Matsushima - Ojima


Matsushima 松島

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Earth


Matsushima, a place name that resounds in the ears and
the heart of a seasoned haiku poet

... aaa, Matsushima ya!

Read more about the possible author
of this famous haiku below!

CLICK for more Japanese photos CLICK for more English photos

Ranked by the Japanese as one of Japan's three great views (along with Miyajima and Amanohashidate), Matsushima has long been a popular touristical destination. The great poet Bashou Matsuo (1644-1694) came here and exclaimed in one of his most famous Haiku poem :

"Matsushima, Ah! Matsushima! Matsushima!".

Matsushima is made up of over 200 small, pine-tree covered (as its name indicated) islands. Take one of the boat cruises to Shiogama or Oku-Matsushima, or walk to the islands of Fukuura-jima and Oshima to fully appreciate the splendor of the landscape.

The Kanran-tei Pavillion (観欄亭) was given by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to the Date lords of Sendai for moon-viewing and tea ceremony.

The Godai-do Hall (五大堂), a minor wooden temple, was founded in 807 and has five statues enshrined by the same priest who founded the Zuiganji. It is only open once every 33 years, the next time being in 2006.

Further inside the land, a few hundreds meters due North of Matsushima Kaigan station is the Zuigan-ji temple (瑞巌寺). It was founded by the Tendai sect as early as 828, long before Sendai existed. The current structure was build by Sendai lord Date Masamune 伊達政宗 in 1606, and is one of Tohoku's finest Zen temple. Don't miss the lavish Seiryuden (清流殿)
© www.jref.com


Zuiganji 瑞巌寺 Zuigan-Ji
91 Matsushima Chōnai, Matsushima-chō, Miyagi-gun

- quote
Seiryuzan Zuigan-ji 青龍山 瑞巌寺
The temple, commonly referred to as Zuigan-ji, was originally founded in 828 by Jikaku Daishi 慈覚大師, but was rebuilt by the feudal lord Date Masamune from 1604 onwards using lumber brought from Mount Kumano in Wakayama Prefecture and skilled workmen from Kyoto and Kii. Hondō (Hōjō), the main building, which was completed in 1609, measures 39 meteres by 25.2 meters and houses the principal Buddhist image. Many parts of the temple have been designated as natural treasures and cultural assets. The haiku poet Bashō wrote a tribute to the golden walls inside the temple.
The Zuigan-ji temple caves housed the ashes of the deceased.

Zuigan-ji temple features a number of caves carved into the rock. These caves were used for memorial services and as a cinerarium to house the ashes of the deceased. The caves were constructed in the Kamakura period and remained in use until the Edo period.

The temple grounds also contain The Zuigan-ji Art Museum established on October 1, 1995 to display various artifacts, including calligraphy by former head monks, Fusuma paintings, tea cups and portraits.

The temple sustained major damage in the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. . Pilgrimages to Fudo Temples 不動明王巡礼
Fudo Myo-O Junrei - - Tohoku Introduction .   .

The main statue is a Fudo Myo-O, but this is secret and now shown.
The Maedachi statue is non known 前立不動尊

28 瑞巌寺 天台宗 - 五大明王 / 前立不動尊 Maedachi Fudo Son

- Chant of the temple



. Ennin - Jigaku Daishi 慈覚大師 .
(794 – 864)

Date Masamune 伊達政宗 (1567 - 1636)
Haiku by Masamune

A souvenir from Matsushima,
from the temple Zuigan-Ji and Godai-Doo 瑞巌寺と五大堂
. Etsuki Daruma 江月だるまこけし Kokeshi from Etsuki .


CLICK for more photos of Shiogama !

Shiogama Town 塩竃市
is one of the doorways to tourism in the famed Matsuhima Bay.
In the“Narrow Roads to the Deep North", the poet, Matsuo Basho, describes traveling from Shiogama to Matsushima by boat.
What is not so well known, however, is thefact that over half of the“808 Matsushima Islands" are actuallyin Shiogama. In particular, the inhabited Urato Islands attract many visitors who enjoy sunbathing, marine-sports, clamming, fishing, and rape-blossom viewing.

Shiogama and the
Sail-cord Festival (hote matsuri)... and Haiku


Translating the name MATSUSHIMA
Thoughts by Larry Bole

Yagi Kametaro (1908-1986), in his book, "Haiku: Messages from Matsuyama," has a brief essay titled, "Proper Names in Japanese Haiku."

"...However, it does not follow that haiku is saturated with Zen. R.H. Blyth tried to see something of Zen philosophy in haiku, but Zen's influence on haiku has never been as dominant as he supposed. Among present-day Japanese haiku devotees, most know nothing of Zen. Anyway it is extremely difficult to try to define haiku in terms of some philosophical essence.

"In order to emphasize the particular, Japanese haikuists often use proper names. In a collection of Basho's haiku that lies at hand, thirty-four of the ninety-eight contain proper names. I count fewer in a book of Issa's haiku, but both men frequently made topical reference understood as proper names. Masaoka Shiki, too, used proper names to make his haiku specific...

[Kametaro then gives a couple of Shiki's haiku, with explanations, as examples]

"Many proper names have been recognized as season-words; some have become obsolete but others are being added. For example, the Hototgisu School of haiku recently recognized 'ogi-kuyo' as a local season-word for winter...

"The nature of haiku, with its limitations in time and place, naturally invites the haikuist to use local names. Unlike Western poets, haikuists have never presumed that their efforts would reach a nationwide audience. All through its history, haiku has been a literature of a limited group (called 'renju') who were familiar with the local names of their area and enjoyed using them in their haiku.
(October, 1974)" [end of exerpts]

I'm not sure I agree with this last statement, since Basho and other haiku poets traveled extensively, and brought back to their local haiku groups haiku which sometimes included non-local place names.

If one is translating for haiku aficionados, then "Matsuhima" would work. If one is translating for a larger audience, then "pine islands" would be helpful, although one would probably want to add an explanatory note anyway; so why not just start with "Matsushima?"

So I suggest: translate "Matsushima" as "Matsushima," and translate "shimajima" as "pine islands" (with an explanatory note appended).

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


Misebaya na Ojima no ama no Sode dani mo
Nure ni zo nureshi Iro wa kawarazu

Let me show him these!
Even the fishermen's sleeves
On Ojima's shores,
Though wet through and wet again,
Do not so change their colors.

90 - Inpu Moin no Taifu 殷富門院大輔
Attendant to Empress Inpu

. Ogura Hyakunin Isshu Poems 小倉百人一首 .

Ojima Island 雄島
is a pea shaped small island of 40 meters wide and 200 meters long.
The island used to be the spiritual training area for Bhuddist monks. There used to have about 100 caves used for the training. Also the island has stone monuments for Haiku poet Basho and Raiken, the Buddhist monk.
It is said the name of Matsushima originally derived from this island.
source : www.tripadvisor.com.sg


- shared by Tadashi san - facebook


Matsushima Kokeshi Wooden Doll with Daruma

. . . . . Matsushima, Fuku-Ura and Daruma



Matsushima ya
aa Matsushima ya
Matsushima ya

attributed to Kyoka-Writer Monk Tahara Bo
狂歌師田原坊 (Tawara Boo, Tawarabo)

There is also this version by Monk Tawarabo
(his name can also be read TAHARA)

MATSUSHIMA ya sate Matsushima ya MATSUSHIMA ya

Other sources say
the author of this famous poem is not known.

About 90% of Japanese people would think this most famous poem about Matsushima was by Matsuo Basho, but it seems not the case. Japanese references say that Basho was too impressed by the beautiful landscape to write anything.
One commentator says he only came about the name TAWARABO when looking at English resources.

More LINKS about "Matsushima Ya" and 田原坊

Tawarabo 田原坊
He was born in Sagawa no Kuni (Kanagawa prefecture) in the late Edo Period. In Sagami, even now there are many people with the name of TAHARA.
He choose the reading of a famous warrior of the Heian period, Tawara no Hidesato 藤原秀郷, who was also called Tawara no Toota 俵藤太/ 田原藤太(たわらのとうた).

CLICK for enlargement
© www.bashouan.com

According to BashouAn, the first version of Tawarabo was the one with SATE (well then!), quoted above, which later changed to AA.

. Tawara Toota Hidesato 俵藤太秀郷 Tawara Tota .


There are the three most famous scenic places in Japan, which are Amano-Hashidate, Matsushima and Itukushima (Miyajima near Hiroshima).

Matsushima is so famous in the fact that Basho Matsuo who was the most famous in Haiku couldn't compose good Haiku that is a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables.

Finally he gave up to compose his Haiku by the really beautiful great view.
So, his Haiku in Matsushima is...

Matsushima Ya,
Ah Matsushima Ya,
Matsushima Ya.

He just called Matsushima three times in his Haiku.
Can you guess how beautiful it is?

Look at some wonderful photos !

© mtfujiblog.blogspot.com


- - - Matsushima, close to the northern city of Sendai
A cave is all that is necessary for Zen, and as a bonus nature provides the view of the island-dotted bay, of rocks and pines molded in fantastic shapes, so beautiful that it rendered even Basho (who visited Matsushima in 1689) speechless - the tradition tells that the great poet was so paralyzed by the scenic grandeur that he could not capture it in a haiku.

But this is a place of Zen and in the poet's "no-words" all words are contained. Emptiness, feeling no attachment, is the true attitude of the Zen adept and, in fact, all Buddhists. It is time to close my mouth and leave Matsushima alone.

© Ad G. Blankestijn, Japan

So it was NOT Matsuo Basho who wrote this famous poem!
Maybe by NOT writing about this place during his walk through the North of Japan, he made us aware of its unique beauty even more.

CLICK for original LINK, www.shermanleeinstitute.org

The Scenery of Matsushima
Tani Buncho (1763-1841), Edo period
The Clark Family Collection

. Tani Bunchoo 谷文晁 Tani Buncho .


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Matsuo Basho and his disciples

shimajima ya chiji ni kudakete natsu no umi

islands and islands--
shattered into a thousand pieces,
summer's sea

Matsuo Basho
Tr. Barnhill

matsushima ya tsuru ni mi o kare hototogisu

At Matsushima
Borrow your plumes from the crane
O nightingales!

Sora 曾良
(Tr. Donald Keene)

Clear voiced cuckoo,
Even you will need
The silver wings of a crane
To span the islands of Matsushima.

(Tr. Nobuyuki Yuasa)


source : British Museum

asayosa o taga Matsushima zo katagokoro
asa yosa o taga Matsushima zo kata kokoro

morning and evening,
as if someone waits for me at Matsushima:
my unfulfilled love

Tr. David Landis Barnhill

morning and evening
someone waits at Matsushima!
one-sided love

"It was published in Basho's day in the brief 'zo' section of a seasonal collection."
Tr. Higginson

WKD: Senryu and Haiku

This last haiku has no season word. Basho argues that if it has a well-known place name like Matsushima, there is no need for a season and it will be in the section of "miscellaneous" haiku.

day and night
it is only Matsushima -
my great longing

Tr. Gabi Greve

Basho was planning his trip to Sendai and Matsushima
(Oku no Hosomichi) and was looking forward to see this famous place.

Waves at Matsushima
by 俵屋宗達 Tawaraya Sotatsu


- - - Station 20 - Shiogama - - -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Station 21 - Matsushima
Much praise has already been lavished on the wonders of the islands of Matsushima. Yet if further praise is possible, I would like to say that here is the most beautiful spot in the whole country of Japan, and that the beauty of these islands is not in the least inferior to the beauty of Lake Dotei or Lake Seiko in China. The islands are situated in a bay about three miles wide in every direction and open to the sea through a narrow mouth on the south-east side. Just as the River Sekko in China is made full at each swell of the tide, so is this bay filled with the brimming water of the ocean and the innumerable islands are scattered over it from one end to the other.

Tall islands point to the sky and level ones prostrate themselves before the surges of water. Islands are piled above islands, and islands are joined to islands, so that they look exactly like parents caressing their children or walking with them arm in arm. The pines are of the freshest green and their branches are curved in exquisite lines, bent by the wind constantly blowing through them. Indeed, the beauty of the entire scene can only be compared to the most divinely endowed of feminine countenances, for who else could have created such beauty but the great god of nature himself? My pen strove in vain to equal this superb creation of divine artifice.

Ojima Island where I landed was in reality a peninsula projecting far out into the sea. This was the place where the priest Ungo had once retired, and the rock on which he used to sit for meditation was still there. I noticed a number of tiny cottages scattered among the pine trees and pale blue threads of smoke rising from them. I wondered what kind of people were living in those isolated houses, and was approaching one of them with a strange sense of yearning, when, as if to interrupt me, the moon rose glittering over the darkened sea, completing the full transformation to a night-time scene. I lodged in an inn overlooking the bay, and went to bed in my upstairs room with all the windows open. As I lay there in the midst of the roaring wind and driving clouds, I felt myself to be in a world totally different from the one I was accustomed to.
My companion Sora wrote:

Clear voiced cuckoo,
Even you will need
The silver wings of a crane
To span the islands of Matsushima.

I myself tried to fall asleep, supressing the surge of emotion from within, but my excitement was simply too great. I finally took out my notebook from my bag and read the poems given me by my friends at the time of my departure - Chinese poem by Sodo, a waka by Hara Anteki, haiku by Sampu and Dakushi, all about the islands of Matsushima.

I went to the Zuiganji temple on the eleventh. This temple was founded by Makabe no Heishiro after he had become a priest and returned from China, and was later enlarged by the Priest Ungo into a massive temple with seven stately halls embellished with gold. The priest I met at the temple was the thirty-second in descent from the founder. I also wondered in my mind where the temple of the much admired Priest Kenbutsu could have been situated.

Tr. by Nobuyuki Yuasa

- - - Station 21 - Matsushima 松島 - - -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


ISSA about Matsushima

matsushima ya hito kobushi-zutsu aki no kure

little pine islands
fist after fist...
autumn dusk

CLICK for more photos

matsushima ya kosumi wa kurete naku hibari

darkness settles
over a tiny isle of pines...
a skylark singing

meigetsu ya sumi no kosumi no ko matsushima

harvest moon--
in a little pine island's
little nook

Issa is referring to Matsushima, the famous sightseeing resort consisting of many tiny pine islands. Issa imagines that they look like fists jutting up from the water. While the Japanese reader will instantly get a mental picture from the proper name, Matsushima, the English reader may or may not. For this reason I have translated the name literally as "pine island." In an undated rewrite, Issa starts the poem with the phrase shima-jima: "islands."
The third phrase of this haiku, aki no kure, means both "autumn night" and "autumn's end."

Tr. David Lanoue

matusima ya achi no matsu kara mata hibari

from yonder isle
another lark

Tr. David Lanoue

Haiga by Nakamura Sakuo


Issa, translated by Lewis MacKenzie

Nomi domo ni Matsushima misete Nigasu zo yo

Come on, Fleas,
I'll show you Matsushima--
Then let you go.

Meigetsu ya Matsu nai shima mo Atama kazu

A radiant moon!
I can count them over too
The islets without pines.

Related words

a long, long path -

***** Oku no Hosomichi 2007


Matsushima – ein Gedicht 
Die Inselwelt von Matsushima gehört zu den drei schönsten Landschaften Japans, zusammen mit Amanohashidate in der Präfektur Kyoto und dem Shintō-Schrein Itsukushima in der Nähe von Hiroshima.
Vom Schiff aus bieten unzählige Inseln mit knorrigen, gewundenen Kiefern, zackigen Felsen und tief eingeschnittene Buchten immer wieder neue, faszinierende Ausblicke. Aus dem Wasser ragen an vielen Stellen die Stangen der Austernfarmen und die Restaurants im Hafen von Matsushima erfreuen den hungrigen Reise-Gourmet mit einer Vielfalt von Austerngerichten.

Selbst bei Regen und Nebel ist diese Klippenlandschaft noch faszinierend schön. Daher ist es nicht weiter verwunderlich, dass Matsu­shima ein Motiv zahlreicher literarischer Werke wurde. Auch der bekannteste Haiku-Dichter Matsu Bashō (1644–1694) kam nach Matsushima. Er beschrieb die Inseln als »Meisterwerke himmlischer Schöpfergottheiten – welcher Mensch könnte sie ausführlich genug mit Pinsel oder mit Worten beschreiben?«

In der japanischen Literatur spielt Reisedichtung eine bedeutende Rolle. Die Gedichte und Wegbeschreibungen, die auf Reisen entstanden, waren äußerst geschätzt und populär. Die Wanderungen oder Pilgerreisen von Dichtern waren dabei oft Ausdruck einer religiös-philosophischen Haltung. »Die Jahre, die vorbeiziehen, sind auch nur Reisende im Laufe der Zeiten«, schrieb Matsuo Bashō im Vorwort zu seinem bekannten Reisebericht durch Tohoku »Auf schmalen Pfaden durchs Hinterland« oku no hosomichi ... das koennte man wohl gross schreiben Oku no Hosomichi ? . Er folgte den Spuren namhafter Poeten vor ihm, insbesondere Saigyō Hōshi (1118–1190), dem bekanntesten dichtenden Wanderpriester der Heian-Zeit (794–1185).

Matsuo Bashō wurde 1644 in Iga Ueno geboren, einer kleinen Stadt in der heutigen Präfektur Mie. Hier schrieb er seine ersten Gedichte. Später lebte er im damaligen Regierungssitz Edo, dem heutigen Tokyo. In Fukagawa, einem Vorort von Edo, wohnte er in einem ruhigen Anwesen mit einer Bananenstaude (Bashō) am Tor, der er seinen Dichternamen verdankt – Bashō-san, Herr Bananenstaude.
Gemeinsam mit seinem Schüler Sora brach Bashō, damals 45-jährig, im Mai 1689 auf und bewältigte 2400 Kilometer zu Fuß. Diese außerordentliche Leistung erforderte gute Gesundheit und Selbstdisziplin. Denn neben der mühsamen Wanderung über enge Bergpfade warteten unterwegs zahlreiche andere Widrigkeiten. Allein ein geeignetes Nachtlager zu finden und darauf zur Ruhe zu kommen, war bei der großen Zahl der Flöhe und Läuse nicht leicht.
Bashō beobachtete auf seinen Reisen die Menschen bei ihren alltäglichen Verrichtungen auf den Feldern oder in der Küche:

Eine Frau wäscht Kartoffeln . . .
Wenn ich der Dichter Saigyō wäre,
würde ich jetzt ein Gedicht schreiben

Das Essen und die je nach Saison unterschiedlichen Zutaten spielen seit jeher eine wichtige Rolle für den aufmerksamen Reisenden und werden oft in der Dichtung Japans besungen. So freut sich Bashōs Reisebegleiter Sora auf dem Weg entlang des Japanischen Meeres im Ort Kisagata auch auf kulinarische Genüsse und dichtete:

Kisagata an einem Festtag!
Was es hier wohl für
Spezialitäten gibt?


March 11, 2011 - Great East Japan Earthquake -

. The Great East Japan Earthquake .




Ella Wagemakers said...

haiku verses
the first island
in front of you

Did you know that in The Philippines, we have the Hundred Islands in the northern province of Pangasinan (accent on the last sylable)? It's not covered with pines but with ordinary shrubbery. A joke was that with an earthquake, some islands would sink and new ones pop up in their place. Not true, I hope, for those who've actually bought one or two of these islands to spend weekends on. I've heard you can rent one for €3000 euros a week, or something like that.

200 islands
and you are not on
any one of them

my boat
from island to island
a leaf on the water

I have a feeling there's not one kigo in these, except for the leaf which is a fallen leaf, obviously.

Wonderful site, Gabi ... thanks for sharing!

:>) Ella

Gabi Greve said...

Thanks Ella san,
yes, the Philippines Matsushima is well represented on Japanese TV!

Anonymous said...





松島や ああ...

「松島や ああ松島や 松島や」の句が広く知られ、これが芭蕉作と言われることがあるが、実際は、江戸時代後期に相模国(神奈川県)の狂歌師・田原坊が作ったもの。仙台藩の儒者・桜田欽齊著「松島図誌」に載った田原坊の「松嶋やさてまつしまや松嶋や」の「さて」が「ああ」に変化し、今に伝えられている。


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Chokuganji 勅願寺 Chokugan-Ji, "Imperial Temple"

temples established by direct orders from an Emperor

When an emperor decided to have a temple built with a certain vow to the deities, he usually entrusted a high priest with the effort to visit that region and supervise the construction.
The founder of a temple is called

. kaisan 開山 temple founder, "opening the mountain" .

松島青龍山 瑞巌寺 Zuigan-Ji - Miyagi (臨済宗、宮城県松島町)
淳和天皇 Junna Tenno - (786 - 840)