The A-1 thing to do in Matsushima is to catch a sunset. if you find the right spot you'll understand why Matsuhima is one of the 3 spots of Japan. That's the trick though, finding the right spot. Best to ask the locals for advice, but don't be surprised if most are indeed unable to help you. Good sunsets are way off the tourist trail here.
A must do while in Matsushima is to see one of the area’s amazing sunsets. As I have stated on the introductions page, you really need to get away from the tourist areas if you want a truly breath taking site.
The bay of islands is stunning to see, with wind and sea shaped rocks, trees and the occasional building. Matsushima is one of Japan's top three sights, and is well worth a visit if you are in the area
The Matsushima area isn’t really a great place for using public transportation in Japan. Public transportation will get you to all the tourist areas but you will be hard pressed to find a bus or train that brings you to anywhere of real interest. If you really want to see the bay you can also consider renting a bicycle. It won’t be an easy ride or for that matter a single day ride, but the sites you will see will than justify it. Be warned, there are a lot of hills and mountains. Only undertake this type of thing if you are good shape and confident in your biking abilities.
Traveling through the Tohoku region can be as rewarding as it is frustrating. The area certainly holds many hidden delights but they remain troublesome to get to. Actually many locals will be ill informed of what their town has to offer and it will taking some real sleuthing to discover the wonders of this area.
With that being said, to truly explore this area it would be wise to rent a car and travel on your own. Public transportation is spotty at best and will only get to the very major tourist spots in this area, usually in an untimely fashion as well. In addition, tour groups are even worse at directing people to really amazing sites in this area, which why most Japanese have an unfavorable view of this area.
Certainly if you’ve decided to visit the Tohoku area it is out of a desire to see a hidden and out of the way part of Japan. Really go for it and explore the area with vigor and independence.
(I have posted this tip on all my pages in the Tohoku area so as to reach a larger group of people. The multiple reproductions are not a mistake.)
Don't bother eating at the cafe connected to the toll gate that leads to the island Fukuurajima. The food is really poor and overpriced too.
It's not very well known, but there is a great little art-glass museum in Matsushima. Kyohei FUJITA was a very important influence in the art glass world, adding Japanese ornamental box themes which have influenced other well known artists like Dale Chihuly and others.
The pairing of Matsushima's vivid seascapes and art glass is wonderful. So after you've taken in all the boat rides and temples you can handle, ask for directions to the Fujita Glass Museum and spend a wonderful couple of hours.