Travels in Tohoku – Yamadera

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Why I love Japan:

Dinner at “Sasebo” Burger Bar
Visit Pokecenter next to hotel
Onsen & Sauna with LotR soundtrack playing
Vending machine whiskey in a can

The quest for gainful employment (I’d take a job as an organ grinder’s monkey if it came with a work visa) takes me to Sendai today.  It’s my first trip here (and to Tohoku generally), which means it was also my first trip on the Tohoku Shinkansen.  Sendai is a pleasant town – just the right size, with some nice nature surrounding it.  Because it was bombed flat in the war, it sadly has almost no pre-war buildings left in the city center, but on the bright side it does have the wide avenues and thousands of trees the city planners chose to rebuild their downtown around.

I spent most of the day at the 1154 year-old monastery complex Risshakuji, known to most of the world as Yamadera.  It’s about an hour west of Sendai and at a considerably higher elevation, and it had already received a good deal of snow this winter – and it was snowing today as well.  Mountain temples in the snow?  Sign me up.  Visiting the entire complex requires a climb of 1015(!) steps, and many of them were pretty treacherous today.  But it sure was pretty up there.

Upon returning to town, I had the evening referenced above – turns out the hotel is right next to a Pokemon Center (no veterinary services).  I also stumbled upon a group of locals standing poised with cameras in-hand, staring at darkness.  Well, I figured either Sendai has some very unusual customs or something was about to happen, so I stuck around.  And sure enough, what seems to be the city’s main Christmas tree exploded in a dazzling spray of light.  Good timing there.

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  1. J

    And now, thanks to your great pictures and my fond memories of winter-time in Japan, my wanderlust has kicked in again and I want to move back to Japan. Haven't been there since I was 8, and I've forgotten the vast majority of my fluency, but it would be so amazing to live there.

    I doubt I could convince the wife and newborn to move, though. Well, maybe I could get the newborn on board, but she doesn't know anything aside from eating, sleeping, pooping, and looking cute at this point, so that convincing wouldn't really count.

    How did you ever get out to Japan and start this adventure to begin with?

  2. Long, long story. Uchuu Kyoudai, desperation and a willingness to take a big gamble.

  3. F

    Beautiful photos Enzo…many thanks. ^^

  4. S

    Hey, Sendai! That is up my way. I'm a bit more north in Iwate.

  5. This is the furthest North I've ever been in Japan, so if nothing else, this has given me a chance to see a little of the country.

  6. e

    Is that a Jizo in the snow with a borderline Red Riding Hood attire I'm seeing? 😀
    And just to keep it relevant to both travellers' patrons' influence and LotR soundtracks:
    'May it be an evening star shines down upon you
    May it be when darkness falls your heart will be true
    You walk a lonely road
    Oh how far you are from home

    Mornie utulie
    Believe and you will find your way'

    P.S.: those are three trees in holy Xmas lights union! Very pretty.

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