News reports on March 22 show that the 1000-year old 長命穴Longevity Cave - one pass adds three years to your life - has collapsed.
[One of the 260 islets in Matsushima before the tsunami; now most islets and pine trees have been decimated]
On March 11, at 2:47PM local time, Japan is struck by the largest recorded earthquake in its history off the coast of the northeastern city of Sendai [9.0 on the Richter scale]. It surpasses the previously largest 宝永地震 in 1707 [Magnitude 8.6]. Minutes later, the coastal areas were devastated by a huge tsunami津波.
The same epicenter has acted up before, in 869AD [貞観11年] [see the red rectangle in the diagram above]. The tsunami had also left markings in the inland areas.
Matsushima松島, near 仙台市Sendai City, in Miyagi-ken, is one of the three major sights in Japan. Legend has it that the well-traveled poet Matsuo Basho [松尾芭蕉, 1644 – November 28, 1694] was at loss for words, totally captured by its beauty when he first visited it. He left behind an unfinished haiku: Matsushima ya aaa Matsushima ya Matsushima ya松島や ああ松島や 松島や.
News reports now indicate that the Matsushima Bay was somewhat spared; although East Matsushima appeared to have been hit hard by the tsunami (see photo below taken at 8:58AM on March 12 by a reporter):
Unfortunately, the short Togetsu Bridge渡月橋 linking Oshima雄島 has now vanished; the 252-m red bridge to 福浦島Fukuura Island - the Fukuura Bridge福浦橋 above - is most likely also damaged.
And 瑞巌寺Zui-gan-ji, a national treasure built in 1604-9 by Lord Date Masamune伊達政宗, has been turned into a temporary shelter for some 300 stranded tourists who were later evacuated to Sendai. The temple itself sustained some minor damages. The entry way to the temple is covered by mud, however.
The counterpart of the tastiest oyster that has long disappeared from Danshui can still be found in Matsushima; although after the tsunami, the fate of the famed 松島牡蠣Matsushima kaki, cultivated in the bay remains unclear; the exports seem to have stopped for now.
This natural disaster has wreaked havoc in the northeast Japan where entire villages and towns were claimed by the sea. The Fukushima power plant nuclear reactors are still out of control. With 50 heroic workers on the job, that too will end soon, one way or the other. The journey of recovery will be a long and hard one; yet fully recover it certainly will.
Good luck and Godspeed.