The Three Great Views of Japan are the giant torii in the sea at Miyajima, the dragon’s tale of the sandbar at Amanohashidate and the islands of Matsushima. Of these, we had not seen Matsushima, so with Japan Rail Pass in hand we decide to rectify the situation.

A tip if you have pass and multiple travellers, reserve trips online so you only need a single passport to collect the seat reservations from the machines.

We catch a local train from Akihabara to Ueno and have some time to spare, so we wander over to Ameyoko Dori, where a few open stalls sell gaudy t-shirts, some blatantly pornographic along the grimy narrow street.

When you want fast, comfortable, travel a Shinkansen is fantastic, but I find them impersonal, remote from the landscape through which they race.

It’s only an hour and a half from Tokyo to Sendai. Despite passing through the city many times, I’ve never actually got off here. That barely changes, as we race to transfer to the local Senseki Line to Matsushima Kaigan.

The contrast in comfort is stark, with inward facing seats. Not until we reach the port, where giant cranes stand tall and coastguard ships sit docked, does the scenery become interesting. As we near our destination, there are glimpses of the tiny islands of carved limestone topped by pines that the bay is famous for.

The first priority upon getting off the train is lunch. Or is it? That restaurant? Yum, but not, no, let’s find a cheaper one? Oh, that one isn’t right, let’s keep going. No, stop, I want to see inside that omiyage store.

We grill a aasa-kamaboko (local fish cake), try a custard cake, buy B a curried oyster bun.

To one side of the long pathway to Zuiganji are caves fronted by many armed Buddhist carvings where cremated remains were interred.

Finally, we cross the road and the short slatted bridges to the Godaido Hall, small temple on a tiny island.

The long bridge to Fukuura Island is our destination, but we still haven’t had lunch. A restaurant on the corner looks like our last chance. It is fronted by old, but very friendly, women and with resignation we go inside to be surrounded by elderly European tourists.

The food isn’t too expensive or bad, so I guess it was an okay choice, if nothing special.

We rush over the long red bridge to the island, a botanical preserve, and up to a couple of the lookouts across the bay. From here you can see the famous island views, though many opt for cruises on the very windy seas.

It is beautiful, but now we have no time. It’s a fast walk all the way back to the station, arriving with minutes to spare.

It is now a matter of retracing our journey. We have almost half an hour at Sendai, enough time to buy some flavoured mochi and peach flavoured potato chips from the market stalls in the station.

Comfortably seated on the Hayabusa Shinkansen back to Tokyo, I fall asleep.

When I wake I see clouds above the coastal plains.

The Shinkansen terminates at Tokyo. We explore the Hands store in the Daimaru department store by the station, then walk in the dusk to Loft in Ginza.

Whenever I am in Loft I decide that I will write a lot more by pen on beautiful stationery and decorate it with cute stickers.

It won’t happen, but I can dream.

There’s also a Jin’s glasses store inside and more frames and lenses are procured, though the 50 minute wait means we are very hungry by the end of it.

The food in the area is expensive and many shops are closing for the night. We walk to Yurakucho Station and catch the train to Akihabara. But, after queuing for Beard Papa cream puffs, again there it is a challenge getting a decision on food. It is eventually ramen.

With everything closing, Alex has a play at an arcade opposite the hotel.

Last night in Tokyo. Another, even longer, Shinkansen ride tomorrow.

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