Dear Elliot, Emmala and Eliza,

Today we visited a place that is called Matsushima. It is one of the most beautiful bays in the world. I think that you would like it, because it reminds me a little bit of Anacortes. It is a huge bay on the ocean with 260 islands. Some of them are very tiny. We saw a couple that had only one pine tree on them and a few that had no trees. We walked around on three of the islands that are connected to the shore by bridges. First we went to one that is connected by a long bridge. It is a nature preserve with quite a few interesting trails that we hiked.

Another island that we visited is very close to the shore and the bridge is quite short. It was used as a training area for Zen Buddhist monks during the middle ages. There are no monks on the island now. They are trained in a large central temple. But we could see the meditation caves that were carved into the rock. The monks used to stay in the caves for a long time to pray and meditate. It looked like the island could hold hundreds of monks, each in their own cave, all at the same time.

Matsushima is famous for its oysters, so we had oysters for lunch. Some were served in their shells and some were fried. We also had rice and I had organs juice. Grandma had iced tea.

After we visited the islands and walked around and had our lunch we took a tour of the bay and the islands on a tour boat. It had two decks. We had a booth with a table and a window that we could open on the first deck. The tour guide spoke mostly Japanese, but from time to time, we would get a few of the names of the islands in English. One is called turtle island. Another is called whale island. There are two islands that are called husband and wife islands. I think the the Japanese people must have had fun naming all of the 260 islands.

The tour boat that we took docked in a nearby town where we caught a train that took us back to Sendai where we will stay one more night. Tomorrow we will go back to Misawa and stay with Mike and Rachel.