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SOLO JAPAN II 14.-28.3.2004.
introduction | departure day
day one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve | thirteen | fourteen | fifteen
conclusion of my trip | photo gallery II
Tuesday, 16th of March 2004

Day Three :
Yamadera Temple

Breakfast on the house

After going through the morning routines, I went downstairs to have a free breakfast which consisted of miso soup, onigiri (rice balls wrapped in seaweed) and tea. Most of the other people having breakfast were salarymen. Then I checked my e-mail from the public computer before quickly grabbing my shoulder bag from my room and left the hotel.

Today my destination would be a mountain that is planted with small temples, known as Yamadera (which means "Mountain Temple"). I went to the tourist information center again in order to get information how to get to Yamadera.

Going by local train

Surprise, surprise, the natural way to get there was by local train. It was an interesting ride to leave the city of Sendai and gradually move deeper into quieter mountain landscapes. After a hour ride which ended with a rather long tunnel section, I arrived at Yamadera station.

The weather was clear and the village itself was very quiet in a good way. Judging by the amount of tourist shops there certainly must be a bigger buzz here during peak seasons. There wasn't any tourist information center open, but a restaurant keeper near the station gave maps of the mountain area to the few tourists that came by the local train.

Walking up the mountain stairway

Soon I found myself at the root of the mountain and started climbing up the stone stairs surrounded by a cedar forest. There is said to be 1015 steps, but I didn't count as I stopped a few times to look at many types of Buddha statues.

Gradually I made it to the Niou-man gate, which had two big demon guardians carved from wood inside. After passing them, there were several small temples and houses around the area, but the real treat was the view of the mountain valley below. I can only imagine how breathtaking it must look like during the summer when everything is blooming green.

After taking several photos of the place, I headed back down, passing many elder Japanese who seemed to enjoy the challenge of climbing the thousand steps.

Returning to Sendai

While waiting for the local train that would take me back to Sendai, I ate something that looked like mashed rice balls boiled in a big pot. They were rather rubbery and the taste was rather mild (I've been told later that they might have been dango rice dumplings. I can't confirm was this the case of not).

Returning back to Sendai on the local train, I really started to enjoy the easiness of these trains. It would be foolish to claim trains aren't a characteristic part of Japan.

Back in Sendai, I faced the same problem as yesterday. I didn't know where I should go as the tourist brochure of the city didn't offer me anything I was truly interested in, so I ended up wandering around the streets again.

Walking around Sendai

At one point I found myself walking in some kind of market street selling vegetables, fruits and fish. I also visited the local Yodabashi camera department store to see if there were any cheaper memory sticks available, but no luck.

After the sun had set, I visited a department store (I think it was named AER) that had a floor specially reserved for a good view of the city. While the view was nice, I didn't hang around there too long as it clearly was a popular spot for teenage couples trying to have a private moment.

Later I entered a building called Sendai mediatheque, which architecturally was quite original by its interior looks. And on the ground hall there was as small exhibition of Finland! It basically was an introduction to the education, technology and nature of the country. I don't know why Finland was under the spotlight, but it was nice anyway.

Giving up

Back to Japan however. After leaving the mediatheque I returned to the hotel and checked from the internet if the local live venue (Zepp Sendai) had any show for tonight. There wasn't, so I decided to go to sleep early again. Bummer.

Overall Sendai seemed like a Japanese city that had everything, yet nothing interesting, so it left me a rather colourless image. I think I just didn't know what I was supposed to be looking for. Or maybe I just caught myself being lazy. Whatever the case, I'll be moving further north tomorrow morning, leaving Sendai behind me.

back to top | proceed to day four!


Photo copyright Ude
The bare, leafless Yamadera seen from Yamadera station.

Photo copyright Ude
We are clearly very far away from the tourist peak season.

Photo copyright Ude
The Niou-man gate at the top of Yamadera.

Photo copyright Ude
Viewing the mountain range with a few other random tourists.

Photo copyright Ude
Riding the local train back to Sendai.

Photo copyright Ude
A small market street in Sendai.

Yamadera - More information of the place visited can be found here (as well and other attractions of the Yamagata prefecture).
Sendai Mediatheque - One of the few places I took a look at in Sendai.


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