Day 2: Cities in the Clouds
July 26, 2013
It took us two days of long flights, long lines and bus rides to get to our final destination of Sendai, but we are finally here. We didn't get to see much of South Korea. And not just because we only traveled about five miles from the airport, but because the city was covered with a heavy layer of smog (from China, I was told). The moon I saw in the sky was actually the sun, dimmed by layer upon layer of pollution. What we were able to see, though, was beautiful: green land, long bridges, a few golf courses and many people who seem used to the overcast skies.
Weather-wise, flying into Sendai wasn't much better. In fact, the layer of fog (not smog, here) was worse. Our Asiana Airline pilot had to circle around for half an hour above the city until a spot in the fog cleared. And now, when we look out the windows on the bus and outside our hotel room lanai, it's nothing but a white, thick, fluffy cloud—one that you wish you could blow away, because it's blocking the view of Sendai City. I was told that the weather has been rainy for a week, and thunderstorms are being forecasted. Regardless, we stuck to our agenda and began our trip in Japan with a delightful, though wet, tour of Matsushima with ponchos in tow.
Matsushima, which comprises around 260 islands, was for the most part spared by the tsunami, receiving a maximum wave height of about a story tall. The islands are said to have helped protect the town.
Our group on a pier in Matsushima with Godaido Hall hiding in the trees behind.
Photo: Andrew Ryan
This was my second time walking through its streets, and there hasn't been any remaining sign of damage that I have seen. The stores are packed with omiyage, the boats are giving tours around the islands and the sights to see are well worth the trip (even for a second, or third, time).
One of the main attractions of the boat tour around Matsushima Bay is feeding the birds that follow the boat.
Photo: Andrew Ryan
We ended our evening with a celebratory dinner—a buffet as colorful as the names of its dishes. We are looking forward to our morning in Ishinomaki and hope the weather will let the boys play.
(Edited 7/26/13 12:26 p.m.)
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Posted on Friday, July 26, 2013 in Permalink