After coming back from Yamadera, I still had half the afternoon left, so I decided to explore Yamagata City a bit more.
All I had seen so far was the great Kajou Park and I was sure there was more to discover than just that!
Near JR Yamagata Station I got a rental bicycle, a map and had two things in mind that I wanted to see.
However, on my way I came across a few other interesting things like the shrine in the photo above (Suwa Shrine, 諏訪神社), so I stopped several times.
Walking or a rental bike are the best ways to explore a city!
In this case most of the interesting sights were too far to walk, but close enough to access by bicycle.
There was also a good bus system connecting the main attractions, but if you’re short on time you might be faster with a bike!
I’m glad I stopped whenever I saw something that looked interesting.
Though no national, cultural or historical important property some spots can be extremely beautiful / interesting nevertheless!
Suwa Shrine was really spacious with a garden, two or three koi ponds and a few cherry blossom trees.
The ema of Suwa Shrine.
Yes, I stopped for the most random things! That was the wall in front of a school or kindergarten and I remember that there was some kind of festival for the kids going on.
I totally didn’t expect to see a church there! At a second look I figured it is just a “pseudo” chapel for weddings.
It took quite some time, but when I finally hit the river (Mamigasaki River, 馬見ヶ崎川) I knew I wasn’t too far from where I wanted to go.
I have to admit that it wasn’t a pleasant bike ride along the river as I had to bike on the main road with tons of cars around.
Once I was off the road I could finally enjoy the beautiful landscape!
And then I finally arrived at the “Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall” (唐松観音堂).
This kannon-do was founded in the style of a cliff-hanging structure just like Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto.
It was spring, but Tohoku is still pretty cold then, so even the statues had to wear warm clothes!
You can enter the Kannon Hall from here.
A close-up of the “wishing paper strips”.
The ceiling inside was really beautiful with all those pictures.
The interior of the Kannon Hall was quite small, so there wasn’t that much to see, but a few things were interesting.
I left again to go to the huge pot that I already saw from far away when I was standing in the Kannon Hall.
On the first Sunday in September Yamagata City holds “Japan’s Biggest Imoni-kai Festival” (日本一の芋煮会フェスティバル).
In a gigantic pot (6m diameter) at the riverbed of Mamigasaki River the dish ” imoni” (芋煮, stewed potatoes) is made for about 30000 people.
I was on my bicycle again, this time I stopped by at “Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)” (文翔館・山形県郷土館).
Bunshokan is an English Renaissance building established as a Yamagata prefectural government office and a prefectural assembly hall in 1916. It was restored in 1995 and designated as a national treasure!
It was already closed when I arrived there, but the building and surrounding park were very beautiful.
I spotted a few locals (not in the photo) who were spending their evening in the park. It is indeed a pleasant park, great for an evening stroll!
A very colorful park!
The peak of the cherry blossoms was over and thus you could find more on the floor than on the trees.
Right behind the Bunshokan was a little shrine.
In the photo above you see a so-called “Onegai Ushi” (お願い牛, lit.: ask-for-a-favor-cow) that you can find in many Tenjin (also: Tenmangu) Shrines.
You’re supposed to touch the cow while praying.
Besides the cow there were a few other statues of interest, too.
The ema of the shrine had a dragon displayed as 2012 is the year of the dragon.
The deadline for bringing the rental bike back came closer and so I rode back to the station.
I didn’t have time to see everything there was to see.
There are some museums and a few more temples that sounded worth checking out.
I can’t confirm if they’re as interesting as they sound, but at least I want to mention two temples that I would have visited if I had more time:
This temple enshrines the spirit of Yoshiaki Mogami’s daughter, Koma-hime, who was tragically killed at Sanjo Gawara in Kyoto after marrying Hidetsugu Toyotomi. The main temple is a municipally designated cultural asset.
This is a temple located on Mt. Chitose. It is told that Princess Akoya founded the temple about 1300 years ago. There are many legends related to this temple.
In the evening I was already on my way to my hotel in Miyagi Prefecture (near Sendai).
The next morning I got up very early to visit something I had been longing for – for the longest time: Cat Island – Tashirojima!
A small island full of cats … that also survived the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami 2011!
Stay tuned so that you won’t miss this highlight!
Thanks for reading.