Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fascinting! a 360 degree view of Matsushima and Godaido

http://photo.sankei.jp.msn.com/panorama/data/2011/0326godaido/

Thanks to my husband I've been able to find this info with images of Godaido in Shiogama a taken a few days ago. It seems that the small islands have protected the area of the hit. I know this place very well as my husband is from village just beside, Shiogama.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cemeteries and Their Angels

Pine Bend Cemetery, Rosemount, Minnesota, 1999.
(Click on any image to see a larger version.)

I have been taking pictures in cemeteries for years. I find them fascinating, and I am very interested in the statues in cemeteries. Figures of angels, in particular, can be haunting and evocative. Recently, I've been working on some of the angel images I have, with an eye to processing them for mood. Here are some examples of what I've been working on.


Below is a statue of an angel in the St. Donatus Catholic Cemetery, St. Donatus, Iowa from May 1990. I have processed it to look like an antique photo:


Next is an angel statue in Linwood Cemetery, Dubuque Iowa, (March 1992), rendered as a Polaroid transfer:


This angel is from Oakland Cemetery, St. Paul, Minnesota, March 1999:


Finally, I'm not sure who this statue is intended to represent, but the encroaching storm creates a mood. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Valentine Nebraska, June 2009:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Round Barns

(Click on any image to see a larger version.)

Yesterday the sun was finally shining, so I headed out with my cameras to shake off the winter blahs. I ended up at the historic round barns on the South Farms Campus of the University of Illinois, where my infrared camera seemed to be the camera of choice. The photo above is a shot of some of the barns. Then here are some of the individual barns:



Finally, a view down a road near the adjacent UI Veterinary Medicine complex:


As spring approaches, and the world becomes green, I'm looking forward to exploring more with the infrared camera.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Matsushima Update: Wonderful News! (3-27-11)

This story from Honolulu Magazine is the first real news report from Matsushima, and the news it reports is very good indeed. To sum up, some stores in town were damaged, but everything, (and pretty much everyone) survived:

http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/Sendai-Honolulu-Journal/March-2011/Saturday-March-26-Matsushima-Magic/

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Matsushima Update 3-26-11

I've come across another article that indicates quite a bit of damage to the islands in Matsushima Bay, but that the City of Matsushima was largely spared.

The article is here: http://www.autonews.com/article/20110325/BLOG06/110329916/1503

Friday, March 25, 2011

Photo Of The Day


Here's a photo of the Illini Union at University of Illinois under a full moon. Yes, it's HDR. No, it's not the recent "Super Moon". This shot is from September 2007.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Photo Of The Day


While we're wishing spring along, here is a summer photo of some trtees in the Iowa countryside, rendered as a painting.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Matsushima: A First-Hand Account of the Earthquake, and Pictures

 Matsushima bay after the tsunami. 
Photograph copyright Michelle Paul. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

(Michelle Paul of North Carolina was in Matsushima with her parents during the earthquake and tsunami. She was kind enough to e-mail me about her experiences, and provide a link to an album pf pictures on Facebook. Here is her e-mail verbatim)


Paul,
I'll try and help as much as possible!  First off, there were no collapsed buildings.  The tsunami was only about 3-4 meters so it wasn't enough to topple anything.  However, any shop or house that was on about the first 2 rows from the bridge to Fukuura-jima all the ways to the train station, had the lower level completely ruined. Windows are gone, about a foot of mud, and all the belongings are out in the road.  This of course was particularly bad for most of the tourist shops along this strip as all their wares are ruined.  The boats in the harbor are mostly okay however 3 or 4 of them were in the road when I left.  Cars unfortunately left in lots were smashed together but those can be replaced.  Several of the restaurants that we visited (a curry shop and a ramen shop) were completely cleaned out during the tsunami. 
The islands themselves were relatively untouched.  My dad and I were actually on Fukuura-jima during the earthquake and everything there is okay.  I believe that some of the smaller ones further out in the bay were stripped of trees but the large ones up close were untouched.  Zuiganji was a sanctuary.  That was were my dad and I ended up running to from the tsunami and was untouched by the waters.  The water came all the way up through the path through the trees and up to the temple entrance (where they sell tickets).  When I left, the mud was still everywhere as well as some items from the shops that washed up, but nothing that a good clean up cant fix.  However some of the statues did crack and fall during the earthquake but none of the major ones.  We were there with about 200 other people and the monks were kind enough to let us stay in their meditation hall and even cooked us soup and boiled fish.
As for the experience that I went through, I can write something up if you would like.  It truly was a terrifying few days but the people of Matsushima helped us immensely.  In the end though, the water was running short so we had to leave before it ran too low.  I've attached a few photos but if you want more, I'm on Facebook and there's an entire album full of photos.  Try the link below to see the album, if it doesnt work Ive attached a few individual ones.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Photo(s) Of The Day


In honor of the first full day of Spring, here are a couple of shots of the East-Central Illinois countryside, in early summer. The picture above was taken on the edge of Ludlow, Illinois, looking southeast. The picture below was taken east of Urbana. Happy Spring.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Matsushima Update: Zuiganji being used as shelter

(7:00 A.M. CDST, March 19, 2011)

The Italian site Agora Vox reports briefly on Zuiganji. They say: "From the website of Trycicle learn, however, that the damage to the temple, however, should not be very serious, since NHK reported that 300 people were evacuated and made ​​safe in the Temple Zuiganji."

The article is here, and a Google Tranlate version is here. I don't know why it seems to be only the Italians who are interested in this story, but there you go.

The Trycicle site page (it's in English) has two pictures of people being sheltered in what does indeed appear to be the interior of the Zuiganji. The limited view of the building shows no apparent damage. Unfortunately, the twitter feed links for the sources of the story aren't working (at least not for me) so I wasn't able to follow up any further.

This continues to confirm the basic trend of the information we have so far, and is encouraging.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo(s) Of The Day


Two photos today, both from garden of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, and both rendered as a painting. November 2006. (Click on either image for a larger version.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Matsushima Update: No news is good news?

(9:15 a.m CDST, March 17, 2011)

I continue to search for news of Matsushima and its temples in the news sources at my disposal (LexisNexis, Westlaw, Google News, Yahoo! News), but there is still not much to report. Summarizing everything that is out there, and please take this with a grain of salt, I would say that it appears that the area has been damaged by not destroyed, and that the islands of the bay may have protected Matsushima itself, as well as the Godaido and Zuiganji. Here's hoping.

One of the complicating factors in finding news about Matsushima itself is that the nearby city of Higashi-Matsushima was one of the very worst hit and has been devastated, as was the Matsushima Air Force base, which is also further along the coast to the east. Stories involving those places are many, and of course come up an any search on "Matsushima".  The problem is exacerbated by the fact that some reporters have dropped the "Higashi" from "Higashi-Matsushima", implying that they were talking about Matsushima City, when in fact their subject was Higash-Matsushima to the east.

A good example of this is the three pictures that can be found in Yahoo! News pictures showing destruction in what is called Matsushima. (Thanks to commenter Margaret for the handy link.) In fact, all three of those pictures are identified elsewhere as being of Higashi-Matsushima, and not Matsushima City, and are more consistent with conditions in Higashi-Matsushima.

Pictures we've seen that do seem to be of Matsushima Bay and Matsushima City have given a more hopeful view. This satellite photo supplied by a commenter shows water in Matsushima City, but the area around the temples looks relatively unscathed, with boats appearing to be docked in an orderly fashion along the pier next to the Godaido.

The best pictures we have so far that appear to be definitively of Matsushima itself are those linked to in Update #6. Again, we see damage, but not destruction.

As I said, new stories or reporting are scarce. New today is this brief story, again more about fears of Matsushima having been damaged or destroyed. Other than that, I haven't found anything new.

Thank you so much for all the comments and the feedback. Prior to posting on Matsushima last Friday my little blog averaged 15 visitors a day, or about 100 a week. From Friday through Wednesday this blog has had over 5,000 visitors--an astounding number. I am overwhelmed by how much concern others have for Japan, and although the situation is tragic, I have personally been thrilled to have met and corresponded with so many nice people all over the world.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The People of Japan

Couple with baby, Matsushima Bay, June 1988.
(Click on any picture for a larger version)

My passion for photography is generally limited to landscape and artistic subjects. I've never been drawn to photographing people, and I find it very difficult. I have lots of respect for photographers who can capture people well. As a result, except for the usual snapshots of family and friends, I haven't taken many pictures of people over the years. One exception to this has been my trips to Japan, where I found the people fascinating, along with everything else. As a result, I do have pictures of people from Japan. I thought I would share some of my favorites here, in a spirit of unity and hope for the Japanese people.

Schoolgirls, Sendai, June 1988.

On a tour of the Todaiji, Nara, November 2006.

Harvesting tuna, Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, May 2005.

Children at the Shichigosan (ceremony to bless 3, 5, and 7-year-olds), Nara, November 2006.

 Women in Kimono, Ohari-Machi, Ise Grand Shrine, November 2006.

Shrine maidens, Meiji Shrine, Tokyo, June 1988.

Street performers, Ueno Park, Tokyo, May 2005.

Women wearing kimono raincoats, Kyoto Station, November 2006.

And finally, my son Cory and me with sushi chefs who befriended us, Hakodate, May 2005.


All my best to the people of Japan.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Matsushima Non-Update

(6:00 a.m. CDST, 3/15/11)

I have been scouring Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, and Google looking for mentions of Matsushima and its temples in the news, but apart from some mentions in the Italian press yesterday as discussed in Update #7, there has been nothing.

This silence is, I think, painful but appropriate. The people of Japan have suffered an unimaginable catastrophe, and it is right that everyone's attention should be on caring for the suffering and finding the dead, not to mention dealing with a growing nuclear disaster. My emphasis on Matsushima is beginning to feel a bit shallow, if not callous, but of course my first concern is for the people of Japan.

Let me sum up what we know right now. The few news reports that mention Matsushima, along with a few photos, indicate that the area was damaged, but not destroyed the way surrounding areas were, including Higashi-Matsushima and parts of Sendai. There are several photos showing the Godaido standing and with its roof intact. The extent of any damage to it is unknown. There are no photos of Zuiganji, but at least one press report of some significant damage to its walls.

I think we will have to leave it at that for now. Eventually we will get more news, and when I find it I will report it on this blog. In the meantime, let us turn our attention to the people and what we can do to help.

I donated through the American Red Cross, which is sending supplies and assistance. Other possibilities include UNICEF and Save The Children, both of which are emphasizing assisting children affected by the disaster. There are many other options as well. Please do what you can.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Memories: Hakodate

Hakodate as seen from Mt. Hakodate, May 2005.
Hakodate is a very interesting city on the southern tip of Hokkaido, Japan's northern Island. Hakodate apparently had only minor damage from the earthquake, but reportedly suffered two separate tsunamis. However, in spite of the flooding, damage is said to be relatively light, as compared to other areas.

The city is situated on a narrow isthmus, at the tip of which is an extinct volcano, Mt. Hakodate. There is an observatory at the top, which gives an amazing panoramic view of the city and the ocean. It's especially popular in the evening.

Mt. Hakodate, as seen from the harbor side of the isthmus, May 2005.

Hakodate was, and is, a busy port city. However, in earlier times, Hakodate was very much a border city. It not only was Japan's first outpost on Hokkaido, and interacted with the indigenous Ainu Peoples of Hokkaido, but in the Meiji period it was one of three ports open to foreign ships, and places where foreigners were allowed to live on Japanese territory. As a result it was the site of several foreign consulates, and a number of Christian churches of various denominations.


Hakodate today is a bustling port city of 300,000. It's northern climate means fairly cold and snowy winters, and mild summers, much like the rest of Hokkaido. For visitors, in addition to Mt. Hakkodate, there is a very interesting star shaped fort, Fort Goryokaku, along with temples, shrines, and so forth. I thought it was very enjoyable place to visit.

Elevated freeway, Hakodate, May 2005.

Matsushima Update #7: Zuigangi Temple Damaged

 (6:30 a.m. CDST, 3/14/11)

This story is from an Italian site called Daily blog. Translated from the Italian by Google Translate

http://www.dailyblog.it/giappone-sisma-danneggiato-tempio-zuiganji-e-tesoro-nazionale-censiti-danni-a-33-siti-di-alto-valore-storico-culturale/14/03/2011/

Japan / Earthquake: Zuiganji damaged temple, is a national treasure. Surveyed damage at 33 sites of high historical value Editorial Latest 14/03/201


Rome, March 14 (TMNews) - It 's still difficult to get news about the damage to the artistic Japanese after the devastating earthquake / tsunami that has devastated the northeast. However, some reports are starting to come out. The Zuiganji, a Zen temple which is a national treasure, has major damage. Writes the website of the newspaper Yomiuri Shinbun.
According to the Department of Culture said the government, at least 4-5 points in the walls of the structures with fractures. The temple is located in the town of Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture.
So far in the disaster areas, 33 sites were surveyed high artistic and cultural damaged.


I searched the English site for Yomiuri Shimbun, but couldn't find the story they are referring to. If anyone reads Japanese, and could check the site, it would be appreciated.

********

On a lighter note, as of Monday morning (where I am) there is another story implying that Matsushima bay, while damaged, did not get hit as hard as other areas:

http://www.smh.com.au/world/small-miracles-amid-the-carnage-20110314-1bulh.html

If you have any other information about Matsushima Bay, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Update #6: Another picture with Godaido still standing

[I have removed the picture because I don't have the photographer's permission to use it. I, of all people, should know better! The picture with Godaido still standing can be seen using the link.]

This was sent to me by Josh B (thank you) but the original is here: http://p.twipple.jp/chxUC

The photographer's page, with more pictures, is here: http://p.twipple.jp/user/meshikui3

I would have to say that things look bad but not terrible.

Matsushima Update #5: Glimmers of hope

I don't want to read too much into this, but while no outright description of Matsushima Bay since the earthquake has come to my attention, there are small mentions that may give rise to hope. We already have the link to a picture that purports to show the Godaido in place with a roof, which if accurate means it hasn't been absolutely destroyed.

Now a search of Westlaw's news databases has dredged up two stories that mention, in passing, people getting at Matsushima shrines. Again, without trying to read too much into it, here is a mention in the Guradian UK:

"We evacuated to high ground and a strong modern building so we are safe, but we haven't had water or electricity since the quake," said Yuta Kimura as she waited for her turn to use a well at a shrine in Matsushima.
3/14/11 The Guardian (U.K.) 1

This German news story implies that Shrines in Matsushima are being used as shelters (Translated from German by Google Translate) This story is Copyright 2011 AFX News Limited


MISCELLANY: 'Suddenly the earth to crack' - German experienced the quake
BERLIN / SENDAI / PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mathias fruit wanted to enjoy the beautiful view on the bay of Matsushima, when suddenly the earth shook. The 21-year-old student at the East Asia Institute of Applied Sciences Ludwigshafen spend a year abroad in Japan - and has witnessed a disaster of historic proportions.

The news agency dpa, he reported: "The quake has suddenly increased in strength, so it was hard to keep their heads still on their feet." Fruit stood on the shore next to him Japanese students, many of whom began to cry.

'Suddenly cracks around us on the earth and water came out from the columns. "

Roof tiles fell from the houses, signs to bent. A ferry workers responded immediately, reported the native Berliner: 'They told us that we must come as soon as possible to a higher position. " In anticipation of a tsunami, they brought the group in a forest.

From a nearby temple were monks. They had set up tents to shelter from the rain. 'I'm also talking to Japanese people with whom I was able to talk to calm me down', told Radio fruit Per the fugitives were informed about the tsunami warnings and the consequences of the earthquake.

The water rose until the beginning of the forest. 'We then went into a temple. " The monks and volunteers brought food and blankets. 'We were informed that the complete power and radio network is down, "said Obst parents and friends, he was able to send any messages. Candles lit the church.

There were repeated violent aftershocks. Many old people and some children shared with the Ludwigshafen students the shelter. 'Fear-inspiring were the moments when the phones began to ring the Japanese, because the built-in earthquake alarm system reacted. " Then held the man down the candles. Often, however, nothing happened then, so that 'the wait was a torture. " The old man sang to calm the children.

'We were told that all boats driven away, a local primary school children are still not returned home and the school is not accessible. " Volunteers went on a search. 'It is this kind of organization and helpfulness of the Japanese I was impressed, "said Obst

The next morning he could make himself an idea of ​​the situation:

The tsunami had devastated the entire area. Mud and water covered the streets. Boats were washed ashore, cars were washed into the sea. In the shops was the water, their discs were destroyed: only with difficulty was able to get fruit and two newly found friends in the city about 20 kilometers away, Sendai. There, the student wanted to leave the region by train - but the station was locked. No trains or buses were.

Fruit depicted on his impressions during the search for a hotel:

torn road surfaces and long queues at the few open supermarkets. Because of power failure and many stranded, many hotels were booked.

On the night of Sunday, he took refuge in a hotel lobby. 'Currently, there are still aftershocks and occasionally you can hear the alarm of the Japanese mobile phones. " had to sleep out of the question, "said the 21-year-old. 'Right now I want to leave this area just yet.' / Kre / DP / stb dpa-AFX ProFeed (German) Copyright 2011 AFX News Limited March 13, 2011
I will continue to look for reports, but I now hope that Matsushima has survived.

Japan Memories: Koriyama

Koriyama's industrial sector, from the train station, June 1988.

Koriyama is an industrial city of 340,000 in the central highlands of Honshu, about half way between Tokyo and Sendai. I spent a week there in 1988, but it's not the type of place most tourists would visit. Koriyama was hit by the earthquake, and has lost power and water supplies, but it was too far inland to be affected by the tsunami. However, Koriyama is now in the news because it is the closest city to the Fukushima Daiichi and Daiini nuclear plants, which are in the process of melting down. As a result, Koriyama is dealing with evacuations and radiation threat, along with earthquake damage.

Outdoor market, Koriyama, June 1988.

Koriyama was a wonderful place to observe normal Japanese life. It has both department stores and outdoor markets, as above, and hums along as a typical small Japanese city. But if Koriyama itself is a bit unexceptional, the countryside around it is not.

Lake Inawashiro, June 1988.

Koriyama is not far from Lake Inawashiro, pictured above, the fourth largest lake in Japan, and said to have the cleanest waters. The lake offers many recreation opportunities, and the mountains above it have skiing in the winter. My hosts in Koriyama took me to see the lake, and to visit a farm. It was all fascinating.

Farmhouse interior, near Koriyama, June 1988.

Like all of Japan, Koriyama now has its burdens, with damage from the earthquake, and ongoing problems with damaged nuclear plants. I wish the people of Koriyama all the best.

Please consider making a donation to the charity of your choice to help the people of Japan recover from this tragedy. Here is a good place to get information on donating.

Countryside near Koriyama, June 1988.

Matsushima Update #4

(9:18 a.m CDST, 3/13/11)

In regard to the Masushima post, an anonymous commenter (#38--March 13 8:31 a.m.) has posted this link to a picture that appears to show the Godaido, still standing, in Matsushima Bay. As the commenter says, the picture is hard to make out:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellockie/5518585411/

You will have to judge for yourself if this is a hopeful sign. Again, thank you to all commenters.

I have been searching all the news sources I can, including Google News, Yahoo! News, and Lexis-Nexis, but have yet to find any mention of Matsushima Bay. That said, it appears that the Sendai area is much worse off than we first thought, and according to the Associated Press, "Large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Matsushima Update #3

Thanks for all the wonderful comments on the Matsushima post.  I will continue to post any news about Matsushima that I can find from legitimate sources. If you have news I haven't found, or wish to contact me directly, please write to me at pdhphoto@gmail.com

Matsushima Update

I am still unable to find any solid information on conditions in Matsushima Bay. However, I did find two pictures of destroyed trains, said to be taken in Matsushima City. Those pictures can be seen here and here. Unfortunately, if their location information is accurate, their implications for the rest of Matsushima Bay are not good.

Some information is available on Higashi-Matsushima and Matsushima Air Base, both of which have been completely inundated and destroyed. However,  it should be noted that both are directly on the coast, on flat land east of Matsushima Bay. Whether the geography of the bay had a protective effect for the Godaido and Zuiganji is still an open question.

Sendai Memories: Lovely "City of Trees"

Sendai skyline seen from Atago Shrine, June 1988
(Click on any image for a larger version)

Sendai, Japan, has come to the world's attention as the city closest to the epicenter of Japan's worst recorded earthquake, and the hardest hit by the resulting tsunami. As I write this, about 24 hours after the earthquake, Sendai is still in chaos, with communications cut off, fires raging, and rescue efforts underway. As with Matsushima, which I wrote about yesterday, there is a frightening lack of information. Things sound dire, and much needs to be done, but in the face of all these images of carnage, the world should know that Sendai was a beautiful, vibrant city--and it will be again.

Before I go any further, please consider donating to a charity that will help the people of Sendai, and Japan, as they recover. Yahoo! News has a good page of resources here.

 Detail, Atago Shrine, Sendai, June 1988)

I have blogged about Sendai and Matsushima in the past (here and here), so I will probably repeat myself, but Sendai has always been one of Japan's hidden jewels.  Sendai was the first place I spent time in Japan, on my first trip there in 1988, and as I said in the introduction to the "Sendai" section of my book of photographs from Japan, it is the place I think I really fell in love with the country.

Statue of Date Masumune at the site of Sendai Castle, June 1988

Situated along the north coast of Honshu, it is a city of about one million people, set in a lush forested and mountainous landscape that's led it to be called the City of Trees. It is the home of a major university and also various industry, including a busy seaport. Although the Sendai area has been populated for 20,000 years, it was in 1600 that the modern city came into being as the headquarters of the Daimyo Date Masumune. Since then, Sendai has been an important city in Japan.

Sendai street scenes, June 1988

The modern city of Sendai is a mixture of old and new. Lush with trees, but also skyscrapers and bullet trains. The people, I found, were uniformly friendly, and as outgoing as anyone in Japan. It is perhaps the quintessential modern Japanese city, and all the more so because so few foreigners visit it.

It is absolutely heartbreaking to think what Sendai is enduring now. I wouldn't wish it on anyone in the world, but especially not a place as lovely as Sendai. But I do know that Sendai will endure. It will recover, it will move forward, it will thrive. In the past Sendai has successfully come back from being nearly destroyed, not least from bombings during World War Two, and it will come back again. For now, my thoughts and prayers (and donations) are headed their way.

Stone lamp with butterfly, Sendai, June 1988

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan: How you can help

My post today on the probable destruction of Matsushima in the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami has generated over 10 times the normal traffic to my blog. To first time readers, thank you for stopping by.

If you want to help the people of Sendai, and Japan, CNN has information on how to contribute here. Please consider donating to the Red Cross or Save The Children.

Japan in Memoriam: Matsushima Bay and The Godaido

Matsushima Bay, Japan

TO SEE FURTHER MATSUSHIMA UPDATES, CLICK HERE.

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UPDATE (7:00 A.M. CDST, March 19, 2011)

The Zuiganji is apparently undamaged enough to be used as a shelter. Details here.

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UPDATE (9:15 a.m. CDST, March 17, 2011)

I have just posted an update summing up where things stand as of this morning.

**********

UPDATE (or non-update) (6:00 a.m. CDST, 3/15/11)


I have been scouring Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, and Google looking for mentions of Matsushima and its temples in the news, but apart from some mentions in the Italian press yesterday as discussed in Update #7, there has been nothing.

This silence is, I think, painful but appropriate. The people of Japan have suffered an unimaginable catastrophe, and it is right that everyone's attention should be on caring for the suffering and finding the dead, not to mention dealing with a growing nuclear disaster. My emphasis on Matsushima is beginning to feel a bit shallow, if not callous, but of course my first concern is for the people of Japan.

Let me sum up what we know right now. The few news reports that mention Matsushima, along with a few photos, indicate that the area was damaged, but not destroyed the way surrounding areas were, including Higashi-Matsushima and parts of Sendai. There are several photos showing the Godaido standing and with its roof intact. The extent of any damage to it is unknown. There are no photos of Zuiganji, but at least one press report of some significant damage to its walls.

I think we will have to leave it at that for now. Eventually we will get more news, and when I find it I will report it on this blog. In the meantime, let us turn our attention to the people and what we can do to help.

I donated through the American Red Cross, which is sending supplies and assistance. Other possibilities include UNICEF and Save The Children, both of which are emphasizing assisting children affected by the disaster. There are many other options as well. Please do what you can.
***********

 UPDATE #7 (6:30 a.m. CDST, 3/14/11)


An Italian news site claims Zuiganji Temple has significant damage. Read the full update here.

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UPDATE #6 (6:30 p.m. CDST 3/13/11)


Another picture with Godaido still standing

[I have removed the picture because I don't have the photographer's permission to use it. I, of all people, should know better! The picture with Godaido still standing can be seen using the link.]


This was sent to me by Josh B (thank you) but the original is here: http://p.twipple.jp/chxUC

The photographer's page, with more pictures, is here: http://p.twipple.jp/user/meshikui3

I would have to say that things look bad but not terrible.
***********

UPDATE # 5 (6:00 p.m. CDST, 3/13/11)


Are there glimmers of hope? Some passing news mentions seem to imply that the temples in Matsushima survived the earthquake and tsunami. Read the full update post for details

***********

UPDATE #4 (9:18 a.m CDST, 3/13/11)

An anonymous commenter (#38--March 13 8:31 a.m.) has posted this link to a picture that appears to show the Godaido, still standing, in Matsushima Bay. As the commenter says, the picture is hard to make out:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellockie/5518585411/

You will have to judge for yourself if this is a hopeful sign. Again, thank you to all commenters.

I have been searching all the news sources I can, including Google News, Yahoo! News, and Lexis-Nexis, but have yet to find any mention of Matsushima Bay. That said, it appears that the Sendai area is much worse off than we first thought, and according to the Associated Press, "Large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable."

***********

UPDATE #3 (7:15 p.m. CST, 3/12/11)

Thanks for all the wonderful comments on this post.  I will continue to post any news about Matsushima that I can find from legitimate sources. If you have news I haven't found, or wish to contact me directly, please write to me at pdhphoto@gmail.com.

***********

UPDATE #2 (6:30 a.m. CST, 3/12/11)
I am still unable to find any solid information on conditions in Matsushima Bay. However, I did find two pictures of destroyed trains, said to be taken in Matsushima City. Those pictures can be seen here and here. Unfortunately, if their location information is accurate, their implications for the rest of Matsushima Bay are not good.

Some information is available on Higashi-Matsushima and Matsushima Air Base, both of which have been completely inundated and destroyed. However,  it should be noted that both are directly on the coast, on flat land east of Matsushima Bay. Whether the geography of the bay had a protective effect for the Godaido and Zuiganji is still an open question.
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UPDATE #1:
My post today on the probable destruction of Matsushima in the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami has generated over 10 times the normal traffic to my blog. To first time readers, thank you for stopping by.

If you want to help the people of Sendai, and Japan, CNN has information on how to contribute here. Please consider donating to the Red Cross or Save The Children.

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(Posted 11:00 a.m. CST, 3/11/11)
This post may be premature--I pray that it is--but today's devastating earthquake in Japan is almost certain to have heavily damaged, if not destroyed, one of Japan's great national treasures: Matsushima Bay.  I should make clear that my first thoughts, and my prayers, are for the people of Japan, and Sendai, as they face this terrible disaster. But to lose Matsushima and its treasures would be terrible indeed. Located on the coast just north of Sendai, Matsushima was near the epicenter of the quake, and in a direct line to get hit by the tsunami that has ravaged Sendai and other areas on the Miyagi coast. News is not yet available about Matsushima itself, but the rampant destruction we've seen in Sendai, to the south, and other points to the north, makes the unthinkable seem inevitable.

Matsushima bay is one of the Three Great Views of Japan. It is a beautiful bay filled with 260 low, pine-covered islands. As one of the Three Great Views, it is one of three locations that all Japanese people hope to visit and enjoy in their lifetimes. Here is a view of the bay from the shoreline:


Of even greater concern than the largely unoccupied islands are the ancient relics and temples that line the Matsushima shore, particularly the Godaido and Zuiganiji temples. These are ancient temples that preserve some of Japan's oldest historic relics.  Here is the Godaido:

 
Godaido was first built in 807 on a small islet just feet off the shore. It is a small temple that contains 5 famous statues of Buddhist saints. These statues can only be viewed by the public every 33 years--most recently in 2006. The loss of the Godaido and its statues would be not unlike France having the Louvre and the Mona Lisa destroyed. The cultural cost would be very great. Here is another picture (with a much younger me in it) to show how precarious the Godaido's position is in relation to the ocean:


The Zuiganji temple was also founded in the 800s and has many historical relics in its museum, in addition, its grounds have many small caves carved into the side of the hill, for meditation, that are filled with ancient rock carvings. The loss or heavy damage of the Zuiganji would also be devastating


Finally here is a map of Matsushima bay, showing the location of these places. The Godaido is at the center, the Zuiganji just below it:


As I said above, my first thoughts, and my prayers, are for the people of Japan, and Sendai, as they face this terrible disaster. However, Japan is a country with an ancient, wonderful culture. Let's hope that the cost to the people of Japan, in lives and property, doesn't have to be exacerbated by the lost of precious cultural heritage.