Matsushima (松島) is one of “Three Views of Japan” (Matsushima, Amanohashidate and Miyajima). There are more than 200 hundred broken islands in Matsushima bay. You can enjoy the scenery from the land or on the cruise boat. As probably you know, this region was damaged by the great earthquake in March, 2011. However Matsushima was not damaged very seriously because of many islands.
I strongly recommend you to visit Matsushima since it can be accessed from Sendai very easily. It is only 40 minutes trip by Senseki line local train. Of course it is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass.
I visited Matsushima on this past March. I show you how to get there.
At Sendai station (仙台駅)
Sendai is the biggest city in Tohoku region. You can access to Sendai by Tohoku Shinkansen. If you get on Hayabusa or Hayate from Tokyo, it takes less than 2 hours to get Sendai.
First of all, please refer JR East Sendai station map. After you get off Shinkansen, go to Central exit. There is another exit, South Exit. But you cannot transfer to local line at south exit. Once you reach Central Exit (above picture), don’t exit there and turn left to the end. You will see the escalator to downstairs. This is to the transfer gate.
At Sendai station, Shinkansens platforms are located at 4th floor. Shinkansen’s ticket gates are located at 3rd floor. Conventional line (local train) ticket gate is located at 2nd floor. And conventional line platforms are located at ground floor.
If you use Japan Rail Pass, you can exit from Central exit anyway. After go through central exit, you will see the stairs to the right. Go downstairs and you will see Conventional line’s central exit.
I mentioned the platforms of conventional lines are located at the ground floor. But only Senseki line platform is located at the underground.
After you see Senseki line sign, just follow the sign to the platform.
Senseki line (仙石線)
View How to access to Matsushima in a larger map
Senseki line connects Sendai with Ishinomaki (石巻) via Matsuhima-Kaigan (松島海岸). However this line was damaged by the great earthquake in 2011. The section between Takagimachi (高城町) and Rikuzen-Ono (陸前小野) is still closed due to serious damage. But you have no problem with access to Matsushima. Because Matsushima-Kaigan station is not located in closed section.
Since there are only one platform and two tracks, #9 and #10, it is very easy to catch the train. Senseki line is a commuter’s route. So there is no limited express trains. You have only two choices, local and rapid. Rapid skips many stations and faster.
Apprx 45 minutes to get Matsushima-Kaigan from Sendai by Local
Apprx 30 minutes to get Matsushima-Kaigan from Sendai by Rapid
Both Rapid and Local are operated once every hour. There are many more local trains on Senseki line. But these trains are operated to Higashi-Shiogama station (東塩釜). This is two stations before Matsushima-Kaigan. So you can take these trains to Higashi-Shiogama. But you need to wait for another trains to Takagimachi (one station away from Matsushima-Kaigan) anyway.
The trains are nothing special on both Rapid and Local. If you take these trains, you need to pay basic fare only. Even if you take Rapid, there is no surcharge.
Matsushima-Kaigan station (松島海岸駅)
This station is exactly located in the center of Matsushima. You can access to many attractions and points of interests from this station on foot.