’s Itsukushima Shrine & Summer08 ‘Amanohashidate’

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  1. I’m not as high on Matsushima as I am on Miyajima. I think to see the beauty of Matsushima you would have to take a ferry - which I have not done yet.

  2. I have not had the pleasure of visiting Miyajima but did think that Matsushima was very beautiful and peaceful despite the hoards of tourists in the area. I would definitely go back again.

  3. […] one of the Three Most Scenic Spots in Japan, is famous for more than just its small islands that dot the bay, its lovely views, ancient temples […]

  4. I’ve been to all three, and have to say that I think Miyajima comes out tops. Matsushima was beautiful, and maybe sixmats is right about having to see if from the ferry, or maybe I just needed more time there. Amanohashidate was nice, but I thought over-rated and very, very touristy - having said that, the crab sashimi I had there was amazing.
    Miyajima, though, had it all for me. I don’t know how she did it, but my wife got us an awesome deal at the Iwaso ryokan. The shrine was beautiful both during the day and at night (it’s worth taking the night boat trip, if the tide is in, which takes you through the illuminated torii), and the next day we climbed up to the peaks of the island and to the tiny shrine at the top. Just magic.

  5. […] is considered on of the three most scenic spots in Japan and is located in the Tohoku region of Japan.  Visit Miyagi Tourist online search to find our […]

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