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.