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Saturday, March 26 - Matsushima Magic

Saturday, March 26 - Matsushima Magic

Thankfully—and perhaps magically—not all northeast Japan's coastal towns were wiped out by the quake and tsunami.

One of the main buildings at Zuiganji Temple that has been fending off tsunamis since 828 A.D.

Photos: Ian Schumaker

Matsushima is a small tourist town along Japan’s northeast coast. By all accounts, it too should have sustained heavy damage from the March 11 quake and tsunami. But, as it has for centuries, Matsushima stood its ground. There was some minor damage to the shops that line the narrow coastal road but no deaths reported. The people living in Matsushima believe they are protected. Maybe it’s the dozens of small islands just off its coast. Maybe they redirect the tsunami or buffer its fury.

The towering evergreen trees lining the walkway to the temple have also stood for centuries and offer a cool respite for visitors in the summer.

However, many believe Matsushima is protected by the special powers provided by one of Japan’s most beautiful and enduring temples.

Matsushima’s Zuiganji Temple is one of Japan’s National Treasures. It has been designated one of the three top scenic spots in all of Japan with the other two being in Hiroshima and Kyoto. It is unquestionably northern Japan's most famous temple.

Built in 828 A.D., this Zen temple has survived countless earthquakes and numerous tsunamis. Yasue, her mother, Ian and I all visited Matsushima last year. I remember being stunned by the huge trees that dominated the temple grounds and lined the long walkway to the main temple buildings. They offered a cool respite on a hot, humid June day. The temple grounds are massive with statues and buildings spread all around providing a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the tourist shops just outside its main gates.

The high coastline and many off-shore islands might also be what is keeping Matsushima safe.

Today, Zuiganji is still a place of refuge as it is an evacuation center for those living nearby whose homes were damaged in the quake and tsunami. Whether through magic or geography, Zuiganji will likely continue to protect the people of Matsushima for centuries to come.


Posted on Saturday, March 26, 2011 in Permalink

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About This BLOG

Scott and Yasue Schumaker moved from Japan to Hawaii in 1995. They and their son Ian, 14, live in Kapolei. In mid-January, Yasue unexpectedly returned to her childhood home in Sendai, Japan to care for her ailing mother. She was in Sendai when the devastating 9.0 earthquake struck. In this blog, Scott will share how all 3 family members are coping with the separation amid the chaos and misery of post-quake life in northern Japan. All times in this blog are HST.

Editor's Note:
Scott Schumaker, president of our parent company, PacificBasin Communications, has a unique take on the events unfolding in Japan. His wife, Yasue, is a concierge at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa. Yasue was in Sendai when the earthquake and tsunami hit and was one of the first people interviewed by CNN. She remains there, looking after her ailing mother and coping with the devastation. In this online column, Schumaker chronicles the experience of one family, both separated and united by disaster.

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