Yamagata Karamatsu Kannon-do and Bunshokan

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!

Visited: April 30th 2012

Suwa Shrine in Yamagata

Suwa Shrine

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!

Suwa Shrine in Yamagata

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.

Ema of Suwa Shrine in Yamagata

The ema of Suwa Shrine.

Yamagata City

I totally didn’t expect to see a church there! At a second look I figured it is just a “pseudo” chapel for weddings. smilie

Mamigasaki River Yamagata

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.

Mamigasaki River Yamagata

Once I was off the road I could finally enjoy the beautiful landscape!

Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata

Karamatsu Kannon Hall

And then I finally arrived at the “Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall” (唐松観音堂).

Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata

This kannon-do was founded in the style of a cliff-hanging structure just like Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto.

Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata

You can enter the Kannon Hall from here.

Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata

A close-up of the “wishing paper strips”.

Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata

The ceiling inside was really beautiful with all those pictures.

Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata

The interior of the Kannon Hall was quite small, so there wasn’t that much to see, but a few things were interesting.

Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata Japan's Biggest Imoni-kai Festival, gigantic pot in Yamagata

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 (6 m diameter) at the riverbed of Mamigasaki River the dish “imoni” (芋煮, stewed potatoes) is made for about 30000 people.

Yamagata City


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!

Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum) Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)

It was already closed when I arrived there, but the building and surrounding park were very beautiful.

Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)

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!

Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum) Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)

A very colorful park!

cherry blossoms in Japan cherry blossoms in Japan

The peak of the cherry blossoms was over and thus you could find more on the floor than on the trees.

Yamagata City Shrine, Onegai Ushi

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.

Yamagata City Shrine Yamagata City Shrine

Besides the cow there were a few other statues of interest, too.

Yamagata City Shrine Ema

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:

Sensho-ji (専称寺):
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.

Bansho-ji (萬松寺):
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! smilie
A small island full of cats … that also survived the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami 2011!


    • Well, I bet you went during other seasons and got to see other awesome things, right?
      I had one spring where I totally missed the cherry blossom season despite living in Japan.
      It was last year, right after the great earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.
      The cherry blossoms were extremely late, so during my spring vacation I didn’t get to see them and then I got home with 40°C fever and had to rest for almost a week.
      When I finally recovered the cherry blossoms were already gone. :notamused:

      But you know, that’s what makes them so special. You’ll only get to see them for a very short time each year! ;P

  • I particularly liked that Karamatsu Kannon-Do. What a great site!

    Many rivers in Japan are unfortunately not that agreeable, as they seem a bit “over-managed”: stone banks, breakwaters, etc. The Mamigasaki doesn’t seem too bad, though.

    Thanks for the nfo and the lovely pictures!

  • The Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall (唐松観音堂) looks amazing. I haven’t heard about it before but would love to visit it one day. Thanks for the tip and look forward to more in this great series.

  • oh how I missed your stunning pictures of Japan~ everything looks so amazingly beautiful! hehe the pseudo chapel is quite funny and the buildings are impressing! In Otaru they have some pretty western style architecture too..

    • Thanks so much! ^-^;
      There are quite a few spots in Japan where you would find a lot of Western-style buildings.
      In Hokkaido there were a lot in Hakodate! :D
      Unfortunately I haven’t been to Otaru yet.

  • Hi. :huh: I must have to look at two times, but the ‘Bunshokan’ looks like the ‘Japanese Museum’ here in Dresden, from the backside… ^-^” But I envy your traveling to so much places! :kyah:

    PS: I have to the heart to do posting here, and I hope my english is good enough…

    Translation :bleh:
    Hi. Ich musste wirklich zwei mal hinschauen, aber die ‘Bunshokan’ Residenz sieht aus wie die Rückseite unseres ‘Japanischen Museums’ hier in Dresden… ^-^” Aber insgesamt bist du wirklich zu beneiden, die Plätze die so bereisen tust!

    PS: Ich habe mich mal getraut hier meinen ‘ersten’ Post zu setzen, und hoffe mein Englisch ist gut genug, um es zu verstehen – ansonsten bleib ich nämlich beim Deutsch xD

    • Hi Pierre!

      Don’t worry, I understood what you wanted to say! ^___^
      Thank you very much for your nice comment!
      I hope you’ll have a chance to visit all those places in the future, too! :D

      • Hi. Ok, that’s good, because i know, i can better writing than speeking english ^__^ And yes, i hope also to visit this country in the future, it’s a great dream for me! :luvit: …and just in time, i save money for this ^-^”

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