Right by the exit from Matsushima Kaigan Station in Miyagi Prefecture you’ll find a lively area of shops and interesting places to eat. If you like crab, then try kamaboko - a kind of crab product with a slightly sweet taste on a wooden skewer. There are grills for both children and adults where you can grill your kamaboko yourself.
Further along there is a special kokeshi shop with a large window where you can watch a master making kokeshi. You can buy an unpainted one for 800 JPY and try painting it yourself. One of the walls has a display of kokeshi painted by famous people along with their photos with the master and their works.
Further along is the very old Zuiganji Temple with its Treasure Hall. The temple suffered a lot from the tsunami caused by the earthquake of 2011, but is now almost restored. Inside the Treasure Hall there are gorgeous golden screens and altars. The path to Zuiganji is lined with tall cedar trees and rocks with old grave stones. The temple is open everyday from 8am to 5pm with an entrance fee of 700 JPY.
There are two islands connected to the shore by bridges. The larger island is Fukuurajima and its red bridge stretches for 252 metres! A botanical garden with many kinds of trees and plants is located on Fukuurajima. It’s a very nice place to walk and rest with its views of Matsushima Bay. Fukuurajima is open every day from 8am to 5pm (430pm in winter). Entry is 200 JPY.
The smaller island is tiny but is considered to be the symbol of Matsushima. On the island there is nothing except a wooden temple called Godaido. The current building has been preserved since its last reconstruction in 1604. You can visit for free at any time.
Right near Godaido there is a pier for cruise boats and ships that make different tours around the Matsushima Islands. Private tours are also offered by locals.
If you walk in the opposite direction from all of the places here you'll come across one more island - Oshima, but that's another story...