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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <rss version="2.0" xmlns:content="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/content/" xmlns:wfw="http://wellformedweb.org/CommentAPI/" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom" xmlns:sy="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/syndication/" xmlns:slash="http://purl.org/rss/1.0/modules/slash/" ><channel><title>Zooming Japan &#187; Blog</title> <atom:link href="http://zoomingjapan.com/blog/feed/" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" /><link>http://zoomingjapan.com</link> <description></description> <lastBuildDate>Wed, 10 Oct 2012 15:03:55 +0000</lastBuildDate> <language>en-US</language> <sy:updatePeriod>hourly</sy:updatePeriod> <sy:updateFrequency>1</sy:updateFrequency> <item><title>Akita: Kakunodate</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/akita-kakunodate/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/akita-kakunodate/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Wed, 10 Oct 2012 15:03:55 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Travel]]></category> <category><![CDATA[akita]]></category> <category><![CDATA[cherry blossoms]]></category> <category><![CDATA[samurai houses]]></category> <category><![CDATA[tohoku]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=727</guid> <description><![CDATA[After spending the morning in Akita City&#8217;s Senshu Park, I was off to Kakunodate in the afternoon. If you just go to the Senshu Park in Akita and do nothing else, then you can easily also visit Kakunodate and enjoy everything there is to see! No need to hurry! ^__^ Visited: May 2nd 2012 If [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>After spending the morning in Akita City&#8217;s <a title="Akita: Senshu Park" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/akita-senshu-park/" target="_blank">Senshu Park</a>, I was off to Kakunodate in the afternoon.</p><p>If you just go to the Senshu Park in Akita and do nothing else, then you can easily also visit Kakunodate and enjoy everything there is to see! No need to hurry! ^__^</p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-10px;"><script type="text/javascript"><!--
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src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"></script></div><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Visited:</strong> May 2nd 2012</span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3030.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>If you go by train, you have two options: <a class="about-tabs" title="It'll take about 70-100min. and you will have to change trains in Omagari. Price: 1280yen"> local train</a> or <a class="about-tabs" title="Takes about 40min. / Reserved ticket neccesary as with most Tohoku Shinkansen / Price: 2940yen">Shinkansen</a>.<br /> I chose the cheaper version!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3022.jpg" alt="Tohoku Shinkansen" /></p><p>You won&#8217;t get bored while staring out of the train window! Tohoku&#8217;s landscape is so beautiful, no matter where you go!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3000.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>There was this cute rice company on the way as well.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3033.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>And then I finally arrived at Kakunodate station. There were also coin lockers available which was great!<br /> Totoro and friends were greeting you at the front door.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3041.jpg" alt="Japanese manhole cover Kakunodate" /></p><p>Manhole cover of Kakunodate with some angry looking men at a festival.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3039.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3050.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Kakunodate is mostly famous for cherry blossoms and old samurai houses.<br /> The street that led from the station to the houses was decorated. Colorful!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3081.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3072.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>There were also a few smaller shrines and temples on the way. I was impressed by this huge statue.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3087.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Thanks to all the trees there was a pretty colorful graveyard on the temple grounds.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3126.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3099.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>I loved this tiny pink house. If I remember correctly it was some kind of shop.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3153.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>I have to admit that I mainly went because of the cherry blossoms and NOT because of the samurai houses.<br /> I&#8217;ve seen so many old samurai residences already &#8230; and while they can be interesting, it&#8217;s not something I&#8217;m hunting for (unlike castles).</p><p>Furthermore Kakunodate is known as one of the<strong> most popular cherry blossom viewing spots</strong> in the Tohoku region!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3155.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3159.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>And I surely wasn&#8217;t disappointed! There were so many beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3161.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3174.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>I wonder if all those cherry blossom trees were already there years ago or if they were planted around the samurai houses to attract more tourists! ^-^;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3183.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Advertisement for Kakunodate&#8217;s samurai houses and cherry blossoms! Pretty poster, but a little bit too big to take it with me. ^-^;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3179.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Haha. First time I saw something like that at the cashier. I bet they get a lot of foreign tourists who can&#8217;t speak Japanese, so they can just point at the pictures instead. So cute!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3181.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3263.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Hanami Dango! Of course I couldn&#8217;t resist and bought a few for myself to eat later while doing hanami (flower viewing).</p><p>On my way to the samurai houses I ran into a few spider webs that caught nothing but cherry blossom petals. I wonder if spiders like eating them? Just kidding &#8230;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3227.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Along the main tourist road, <strong>Bukeyashiki Dori</strong>, the samurai houses are lined up on the left and on the right.</p><p>Kakunodate flourished as a castle town and the seat of power in Akita during the feudal period. In the present day, Bukeyashiki (warrior mansions) with their deep groves of trees and dignified facades retain the face of the feudal period and are designated as a <strong>Historically Significant Traditional Buildings Preservation Area</strong>.</p><p>On top of that Kakunodate is most famous for the sight you see in the photo above with the weeping cherry blossom trees (Shidarezakura, 枝垂桜).<br /> Unfoturnately the petals had already fallen down and green leaves were growing instead by the time I visited!<br /> It&#8217;s supposed to look like in the poster you saw earlier.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3251.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>The two biggest and most impressive warrior mansions are: &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 9am-5pm (until 4pm from Nov-March) / Admission: 500yen / No closing days.">Aoyagi House</a>&#8221; and &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 9am-5pm / Admission: 300yen / No closing days.">Ishiguro House</a>&#8220;.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3206.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Inside the Ishiguro House.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3413.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>In front of the &#8220;<strong>Aoyagi House</strong>&#8220;. I recommend visiting!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3469.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Photos were allowed and there were a lot of interesting and beautiful exhibits.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img class="aligncenter" src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3458.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" width="400" height="613" /></p><p style="text-align: center;">Old Japanese money. I love the one with Mt. Fuji and the purple 100yen note the best.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3460.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3470.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Some awesome old medals and a beautiful folding divider wall.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3477.jpg" alt="Kakunodate Aoyagi House" /></p><p>I loved those. Too bad you weren&#8217;t allowed to open them. I&#8217;m curious what was inside!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3483.jpg" alt="Kakunodate Aoyagi House" /></p><p>Latin anyone? In Japan you&#8217;ll actually find a lot of medical books written in German.</p><p>I think I <a title="Japanese hospitals and medical care" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/life-in-japan/hospitals-and-medical-care/" target="_blank">mentioned before</a> that Japan has a lot of its medical knowledge from Germany, so I was surprised to find a book in Latin instead.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3560.jpg" alt="Kakunodate Aoyagi House" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3486.jpg" alt="Kakunodate Aoyagi House" /></p><p>The museum had everything from old times up to modern times! There were also clocks, cameras and gramophone records.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3569.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3499.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>A bit scary, but somehow beautiful at the same time.</p><p>I left the samurai residence and was back on the street again.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3216.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>There are many smaller cafés and restaurants where people can rest and enjoy the atmosphere!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3310.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3321.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Besides the samurai houses and restaurants there are also various souvenir shops.<br /> When I suddenly spotted a cat related shop, I couldn&#8217;t resist any longer! ^__^;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3323.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Cute cat sign front of the shop.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img class="aligncenter" src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3368.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" width="400" height="600" /></p><p style="text-align: center;">A woman wearing traditional clothes is posing for the tourists.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3516.jpg" alt="Kakunodate rickshaw" /></p><p>You could also enjoy Kakunodate using a rickshaw! ^-^</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3545.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3574.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Tohoku disaster charity &#8230; tea for 300yen!?! ^-^</p><p>There&#8217;s also a <strong>merchant district</strong> besides the former samurai district, but I wasn&#8217;t very interested and wanted to enjoy the cherry blossoms some more.</p><p>Kakunodate is actually a former castle town, but the castle doesn&#8217;t exist anymore.<br /> Yet I wanted to go to the spot where the castle used to stand &#8230; because as you know <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/japanese-castles/" target="_blank">I love castles</a> (even if they&#8217;re already gone, I guess *g*).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3655.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>And so I walked towards the <strong>cherry blossom paradise</strong>.<br /> While the weeping sakura trees have already turned green, the standard cherry blossom trees were in full bloom!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3711.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Tons of trees line up along the <strong>Hinokinai River</strong>. A great spot to take <a title="Hanafubuki: The best part of spring" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/nature/hanafubuki/" target="_blank">hanafubuki</a> photos.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3676.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3670.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>It was so beautiful!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3792.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>The landscape with the pink cherry blossoms, the blue river and all the green was just breathtaking!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3803.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>And as if this wasn&#8217;t enough already the mountains in the background had snow on top.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3829.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>There was even some snow left next to the river although it was already May, but that&#8217;s Tohoku!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3814.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3851.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Crossing the bridge you can see a hill. The former castle was located on top of it.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3860.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>I decided to climb that hill to see the castle ruins. I also assumed that I might have an awesome view from up there.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3909.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3919.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>Not many tourists there. I only met like 4 or 5 people.</p><p>I guess it&#8217;s not a main attraction. I also couldn&#8217;t find any details in my pamphlets.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3982.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>And I was right! The view from up there was absolutely awesome!!!<br /> All the tourists who didn&#8217;t come up definitely missed something!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3978.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3986.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>As it was quiet up there (no people) and I had such a great view I decided that it was time to eat the Hanami Dango I bought earlier.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3997.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>There was this bench, so it was really comfortable to take a rest.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP3989.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>Enjoy this view with me for a while before we move on.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4006.jpg" alt="Kakunodate Castle Ruins" /></p><p>I discovered this old well as part of the castle ruins.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4049.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>Up at the top where the castle once used to stand. It&#8217;s a bit of a hike up, but totally worth it!!<br /> It doesn&#8217;t take too long. I&#8217;d say about 20 minutes one-way.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4098.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4106.jpg" alt="Kakunodate" /></p><p>On my way back I was able to enjoy the cherry blossoms some more.<br /> I totally liked the color combination of the house and the pink blossoms!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4143.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>I went back to the river and decided to stay there until it would get dark.<br /> For me that was<strong> the most beautiful spot</strong> in Kakunodate anyways!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4264.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>And cherry blossoms just kept falling down! (*__*)b</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4309.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>There were a lot of people having hanami picnics or just enjoying the romantic atmosphere.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4332.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4144.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" width="298" height="447" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4352.jpg" alt="Cherry blossoms in Kakunodate, Akita" /></p><p>It got darker and fewer people were around. I could fully enjoy the landscape that way!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4275.jpg" alt="Kakunodate nama morokoshi" width="600" height="400" /></p><p>The black poster says: &#8220;<em>I made nama morokoshi.</em>&#8221;</p><p>The origin of morokoshi dates back to the Edo period. It is a refined and aromatic confectionery made from azuki beans and a popular souvenir to bring back from Kakunodate!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/kakunodate/IMGP4381.jpg" alt="Kakunodate JR Station decoration for spring and Children Day" width="600" height="385" /></p><p>Back at JR Kakunodate Station that was decorated nicely especially for the tourists. Of course you can see posters of the beautiful weeping cherry blossom trees, the koi flags for <strong>Children&#8217;s Day</strong> in May and the rikshaw that you can use as means of transportation as we saw in one of the photos earlier.</p><p>I got to see a lot in just one day without rushing, so I&#8217;m sure you can do the same if you like to.</p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-20px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="6610152129";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div><p>The next day I had a rather busy day. I visited <strong>Hachinohe</strong> in the morning and then moved on to the <strong>Shimokita Peninsula</strong> to go to one of the most sacred places in Japan: <strong>Mt. Osore</strong>. On my way there we were hit by a typhoon, though.<br /> Stay tuned to read the whole story soon!</p><p>Thanks for reading. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(5).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -45px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div> ]]></content:encoded> <wfw:commentRss>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/akita-kakunodate/feed/</wfw:commentRss> <slash:comments>6</slash:comments> </item> <item><title>Akita: Senshu Park</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/akita-senshu-park/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/akita-senshu-park/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Mon, 08 Oct 2012 07:12:17 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Travel]]></category> <category><![CDATA[akita]]></category> <category><![CDATA[castles]]></category> <category><![CDATA[cherry blossoms]]></category> <category><![CDATA[parks]]></category> <category><![CDATA[tohoku]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=723</guid> <description><![CDATA[After visiting one of the most devastated regions of Tohoku (due to the tsunami and earthquake of March 2011) I moved on to Akita Prefecture. My first stop was Akita City before leaving to visit Kakunodate on the same day. This post will feature my morning in Akita City in the Senshu Park. Visited: May [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>After visiting one of the <a title="Ishinomaki: Tsunami 2011 Devastation" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/ishinomaki-tsunami-devastation/" target="_blank">most devastated regions of Tohoku</a> (due to the tsunami and earthquake of March 2011) I moved on to Akita Prefecture.</p><p>My first stop was <strong>Akita City</strong> before leaving to visit <strong>Kakunodate</strong> on the same day.<br /> This post will feature my morning in Akita City in the <strong>Senshu Park</strong>.</p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-10px;"><script type="text/javascript"><!--
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src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"></script></div><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Visited:</strong> May 2nd 2012</span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2403.jpg" alt="Akita JR Station shopping area" /></p><p>The park is not too far away from the Akita JR station. You&#8217;ll come along a shopping district on your way. It&#8217;s possible to walk there in a few minutes (~10 min.).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2414.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2434.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p><strong>Senshu Park</strong> (千秋公園) means literally &#8220;<em>thousand years park</em>&#8221; is quite spacious and also features a few <strong>shrines</strong> and a <strong>castle</strong>!<br /> Entrance to the park itself is free of charge.<br /> On the right photo you can see that it says &#8220;<strong>Kubota Castle Ruins</strong>&#8221; (久保田城跡).<br /> That&#8217;s why the park is surrounded by a typical castle moat.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2492.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>You&#8217;ll access the main part of the park through the &#8220;<strong>Front Gate of Kubota Castle</strong>&#8221; (久保田城表門).<br /> This wooden, two-story turret gate with tiled roof stood at the front gate protecting Kubota Castle.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2537.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2550.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>From the front gate you have to walk through the whole park to get to the actual castle.<br /> There are many other things to see such as beautiful ponds and shrines which I will show you later.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2541.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Being the <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/japanese-castles/" target="_blank">castle lover</a> I am, I wanted to go to the castle first, though. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(23).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><a class="about-tabs" title="Admission: 100yen / Open: 9am-4:30pm / Closed: December 1st - March 31st! / TEL: 018-832-1298 (Japanese only)">Kubota Castle&#8217;s Osumi-yagura Turret</a> (久保田城御隅櫓) served as both, a lookout and a weapons depot.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2568.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2578.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Kubota Castle was the home of the <strong>Satake family</strong> which ruled Akita. There used to be <strong>eight</strong> &#8220;Osumi-yagura&#8221; towers in the age of lord Satake.<br /> In 1989 one of the towers was restored by the city on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of municipalization.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2822.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Inside the castle there is some historical material exhibited.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2821.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>There&#8217;s also a miniature of the former castle area. Very interesting!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2798.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>The top floor offers a nice panoramic view of the whole city.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2801.jpg" alt="Kubota Castle, Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>As many castles this one is also located on a small hill.</p><p>I like those castles (&#8220;hill castles&#8221;) the best because I always enjoy the view I get from the top floor.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2795.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>You&#8217;ll also have a nice view of the park from above where everything was covered with cherry blossom petals at that time!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2868.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2862.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>There was a small waterfall right next to the castle.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2842.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>You could also see it from above.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2465.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2571.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>I strolled through the spacious park and was thinking that instead of &#8220;thousand years park&#8221; it should be named &#8220;<em>thousand cherry blossoms park</em>&#8221; or so. *g*<br /> It was so beautiful!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2526.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Cherry blossom petals everywhere!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2482.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Imagine a squirrel bathing in the sea of petals while looking for food! So cute! ^-^;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2581.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Don&#8217;t you just want to lie down there or have a picnic?</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2504.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>As mentioned before there are also a few shrines in the park.<br /> These pictures were taken at the <strong>Hachiman Shrine</strong> (八幡秋田神社).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2507.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Besides the normal <a title="Omikuji: Fortune-telling paper strips" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/wiki/omikuji-fortune-telling-paper-strips/" target="_blank">omikuji</a> they also had seasonal cherry blossom omikuji.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2508.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2582.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>There was also an <a title="Ema: Wooden Wishing Plaques" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/wiki/ema/" target="_blank">ema</a> cherry blossom version. It says 合格 (goukaku) which means that students are praying to pass their exams.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2597.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>There are a lot of waterways and ponds in the park. Of course all of them were filled with petals.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2625.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>It was like walking through a pink dreamland!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2657.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>This was by far the most beautiful pond I&#8217;ve ever seen! <strong>FULL</strong> of cherry blossom petals!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2953.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2649.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2644.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>I wanted to jump into it, but I guess after that I would have looked like a pink mummy covered in petals. *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2680.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Poor lonely stone, completely surrounded by petals!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2681.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2695.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>There were so many things to discover like this little cherry blossom petal boat! Isn&#8217;t it cute?</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2720.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2729.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Koi + cherry blossoms = nice color mix!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2928.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Even the ducks enjoyed the cherry blossom bath! ^-^</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2933.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>&#8230; but then decided to leave after all! *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2984.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>Cherry blossoms everywhere, not only in the pond!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2877.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/akita/IMGP2409.jpg" alt="Senshu Park in Akita" /></p><p>And then it was time to leave the park and Akita City to go to my next destination of the day: <strong>Kakunodate</strong></p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-20px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="6610152129";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div><p>Kakunodate is very popular during cherry blossom season and you&#8217;ll soon see why.<br /> Stay tuned for more!</p><p>Thanks for reading. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(5).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -45px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div> ]]></content:encoded> <wfw:commentRss>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/akita-senshu-park/feed/</wfw:commentRss> <slash:comments>5</slash:comments> </item> <item><title>Japanese hospitals and medical care</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/life-in-japan/hospitals-and-medical-care/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/life-in-japan/hospitals-and-medical-care/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Sun, 30 Sep 2012 03:52:23 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Life in Japan]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=711</guid> <description><![CDATA[Since moving to Japan many years ago, I&#8217;ve been to a lot of hospitals and visited various doctors. I know that there are lucky people out there who managed to live in Japan without ever having to go, but I have a certain condition that requires me to visit the hospital at least every 3 [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>Since moving to Japan many years ago, I&#8217;ve been to a lot of hospitals and visited various doctors.<br /> I know that there are lucky people out there who managed to live in Japan without ever having to go, but I have a certain condition that requires me to visit the hospital at least every 3 months. <span style="font-size: x-small;">Don&#8217;t worry, it&#8217;s nothing too dramatic! ^-^;</span><br /> Thus I have a lot of experience with Japanese hospitals and doctors that I wanted to share with everyone.</p><p>Please bear in mind that I can only compare <strong>Japan</strong> with <strong>Germany</strong> as I have no experience with the medical care in other countries.<br /> Also, this article is completely based on my <strong>personal experience</strong>, so don&#8217;t take everything I say here as a fact.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">1. Medical Care:<br /> </span></p><p>First of all, health care in Japan seems so <strong>expensive</strong> to me! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(24).gif" alt="smilie" /><br /> The interesting thing about this is that most <strong>Americans</strong> I met say that health care in Japan is so cheap! So, I really guess it all depends on your home country in the end.</p><p>For somebody like me who has to visit the hospital quite often, it <strong><em>is</em></strong> expensive. <span style="font-size: medium;"><strong>PERIOD.</strong></span><br /> There are different kinds of health insurances &#8211; just like in any other country. I don&#8217;t want to go into details.<br /> Probably the most common (also among foreigners) is the &#8220;<strong>kokumin kenko hoken</strong>&#8221; (国民健康保険), the &#8220;<a href="http://www.city.mitaka.tokyo.jp/foreign/english/003/006.html" target="_blank">National Health Insurance</a>&#8220;, which will cover 70% of (most) of your medical bills.<br /> For me that means that I have to pay 30% of the bill every single time I go and see a doctor &#8211; and if it&#8217;s only to get a prescription.</p><p>In Germany your health insurance will usually cover 100% of everything (as long as it&#8217;s something that is really necessary from a medical point of view).</p><p>For my usual blood check, prescription and medicine I had to pay between <a class="about-tabs" title="September 15th, 2012: ~30-100€ / ~ 40-130$US. ">3000-10.000yen</a> whereas in Germany I would have gotten all of that for about 500yen. Can you see the huge difference?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">2. Hospitals:</span></p><p>When you are sick &#8211; and even if it&#8217;s just a cold, you usually go to a hospital.<br /> Yes, there are a few smaller clinics, but it&#8217;s very common to go to a hospital. That was very weird for me at first as in Germany we only go to the hospital for &#8220;bigger&#8221; examinations or if we&#8217;re <em>REALLY</em> sick!</p><p>The hospitals usually have a<strong> general reception</strong> (総受付) from where you&#8217;ll be sent to whichever section you need to go, e.g.:</p><ul class="link-overview"><li style="padding-left: 5px; text-align: left;">内科: naika &#8211; internal medicine</li><li style="padding-left: 5px; text-align: left;"><strong>外科: geka &#8211; surgery</strong></li><li style="padding-left: 5px; text-align: left;">皮膚科: hifuka &#8211; skin doctor</li><li style="padding-left: 5px; text-align: left;"><strong>婦人科: fujinka &#8211; gynecologist</strong></li><li style="padding-left: 5px; text-align: left;">耳鼻科: jibika &#8211; ENT department</li></ul><p>If you visit a hospital for the first time, you often have to pay more than usually (&#8220;introduction fee&#8221;) and fill out a lot of documents.<br /> Apart from your name and address you also have to fill out details about your health.<br /> Depending on which section you want to visit, you&#8217;ll get another document to fill out some related health information (e.g. about your period, pregnancy etc. if you want to go to the gynecologist).</p><p>After all the paper work you&#8217;ll receive a &#8220;<strong>patient card</strong>&#8221; that most of the time looks like a credit card with your name and patient number on it.<br /> In many hospitals there are <strong>ATM-like machines</strong> where you can put your card in and it will print out the information you need, so you won&#8217;t have to go to the reception anymore.</p><p>Next, you just sit and wait &#8230;. and wait &#8230;.. AND <strong>WAIT</strong>! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/j08.gif" alt="smilie" /><br /> Many hospitals have the policy that <strong>first-time visitors</strong> cannot make a previous reservation, so you end up waiting for many hours.<br /> Especially in smaller cities, the hospitals are always very busy so that you might have long waiting times despite your appointment.</p><p>Once your examination is over, you&#8217;ll get the prescription (if any) and the bill.<br /> With that you have to go to the &#8220;<strong>cashier</strong>&#8221; (会計) and wait again until they call your name and you can pay.<br /> Some hospitals also give out medicine, so you hand in your prescription and wait A.G.A.I.N.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In smaller <strong>clinics</strong> there&#8217;s no &#8220;cashier&#8221;. You just go back to the waiting room and wait until they call your name. You&#8217;ll receive your bill, prescription and pay.<br /> Usually you&#8217;ll have to get your medicine elsewhere, but a lot of clinics have pharmacies nearby!<br /> &nbsp;</p><p>All hospitals I&#8217;ve been to so far had a<strong> <em>LOT</em> </strong>of people waiting. They&#8217;re always busy!<br /> I&#8217;ve had waiting times of 3 hours. It&#8217;s really inconvenient for people who have to work every day.<br /> If you get sick during the weekend and need help immediately, you have to go to an emergency clinic (I did once).</p><p>All hospitals I&#8217;ve been to had <strong>vending machines</strong>, but some even had <strong>convenience stores</strong> inside the building! Almost all hospitals have huge <strong>flat screen TVs</strong>, so the patients can watch TV while waiting.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">3. Doctors:</span></p><p>Just like in any other country there are good and bad doctors, so I shouldn&#8217;t generalize too much, I guess.<br /> However, I&#8217;ve been to a lot of different doctors and I think I have yet to find a good one.<br /> The problem with Japanese doctors is that they let you do all the talking!<br /> If you don&#8217;t tell them what you want, what you think you have and what kind of examination you want, they won&#8217;t do anything.<br /> In Germany (and I&#8217;m sure in most Western countries) you go to the doctor, tell them what is wrong with you and they will take care of the rest.<br /> I mean, <strong>THEY</strong> are the ones who studied medicine in university after all, right?? Not us!!!</p><p>In Japan, they leave it up to us patients who don&#8217;t know anything about medicine.<br /> Even some Japanese people I talked to about this topic said they don&#8217;t like that about the Japanese medical system.</p><p>I had skin doctors look at my skin problems from far away, literally throwing some random medicine at me without ever checking properly what was wrong.<br /> At first, I thought, it might be because I&#8217;m a foreigner (e.g. that they don&#8217;t want to touch me), but I heard that they treat Japanese people exactly the same way.<br /> With some doctors you have to <strong>be really persistent</strong> and tell them exactly what you want them to do.<br /> If you have no clue what&#8217;s wrong with you, that&#8217;s a difficult task, though. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(9).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p>Well, if you have just a cold, it probably doesn&#8217;t matter, but if you&#8217;re really sick, it can become dangerous!</p><p>And I&#8217;m not the only one who thinks so! (&#8220;<a href="http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2010/08/how-not-to-get-diagnosis-at-doctor.html" target="_blank">How NOT to get a diagnosis at the doctor</a>&#8220;)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">4. Nurses:</span></p><p>One thing that is also different from my home country is that you&#8217;re never alone with the doctor!<br /> There are always a few nurses around as well. Even when at the gyno, there are a lot of other spectators (aka nurses) around. I hate that!! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(13).gif" alt="smilie" /> &#8230;<br /> You definitely have much <strong>less privacy</strong> in Japanese hospitals or clinics than what you&#8217;re probably used from back home.<br /> The nurses also approach you while you&#8217;re in the waiting room and ask you questions about your health that you definitely don&#8217;t want everybody else to hear (but they will)!</p><p>Apparently there have been issues in the past of gynos <strong>taking videos secretly</strong>.<br /> You wonder how that is possible? In Japan they use a stupid curtain between the patient and the gynecologist, so they can&#8217;t see each other.<br /> I usually open that curtain because I find it rather ridiculous.<br /> However, Japanese seem to be so ashamed, that they don&#8217;t want to see the face of the doctor while being examined.<br /> With nurses around the risk of secret videos is lower, I guess.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">5. Dentists:</span></p><p>Dentists are yet a different story and maybe an experience you don&#8217;t necessarily want to make.<br /> I go to the dentist at least once a year for a general check-up.<br /> Again I can only compare it to dentist clinics back home, but I can&#8217;t imagine that things are so different in other Western countries.<br /> In Germany there&#8217;s one room with one chair for the patient. You are alone with the doctor and one assistant and they&#8217;re solely concentrating on you until everything is finished.</p><p>In Japan, on the other hand, there are many chairs in one room. You can look into the mouth of other patients while passing by. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(14).gif" alt="smilie" /><br /> The doctor jumps from one patient to another quickly, so I really doubt it&#8217;s all as disinfected as it should be &#8230;.<br /> You can not only hear, but see what happens to other patients &#8230; and they can also watch you while you sit there with your mouth wide open.</p><p>My teeth are still in good condition, but I have the feeling they need special care ever since I moved to Japan.<br /> Japanese sink water has (almost?) no fluoride and there aren&#8217;t that many toothpastes with fluoride either! I also noticed that my teeth get stains more easily here in Japan.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">6. Medicine:</span></p><p>Prescribed medicine often comes in small paper bags with your name on it and the basic necessary information (how much you have to take / how many times a day).<br /> In Germany you&#8217;ll just buy the whole package of pills &#8211; no matter if you actually need all of them or not.<br /> In Japan they will give you only the amount of medicine you really need. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(29).gif" alt="smilie" /><br /> So, if the doctor decided that your cold will be cured in 5 days, you&#8217;ll get medicine for about 5 days and that&#8217;s it.<br /> It&#8217;s a very economic system &#8211; at first sight!<br /> They often have each and every pill (or powder) wrapped individually which causes more garbage than necessary.<br /> With the medicine you usually get <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/random/medicine_description.jpg" target="_blank">a printout</a> with a photo of the medicine and a description (side effects, what kind of medicine it is and what it&#8217;s for etc.)</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/random/medicine.jpg" alt="Japanese medicine" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">7. Language:</span></p><p>Apparently you&#8217;ll find some foreign and thus English speaking doctors in bigger cities, but I wouldn&#8217;t know any details as I&#8217;ve never been to a foreign doctor in Japan.<br /> From the start I&#8217;ve only visited Japanese doctors who could speak Japanese only!<br /> At first it was difficult, of course. Before going I always made a <strong>list with necessary vocabulary</strong>.<br /> Some doctors I met even spoke a little bit of <strong>German</strong>!<br /> Do you know why you&#8217;ll find (esp. among older doctors) so many who can speak / understand medical terms in German?<br /> That&#8217;s because Japan got a lot of their medical knowledge from German doctors!<br /> Well, that&#8217;s another topic, but that&#8217;s why you&#8217;ll find so many <strong>katakana terms</strong> in Japanese hospitals that you won&#8217;t understand unless you&#8217;re German (or Japanese, of course).<br /> Many Japanese people don&#8217;t even know that those are German and not English words!</p><p><strong>Examples:</strong><br /> レントゲン &#8211; Roentgen &#8211; x-ray<br /> カルテ &#8211; (Kranken)Karte &#8211; patient&#8217;s card<br /> メス &#8211; Messer (Skalpell) &#8211; scalpel</p><p>It seems that a lot of doctors used to write in German when taking their notes so that the patients wouldn&#8217;t know what was being written.<br /> Apparently psychiatrists used to do that often. I doubt it&#8217;s still very common nowadays. I see my doctors write in ugly characters that look like they could be Japanese &#8211; and I guess their secret is that their handwriting is so bad that the patient won&#8217;t be able to read it! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(23).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;">8. Conclusion:</span></p><p>As you can probably tell I&#8217;m not really a fan of the Japanese medical system.<br /> The German system is far from being perfect and it seems to change for the worse continuously, but I still prefer that to the Japanese one.<br /> Actually the medical system in Japan is <em><strong>one reason</strong></em> why I decided not to stay in Japan forever.<br /> When I grow older and might have more severe health issues, I really wouldn&#8217;t feel that I&#8217;m &#8220;in good hands&#8221; here in Japan. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(26).gif" alt="smilies" /></p><p>Also, since moving from the countryside to a place that&#8217;s even more out in the boonies, I&#8217;ve had problems getting my medicine.<br /> It&#8217;s really annoying, costs a lot of time and money!<br /> If you have any kind of sickness or have to visit the hospital often, then I highly recommend that you don&#8217;t move to a smaller city!<br /> At least make sure that you have a <strong>bigger city</strong> with some <strong>big hospitals</strong> nearby!</p><p>Again, please bear in mind that this is only <em>my own experience</em>.<br /> You don&#8217;t have to worry about your health care. Japan <strong><em>is</em></strong> a highly developed country.<br /> I&#8217;m well aware that there are many countries that could only dream of a health care like this!</p><p>I&#8217;d love to know if living in a big city (e.g. Tokyo, Osaka) and visiting REALLY big hospitals is a different thing.<br /> Anybody cares to share their experience?<br /> I&#8217;d love to hear about other people&#8217;s experience with hospitals and doctors in Japan!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-20px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="6610152129";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div><p>&nbsp;<br /> <strong>P.S.:</strong> I actually wrote this article while sitting in the hospital! *g*<br /> Somehow you need to spent all that waiting time in a useful way, right?</p><p>Thanks for reading! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(5).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -45px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div> ]]></content:encoded> <wfw:commentRss>http://zoomingjapan.com/life-in-japan/hospitals-and-medical-care/feed/</wfw:commentRss> <slash:comments>21</slash:comments> </item> <item><title>Crater Lake Yugama, Mt. Shirane</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/favorite-photos/crater-lake-yugama/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/favorite-photos/crater-lake-yugama/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Thu, 20 Sep 2012 15:18:03 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Favorite Photos]]></category> <category><![CDATA[gunma]]></category> <category><![CDATA[kanto]]></category> <category><![CDATA[volcanos]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=680</guid> <description><![CDATA[As some of you might know I had a great time during my summer vacation. I visited various places, but today I want to share one of my highlights with you! Favorite Photo #4: Crater Lake Yugama *Click to enlarge What you see in the photo is one of the three crater lakes of the [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>As some of you might know I had a great time during my summer vacation.<br /> I visited various places, but today I want to share one of my highlights with you!</p><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Favorite Photo #4: Crater Lake Yugama</strong></span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/favorite/IMGP5333-big.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/favorite/IMGP5333.jpg" alt="Crater Lake Yugama, Mt. Shirane, Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture" /></a></p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size: 11px;">*Click to enlarge</span></p><p>What you see in the photo is one of the three crater lakes of the volcano <strong>Mt. Shirane</strong> (白根山).<br /> It is a 2160m active volcano in Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture. It&#8217;s called <strong>Kusatsu Shirane</strong> (草津白根山) to avoid confusion with <strong>Mt. Nikko Shirane</strong> (日光白根山) on the other side of Gunma Prefecture.</p><p>&#8220;<strong>Yugama</strong>&#8221; (湯釜, lit.: hot water pot) is the largest of Mt. Shirane&#8217;s crater lakes and looks stunning with its turquoise color and with rafts of yellow sulfur floating on its surface. The caldera lake measures 300m in diameter and 30m in depth and the water temperature is approximately 18°C.<br /> Because of its very high acid level of about PH1.0, plants cannot grow around this lake.</p><p>You can easily access &#8220;Yugama&#8221; by bus from Kusatsu&#8217;s bus terminal and then hike up for about 20 minutes. It&#8217;s an easy hike!</p><table style="border-top: 1px solid #cccccc; border-bottom: 1px solid #cccccc;" width="280px" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="3"><tbody><tr><td><p style="border: 0px solid #cccccc; background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% #ffffff; padding: 6px; width: 280px; text-align: center; margin-right: 20px;"><span style="color: #ed4866;"><strong>Important visitor&#8217;s note:</strong></span><br /> Hiking is only possible from mid April to early November!</p></td><td><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="7885026093";google_ad_width=234;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></td></tr></tbody></table><p>It&#8217;s a stunning sight &#8211; a lot more breathtaking than any photo can express!<br /> The nearby <strong>Kusatsu Onsen Resort</strong> is also totally worth a visit. You can easily do both as a day trip if you are already in Gunma Prefecture.<br /> Stay tuned for my blog post about Kusatsu where I hopefully can show you the real beauty of Kusatsu! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(29).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p>Thanks for reading. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(5).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -45px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div> ]]></content:encoded> <wfw:commentRss>http://zoomingjapan.com/favorite-photos/crater-lake-yugama/feed/</wfw:commentRss> <slash:comments>5</slash:comments> </item> <item><title>Ishinomaki: Tsunami 2011 Devastation</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/ishinomaki-tsunami-devastation/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/ishinomaki-tsunami-devastation/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Mon, 17 Sep 2012 07:10:44 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Travel]]></category> <category><![CDATA[miyagi]]></category> <category><![CDATA[tohoku]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=676</guid> <description><![CDATA[In order to access Tashirojima (Cat Island) you have to take a ferry from Ishinomaki &#8230; and that&#8217;s how I ended up there. Originally I had no intention to do any sightseeing or take photos there, but when I saw how badly the city had been destroyed by the tsunami I was so sad and [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>In order to access <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/" target="_blank">Tashirojima (Cat Island)</a> you have to take a ferry from Ishinomaki &#8230; and that&#8217;s how I ended up there.<br /> Originally I had no intention to do any sightseeing or take photos there, but when I saw how badly the city had been <strong>destroyed</strong> by the <strong>tsunami</strong> I was so sad and shocked. I also wanted to show others how some parts of Japan look after over a year (May 2012) since the tsunami and earthquake hit Japan in March 2011.</p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-20px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="6610152129";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Visited:</strong> May 1st 2012</span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP0986.jpg" alt="Damage caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 in Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki" /></p><p>Ishinomaki City (石巻市) is a city in Miyagi Prefecture, not too far from <a class="about-tabs" title="By local train it will take about 100 minutes to get from Sendai to Ishinomaki - and about 80 min. from Matsuhima!">Sendai</a>.<br /> Compared to other spots in Japan I guess it&#8217;s not a major tourist spot at all. One more reason to share my travel log with you!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP0988.jpg" alt="Damage caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 in Miyagi Prefecture, Ishinomaki" /></p><p>Almost everywhere in <strong>Miyagi Prefecture</strong> you can still see the damage that the <strong>Great Tohoku Earthquake 2011</strong> caused.<br /> Some of the cities near the coast in Miyagi Prefecture have not only been damaged by the earthquake, but also been severely devastated by tsunami waves. Ishinomaki City <a href="http://youtu.be/NTSutt435RE" target="_blank">was one of them</a>.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP0989.jpg" alt="Damage caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 in Miyagi Prefecture, Furukawa" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP0996.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>My hotel &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="If possible I always stay in one of the hotels of this hotel chain. I can highly recommend them!" href="http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/" target="_blank">Toyoko Inn</a>&#8221; was in <strong>Furukawa</strong> and while there wasn&#8217;t any damage due to the tsunami, the earthquake destroyed a lot. Even the hotel was still undergoing reconstruction work.</p><p>From Furukawa it takes about 80 minutes to get to Ishinomaki.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP0997.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>The view from the 2nd floor within <strong>JR Ishinomaki Station</strong>.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP0999.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>You will run into characters of the famous manga artist <a class="about-tabs" title="A manga artist born in Miyagi Prefecture, famous for series such as Cyborg 009, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, Kamen Rider.">Shotaro Ishinomori</a>. His mentor was <a class="about-tabs" title="He's often called the 'Godfather of Anime' and is famous for Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Black Jack etc.">Osamu Tezuka</a>!<br /> The cute cat-shaped buildings in my last post about <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/" target="_blank">Tashirojima &#8211; Cat Island</a> were designed by Mr. Ishinomori!</p><table width="600" border="0" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="3"><tr><td><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1004.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" width="400" height="606" /></td><td><script type="text/javascript"><!--
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src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"></script></td></tr></table><p>While Ishinomaki doesn&#8217;t have to offer that much in terms of tourist spots, I guess for fans of Shotaro Ishinomori&#8217;s series such as Cyborg 009, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger or Kamen Rider, it&#8217;s definitely worth a visit.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1029.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1039.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>The station and everything around it is full of his characters.<br /> There were only a few <strong>coin lockers</strong> in the station building. There were some bigger ones a few meters away, outside of the station, too!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1014.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>JR Ishinomaki Station is very colorful!<br /> In <span style="color: #d8265f;"><strong>pink</strong> </span>letters it says: &#8220;がんばろう!石巻&#8221; (Hang in there, Ishinomaki!!)</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1022.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>A few meters away from the station, you&#8217;ll find this huge &#8220;<strong>Manga Map</strong>&#8221; that shows all the spots of interests for Mr. Ishinomori&#8217;s fans. While some of the characters look familiar, I have to admit that I don&#8217;t know any of his series. How about you?</p><p>On the left you can see a small sign that says &#8220;coin lockers&#8221;. That&#8217;s where you can find the bigger coin lockers I mentioned earlier.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1032.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Ishinomaki Station is quite small. You can even see the trains from outside of the station!<br /> Even here you&#8217;ll run into colorful manga pictures.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1034.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2387.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>On the left you see from where I took the previous railway photo. This is a really nice café. You can access the train platforms from there as well!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1027.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2384.jpg" alt="JR Ishinomaki Station, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Even the mailbox in front of the station features some characters!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1045.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki Manga Road, Ishinomori, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>This map shows you the &#8220;<strong>Ishinomaki Manga Road</strong>&#8220;. It displays all the spots where manga figures and statues are located.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP1041.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /></p><p>The area map in front of the station mentioned <strong>Manga Island </strong>where you can see the cute cat-shaped buildings I posted in <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/" target="_blank">my last entry</a>. Not surprising as &#8220;Tashirojima&#8221; officially belongs to Ishinomaki City.</p><p>Instead of getting off at Tashirojima, you could go all the way to &#8220;<strong>Ajishima</strong>&#8221; (網地島) where you&#8217;ll find beautiful <strong>beaches</strong>!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2072.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I took all the photos you saw so far in the morning before taking the ferry to &#8220;<strong>Cat Island</strong>&#8220;. Up until then I didn&#8217;t even notice that Ishinomaki was damaged that badly. I think that was partly because it was really foggy in the morning, so I couldn&#8217;t see much.</p><p>However, once I came back from Tashirojima in the afternoon and the weather was clearer, I saw how severely the coastal area had been devastated.<br /> Even one year later they were still cleaning up the mess!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2084.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>After coming back from Cat Island I decided to save my money and walk back to the station instead of taking a bus or taxi. It should have been a very short walk, but &#8230; I didn&#8217;t expect to see so much destruction.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2081.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I knew that the coastal area was hit by the tsunami, but that was over a year ago, so I surely didn&#8217;t expect to see what I got to see.<br /> No matter where I looked, there was a lot of empty space. The houses that once stood there were simply washed away by the high tsunami waves.</p><p>All &#8211; completely &#8211; gone! <img src='http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(9).gif' alt=':(' class='wp-smiley' /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2085.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I was very shocked. I kept standing there for a long time &#8230;. looking at the empty spots where once houses stood &#8230;. and the piles of garbage, &#8230; belongings of people &#8230; who might not even be alive anymore.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2092.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I felt extremely sad. By seeing this right before my eyes, it became obvious to me just <em><strong>HOW</strong></em> destructive the tsunami must have been &#8230;. and that the people living there didn&#8217;t have the slightest chance to run away from it &#8230;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2099.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2106.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Laundry, dishes &#8230; everything was still left the way it was.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2103.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>It felt like I was in the atomic bomb museum of Hiroshima or Nagasaki &#8230; where even the clocks stopped when the bomb hit &#8230;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2102.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2205.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>The sign you see in the right photo was in the 3rd floor. I think that shows well how high the tsunami must have been.</p><p>At first I wasn&#8217;t sure if it was ok to take photos (morally, not legally!<img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(26).gif" alt="smilie" />) &#8230;. I didn&#8217;t feel good about it. I felt like a nasty tourist who came all the way just to stare at the miserable situation of others and then take photos of it.</p><p>But as this wasn&#8217;t the case &#8230;.. and because I <em>REALLY</em> wanted to share my experience with others &#8230; I figured it would be ok.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2110.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>All the houses that are still standing are deserted. All belongings are still inside, too.<br /> I fear that&#8217;s because the people who lived there haven&#8217;t survived &#8230; <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(10).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2112.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2115.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>The front door was pushed in by the strength of the waves. There were broken bits of glass everywhere.<br /> It looks like the bathtub came falling down from the second floor.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2113.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>The bicycle also didn&#8217;t survive the tsunami it seems! :/ &#8230;.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2119.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>This area was completely washed away. It seems only the houses that were close to the mountains were protected.<br /> Isn&#8217;t this just a horrible image? Doesn&#8217;t it look like the tsunami just hit a few hours ago??? But actually it was <strong>14 months(!!!!) ago</strong>!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2122.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I suppose it&#8217;s dangerous to go in there. It looks like the ceiling is coming down any second.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2127.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I&#8217;m sure that you&#8217;ve seen on TV that even big ships were swept away by the strong tsunami. In Ishinomaki there were still a few ships stuck on the mainland.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2143.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Although I was not on Cat Island anymore, I ran into this adorable cat. ^-^<br /> It kept meowing. It was as if it was telling me what happened here last year. The cat also looked a bit battered. I bet the cat had gone through a lot, too!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2152.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I was actually surprised that there was no barrier or at least a rope and a sign saying: &#8220;<em><strong>Danger! Don&#8217;t enter!</strong></em>&#8220;.</p><p>Anybody could just enter! I&#8217;m especially worried about kids going in there to play. A lot of those buildings looked like they&#8217;d fall apart soon!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2158.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Although the area was damaged so badly, you still could see and feel how beautiful it once was &#8230; and hopefully it can fully recover soon!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2162.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>There were so many deserted buildings and shops.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2172.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I don&#8217;t know the truth, but I suppose that the people living there either didn&#8217;t survive or simply have no money to start reconstruction work.<br /> Either way, it clearly shows that Tohoku still needs help &#8211; and if it&#8217;s just in form of <strong>tourists</strong> that <strong>bring</strong> some <strong>money</strong> back in!!!!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2178.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>ALL the buildings that were lined up in the first row right in front of the ocean got dramatically damaged.<br /> Some houses farther behind were a bit luckier. And maybe you can see that there&#8217;s a hill starting behind those buildings. Everything behind that hill was pretty much safe.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2182.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>This picture also shows well that mainly the &#8220;first row&#8221; buildings were destroyed.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2185.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Half of the building is missing. I suppose there were stairs up to the second floor and some area where you could walk and access those doors that now hang up in the air. Scary!! I wouldn&#8217;t want to park my car too close to that house. What if it collapses?</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2210.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Devastation no matter where you looked! And if you now think that I invaded somebody&#8217;s house, you&#8217;re wrong!<br /> I think you already saw that some houses had their windows burst and doors washed away.<br /> Thus you got to see what was inside the houses without actually going too close to them.<br /> I&#8217;m not sure what exactly that big thing in the background is, but it looks heavy.<br /> After breaking through doors and walls, the waves were obviously still strong enough to make this big thing fall!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2215.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>The parking lot was hit as well. Actually I&#8217;m surprised that it&#8217;s still standing. It&#8217;s probably stronger than it looks!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2228.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Despite all the devastation the people in Ishinomaki seemed to be happy. A lot of them thanked me for visiting. They told me that not many tourists had come since March 2011. Not only foreign tourists stayed away, but also Japanese.<br /> I think it&#8217;s slowly recovering, but we still need to spread the word!</p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size: large;">Ishinomaki needs our support!</span></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2197.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki, Ishinomori Manga Museum, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>This is the <a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 9-18 (entrance until 17:30). Closed: 3rd Tue of each month (Mar-Nov); every Tue (Dec-Feb). Admission: 800yen">Ishinomori Manga Museum</a> (石ノ森萬画館) dedicated to the manga works of <strong>Shotaro Ishinomori</strong> whose characters are spread throughout the whole city (see the photos I posted earlier of the station).</p><p>As the museum is situated right next to the Pacific Ocean it was damaged by the tsunami as well and thus had to close its doors.<br /> Reconstruction work was still going on when I visited.<br /> As I&#8217;m writing this the facility is still closed. Please check the <a href="http://www.man-bow.com/manga/" target="_blank">official website</a> for further information (Japanese only).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2234.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki, Ishinomori Manga Museum, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>In front of the museum they were advertising for &#8220;<strong>Manga Island</strong>&#8221; on Tashirojima where the <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/">cat-shaped buildings</a> can be found.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2235.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki, Ishinomori Manga Museum, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>I found this hilarious! It says &#8220;<em>Dumbass, don&#8217;t freaking park your car here!</em>&#8221;</p><p>It uses very rude Japanese, but in smaller letters (on the very left) it&#8217;s written one more time in more polite Japanese. Typical! *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2254.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /></p><p>As it was Golden Week you could find the colorful carp flags everywhere &#8211; even around the damaged manga museum!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2239.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2191.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /></p><p>Actually they hosted a Kids Day Event at the museum last year in May &#8211; right after the disaster &#8211; to cheer the children up!</p><p>Near the manga museum was a bridge that was also destroyed. Cute construction work markers in form of monkeys were set up. I love how everything is always so cute!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2243.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>The beautiful background makes you almost forget about the horrible things that have happened, but the little destroyed house in the center reminds you of it again &#8230;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2245.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki damaged by tsunami 2011, Miyagi Prefecture" /></p><p>Another boat that was washed ashore and hasn&#8217;t been removed yet.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2265.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /></p><p>I had to leave the coastal area in order to get to the station and ran straight into this awesome graffiti wall! Usually you don&#8217;t see graffiti very often in Japan. Clearly this one wasn&#8217;t done illegally! Some nice piece of art!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2271.jpg" alt="Manhole cover Ishinomaki" /></p><p>As you know I always take photos of the <strong>manhole covers</strong> of every city I visit.<br /> Ishinomaki has by far the most colorful and beautiful ones I&#8217;ve seen in a long time!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2368.jpg" alt="Manhole cover Ishinomaki" /></p><p>The damage caused by the earthquake can still be seen everywhere on the streets. As it isn&#8217;t anything major they haven&#8217;t repaired it yet.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2298.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2293.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /></p><p>As soon as you leave the coastal area you won&#8217;t notice any major damage anymore.<br /> The tsunami also reached the areas here, but I suppose the damage wasn&#8217;t as bad, so it was easier to repair things.</p><p>From here you walk through a shopping district to the station and Mr. Ishinomori&#8217;s figures are greeting you at every corner.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2273.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2283.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /></p><p>The one on the right looks like it&#8217;s watching out for something bad / scary to come. It was staring in the direction of the ocean. Considering what happened a year before &#8230; it&#8217;s kind of sad, don&#8217;t you think?</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2301.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga, Ishinomori" /></p><p>Many other famous manga / anime artists came to visit Ishinomaki in the past few years. Do you recognize any of the characters, series or artists? ^^</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2299.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga, Ishinomori" /></p><p>I guess Lupin is the most famous among all of them?!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2302.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /></p><p>Random, but cute! You know I would have expected to see such a thing on Cat Island rather than here in Ishinomaki! *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2347.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2332.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /></p><p>The characters of Cyborg 009 were standing in front of shops, banks and post offices.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2336.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2369.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga figures, Ishinomori" /></p><p>Every few meters you ran into another one!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2364.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki manga, Ishinomori" /></p><p>The yellow letters say &#8220;漫画の国・いしのまき&#8221;: Land of Manga &#8211; Ishinomaki</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2320.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, ganbatte tohoku message" /></p><p>Apart from all the figures you could also see a lot of <em>&#8220;Hang in there, Ishinomaki!</em>&#8221; messages.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2321.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, ganbatte tohoku message" /></p><p>The messages on here came from all over Japan. Here&#8217;s a close-up from the ones of <strong>Okayama</strong>!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/ishinomaki/IMGP2350.jpg" alt="Ishinomaki City" /></p><p>Ishinomaki&#8217;s shopping arcade was very colorful and cute &#8230; and also decorated with Children&#8217;s Day carps.</p><p>After arriving at the station I checked out the <strong>tourist information</strong> building. There wasn&#8217;t much, but you could buy books or postcards, featuring photos of the destruction. The money will be used to rebuild Ishinomaki City! So, definitely go there and buy something! Even just one postcard can help! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/heart_70.gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p>I left Ishinomaki with mixed feelings. All in all I had a great time. I was able to FINALLY visit Cat Island and confirm with my own eyes that everything was (relatively) ok. And despite all the horrible things that have happened, the people in Ishinomaki keep living happily. They haven&#8217;t given up in the least! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(29).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p>My next stop was <strong>Akita Prefecture</strong> where I visited <strong>Akita City</strong> and <strong>Kakunodate</strong>! The latter being a very famous cherry blossom viewing spot.<br /> Next up: Akita City.</p><p>Thanks for reading. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(5).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -45px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div> ]]></content:encoded> <wfw:commentRss>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/ishinomaki-tsunami-devastation/feed/</wfw:commentRss> <slash:comments>7</slash:comments> </item> <item><title>Tashirojima &#8211; Cat Island</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Thu, 13 Sep 2012 15:04:34 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Travel]]></category> <category><![CDATA[cats]]></category> <category><![CDATA[islands]]></category> <category><![CDATA[miyagi]]></category> <category><![CDATA[tohoku]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=673</guid> <description><![CDATA[After leaving Yamagata Prefecture I headed to Miyagi Prefecture. Together with Fukushima this is the only prefecture that I had already visited before. So I have already been to some major tourist attractions there. This time I wanted to make a dream come true and so I visited &#8220;Tashirojima&#8221; &#8211; also known as &#8220;Cat Island&#8221;. [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>After leaving <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/tag/yamagata/" target="_blank">Yamagata Prefecture</a> I headed to Miyagi Prefecture.<br /> Together with <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/tag/fukushima/" target="_blank">Fukushima</a> this is the only prefecture that I had already visited before. So I have already been to some major tourist attractions there.<br /> This time I wanted to make a dream come true and so I visited &#8220;Tashirojima&#8221; &#8211; also known as &#8220;Cat Island&#8221;.</p><p>However, the island is in a region that was severely damaged by the <strong>Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011</strong>.<br /> It was really hard to find any detailed information about the island&#8217;s condition post-disaster.</p><p>There was only <strong>one way</strong> to find out! I had to go myself to get some <strong>first-hand information</strong>!<br /> Now I can finally provide some valid information in English for anybody who is interested in visiting! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(29).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p>Now, before we start some of you are probably wondering what the heck this &#8220;<strong><em>Cat Island</em></strong>&#8221; is and why you should visit! So, let&#8217;s clarify this first! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(15).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-20px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="6610152129";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>History of Tashirojima:</h2><p>Tashirojima (田代島) is a small island and belongs to <strong>Ishinomaki City</strong> in Miyagi Prefecture.<br /> Nowadays it&#8217;s also known as &#8220;Cat Island&#8221; (猫島 or 猫の島). That&#8217;s because there are more cats than human residents!<br /> On top of that the majority of the (human) population is over 65 years old! There aren&#8217;t many young people. The only elementary school had to close down in 1989. To make the island more attractive for younger people the city decided to make a <strong>tourist attraction</strong> out of it.<br /> The only thing that the island had to offer were all the cats &#8230;. and there we go!<br /> It was promoted on TV as &#8220;<strong>Cat Island</strong>&#8221; and became very popular among cat lovers.</p><p>But how come there are so many cats on an island that can only be reached by ferry?<br /> Today the island&#8217;s main industry is <strong>fishing</strong>. However, during the late Edo Period (江戸時代, 1603-1868) <strong>silkworms</strong> for making silk were raised on the island. As <strong>mice</strong> are a natural enemy of silkworms and became a real pest, the residents depended on cats to get rid of the problem.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1982.jpg" alt="Cat on Cat Island, Tashirojima, Japan" /></p><p>Later fishermen populated the island and fed the cats, observing their behavior to predict storms and other odd weather situations. Cats were seen as bringers of good luck! A <strong>cat shrine</strong> has been built on the island and dogs or any other animal that could harm the cats are not allowed to come to the island!</p><h3></h3><h3>Why should I visit?</h3><p>Well, I hope that after reading through this post, you&#8217;ll have enough motivation to visit? ^-^;<br /> As a <strong>cat lover</strong> it&#8217;s just a must-see! You might be disappointed that there aren&#8217;t as many cats as you thought.<br /> Yes, there are many <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/tag/cats/" target="_blank">other spots</a> in Japan where you can run into cats, but not on small, isolated islands!<br /> And don&#8217;t you want to see the cats that survived the tsunami?<br /> After all, for a few days people all over the world (even in Japan) thought that the whole island was gone (washed away by the tsunami).<br /> If you haven&#8217;t watched the movies &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="A story about Droopy-Eared Jack (Tare Mimi Jack, たれ耳ジャック), one of the cats on the island.">Nyanko</a>&#8221; (にゃんこ) yet, then maybe you should &#8211; and if it&#8217;s just for the neko cuteness. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(4).gif" alt="smilie" /><br /> What made me personally want to go even more are the <strong>Tofugu</strong> videos (<a href="http://youtu.be/qVxpPggJMAY" target="_blank">Part 1</a> / <a href="http://youtu.be/q27fQ-mcM10" target="_blank">Part 2</a>) that were taken pre-tsunami.</p><p style="text-align: right;"><span style="font-size: large;">Enjoy and please spread the word! </span> <img class="alignright" src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/hearts_beating.gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Visited:</strong> May 1st 2012</span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1051.jpg" alt="Ajishima Line Ferry Terminal, Ishinomaki, Tashirojima, Cat Island" width="600" height="400" /></p><p>You can access Tashirojima only by ferry. The ferry terminal is in <a class="about-tabs" title="The city was severely damaged by the tsunami. I will write about this in detail with lots of photos in my next entry.">Ishinomaki City</a> in Miyagi Prefecture.<br /> You can access <strong>JR Ishinomaki Station</strong> by local train coming from <strong>Sendai</strong>. From Tokyo you can take a Shinkansen to Sendai first and then take a local train to Ishinomaki. Check the timetable and fare with <a href="http://www.hyperdia.com/" target="_blank">Hyperdia</a>.</p><p>From Ishinomaki Station you can take a <a class="about-tabs" title="Bus takes about 17min. and costs 240yen one-way. To catch the 9am ferry, take the bus that leaves at 8:30am.">bus</a> that leaves in front of the station.<br /> You can also take a <a class="about-tabs" title="My taxi cost 1010yen, took about 15 minutes to get to the ferry terminal. The taxi driver told me a lot about last year's tsunami.">taxi</a> or &#8211; if you have enough time &#8211; walk. Walking would take about 30-40 minutes.<br /> <span style="font-size: x-small;">(*Hover over the means of transportation to get more information. Note that the information on the official Tashirojima website is not up to date anymore, but mine is &#8211; May 2012!)</span></p><p>The <strong>timetable</strong> changes fairly often, so you need to check the <a href="http://www12.ocn.ne.jp/~ajishima/" target="_blank">Ajishima Line (網地島ライン) homepage</a>! It&#8217;s all in Japanese, so if you need any help, please don&#8217;t hesitate to ask me! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(5).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p>The ferry terminal has small <strong>coin lockers</strong> and a <strong>toilet</strong>. The ferry also has a toilet.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1052.jpg" alt="Ajishima Line Ferry Terminal, Ishinomaki, Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>There are different types of ferries. The cutest one is the one with the mermaid on it.<br /> As you can see the ferry is quite small.</p><p>The trip to Tashirojima takes about 40 minutes.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1085.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>There are two ports in Tashirojima (田代島) where you can get off:<br /> Coming from Ishinomaki the ferry will first stop at <strong>Odomari</strong> (大泊), but I highly recommend you get off at the second stop (roughly 8 minutes later): <strong>Nitoda</strong>, (仁斗田).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1153.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>We arrived at Nitoda (仁斗田) Port around 10am.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1148.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island, damage through tsunami 2011" /></p><p>The first thing I saw was the big pile of garbage.<br /> Ishinomaki as well as Tashirojima got damaged badly due to the tsunami caused by the big earthquake in March 2011.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1186.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island, damage through tsunami 2011" /></p><p>All the small fishermen sheds and everything else that was nearby got completely destroyed by 10m high tsunami waves!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1271.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island, damage through tsunami 2011" /></p><p>Even a year later &#8211; in May 2012 &#8211; they haven&#8217;t been able to get everything back to normal. Ishinomaki looks much worse, you&#8217;ll see that in my next blog post!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1167.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island, damage through tsunami 2011" /></p><p>Most cats and the people survived the tsunami. The majority of the houses are at a higher altitude (as you&#8217;ll see later in this post), so the tsunami couldn&#8217;t reach them.<br /> The <a href="http://youtu.be/5f-6XXgGe6s" target="_blank">cats were extremely disturbed</a> prior to the big earthquake and tsunami. I&#8217;m sure they could feel something was wrong.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1181.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1183.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>The port area is currently not as beautiful as it used to be due to all the garbage around, but they made the best out of it.</p><p><strong>Note:</strong> On the cat-shaped sign they&#8217;re thanking all the visitors who are coming even after the disaster.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1208.jpg" alt="Nitoda Port, Tashirojima, Cat Island" width="600" height="400" /></p><p>As mentioned earlier the fishermen are really fond of the cats and consider them as good-luck charms, so they feed them with fish they caught.<br /> As dogs are not allowed it&#8217;s a true paradise for the cats!</p><p>Speaking of cats &#8230;.. where were they? &#8230;.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1190.jpg" alt="Cats on Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>After walking for about 5 minutes, I was still in the port area. There I ran into the first one that was hiding under a small construction work crane.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1206.jpg" alt="Cats on Tashirojima, Cat Island" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1213.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>It was a very short encounter, though, as it was hiding quickly. The funny thing was that it took a while until the cat got its body through the hole. Quite an amusing sight!<br /> From the port you can easily access &#8220;<strong>Manga Island</strong>&#8221; and from there the &#8220;<strong>Cat Shrine</strong>&#8220;.</p><p>While the cat shrine is between Nitoda and Odomari, Manga Island is very close to Nitoda Port &#8211; which is why I recommend to get off the ferry there!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1220.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>On my way to &#8220;Manga Island&#8221; I ran into a few cats &#8230; and this magnificent cat statue!!!<br /> It was created by students of the &#8220;Tokyo University of Arts&#8221; in 2010.<br /> It was HUGE and as you can see it consisted of many smaller cats! A brilliant idea!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1300.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p><strong>Manga Island</strong> is on a hill, so you&#8217;ll hike up a little. It&#8217;s a very pleasant way up!<br /> Maybe now you can understand why everybody was safe! Most of the residents&#8217; houses are on hills that are higher than 10m above sea level!<br /> The view from up there was breathtaking!!!<br /> A little island &#8230; with more cats than people &#8230;. and with such an awesome view!!<br /> Doesn&#8217;t that sound like paradise???? I could totally imagine living there after retirement &#8230; but then again it&#8217;s a bit far away from everything ^-^; &#8230;.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1404.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>And then I finally reached &#8220;Manga Island&#8221; (マンガアイランド).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1885.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>But what is that so-called <strong>Manga Island</strong>? Didn&#8217;t I visit &#8220;<strong>Cat Island</strong>&#8220;? Are you confused now??<br /> Well, &#8220;Manga Island&#8221; is a small area on the top of a hill on Tashirojima (Cat Island).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1339.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>There are a few extremely cute buildings that look like cats.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1348.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>Those buildings were built in 2000 and are <strong>camping lodges</strong> that can be used from April to November. However at the time of my visit it wasn&#8217;t possible to book a stay there &#8211; I think it had to do with the damage by the tsunami.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1893.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>If you want to stay longer than just a few hours on Cat Island, then where else would you want to stay?? That&#8217;s your best choice!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1879.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>And what&#8217;s more is that you&#8217;ll get an awesome view from up there!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1906.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>The view <strong>ALONE</strong> is worth a visit &#8211; if you ask me.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1355.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>Those cute cat-shaped buildings were designed by the famous <a class="about-tabs" title="A manga artist born in Miyagi Prefecture, famous for series such as Cyborg 009, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, Kamen Rider.">Shotaro Ishinomori</a>. His mentor was <a class="about-tabs" title="He's often called the 'Godfather of Anime' and is famous for Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Black Jack etc.">Osamu Tezuka</a>!<br /> There&#8217;s the &#8220;<strong>Ishinomori Manga Museum</strong>&#8221; in Ishinomaki City &#8211; it was still closed due to damage by the time I visited, though.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1384.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>While the smaller red and white striped buildings are pretty much all the same, this one is unique!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1373.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1375.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>If you have a closer look at any of the buildings you&#8217;ll find so many cute details!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1341.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>Close-up of one of the cat buildings&#8217; doors.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1382.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1380.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>Behind the buildings there&#8217;s a small area where you can buy food, drinks and some souvenirs.<br /> At the time of my visit that was the only place where you could get something. They also <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP2030.jpg" target="_blank">mentioned</a> that it was the only place to get souvenirs.<br /> It is recommended that you <strong>bring your own food and drinks</strong>!</p><p>The people working there were really nice and <strong>young</strong>! I really expected to only see old people &#8230; and cats! *g* I had a nice chat with them.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1324.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1328.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Manga Island" /></p><p>Even the toilet there was cat-themed, featuring cat scribblings on the female toilet wall!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1432.jpg" alt="Cats on Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>From Manga Island you can continue walking towards the &#8220;<strong>Cat Shrine</strong>&#8220;.<br /> On my way I ran into a few more cats, of course!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1464.jpg" alt="Tashirojima Elementary School, Cat Island" /></p><p>This building used to be <strong>Tashirojima Elementary School</strong>. It was closed down in 1989 and turned into an educational center. The educational center closed in 2008. I guess that&#8217;s what happens when there are more cats than people and on top of that mostly older people.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1476.jpg" alt="Tashirojima Elementary School, Cat Island" /></p><p>Nobody was there when I visited, so I&#8217;m not sure if this building is still used at all, but it surely didn&#8217;t look like it!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1538.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Cat Shrine" /></p><p>And then I finally arrived at the <strong>Cat Shrine</strong> (猫神社)!<br /> The fishermen who grew fond of the cats a long time ago built that shrine.<br /> What happened is that one day a rock fell down and killed one of the cats. The fishermen decided to bury it and enshrined it there, praying that never ever something similar would happen again.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1534.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Cat Shrine" /></p><p>It&#8217;s a fairly small shrine, but you&#8217;ll find tons of cat related tiny items like those <a title="Maneki Neko figure" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/items/maneki-neko-figure/" target="_blank">Maneki Neko</a> statues.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1533.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Cat Shrine" /></p><p>Of course you can&#8217;t have a cat shrine without Hello Kitty! ^^</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1552.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Cat Shrine" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1536.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Cat Shrine" /></p><p>The sign on the left explains in greater detail about the cat that was hit by a rock in.<br /> The first sentence shows how much the residents of the island respect the cats of Tashirojima:</p><p>&#8220;島では皆から、猫は、大漁を招く縁起の良い生き物として親しまれ島民による奉られている。&#8221;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1581.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari Port" /></p><p>The cat shrine is between the two ports of Tashirojima. As I still had time, I figured I could as well visit the other port: <strong>Odomari</strong>.<br /> The characters next to the area map were created by the one who designed the cat buildings on Manga Island, <strong>Shotaro Ishinomori</strong>. They are characters from his series &#8220;<strong>Cyborg 009</strong>&#8220;.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1579.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari Port" /></p><p>This sign tells you where to seek shelter in case of a disaster. It looked pretty new, so I assume they put it up after the tsunami hit in 2011.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1593.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari" /></p><p>Apart from a beautiful view there&#8217;s not too much to see in Odomari, so if you&#8217;re short on time I suggest you go back after visiting the Cat Shrine!<br /> There was a small shrine right at the port area, though.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1590.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari" /></p><p>Even some parts of the shrine were damaged by the tsunami.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1606.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1629.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari" /></p><p>I was surprised to still see Tsubaki (椿, camellia) around that time of the year!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1618.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1624.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari" /></p><p>The shrine was really small and I could tell that almost nobody recently came here.<br /> I had it all for myself!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1630.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Odomari" /></p><p>A shoe in the sand. Although everybody survived the tsunami, houses were destroyed and belongings were washed away by the high waves.</p><p>As there wasn&#8217;t anything else to do I went back to <strong>Nitoda Port</strong>.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1678.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Nitoda, damage by tsunami 2011" /></p><p>This used to be a restroom. That&#8217;s all that&#8217;s left after the tsunami hit.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1685b.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Nitoda" /></p><p>This photo gives Cat Island a spooky atmosphere, especially considering what happened in March 2011.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1702.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>As I still had time I decided to go <strong><em>cat-hunting</em></strong>. I hadn&#8217;t seen so many cats yet, but I knew they HAD to be somewhere. And I was right! *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1745.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>Just a little <strong>advice</strong>: you might have more luck if you walk into some of the narrow side streets instead of staying on the main road!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1758.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>Most cats didn&#8217;t care that there were tourists coming from far away just to see them. Why should they?<br /> They did what they always do: sleeping, eating, chilling &#8230;</p><p>But that&#8217;s ok, that&#8217;s what we cat lovers want to see! ^-^</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1244.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>Others were busy cleaning themselves. They didn&#8217;t even bother that there were people taking photos of them.<br /> Well, some were shy and ran away, but most of them weren&#8217;t.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1762.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>I also passed by what usually is the only shop where you can purchase food or drinks, but at that time nobody was there.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1780.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>The residents have created little &#8220;apartments&#8221; for the cats everywhere, so they can live there without having to worry about anything.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1785.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>And you&#8217;ve probably started to wonder where the masses of cats are?<br /> Well, there definitely are a lot of cats, but you gotta find them! It&#8217;s not like there are so many that you will run into them at each and every corner!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1800.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>The horny cat. And it was really persistent!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1804.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>It didn&#8217;t give up, but the black cat kept running away! *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1822.jpg" alt="Cats of Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>A beautiful cat observing the others while chilling.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1915.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>If you now think that you&#8217;d only run into <strong>cats</strong> on <strong>Cat</strong> Island, then I have to disappoint you! ^-^;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1931.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>This was kind of hilarious. The sign tells you that they&#8217;re watching you, so you better don&#8217;t throw your garbage away &#8230; but the sign itself has been carelessly thrown away, hasn&#8217;t it? Seriously though, I think that might have fallen off due to the tsunami.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1935.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, damage by tsunami 2011" /></p><p>People are still constantly repairing all the damage caused by the tsunami everywhere in Japan, also here on Tashirojima.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1962.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP1953.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island" /></p><p>Tashirojima has a few smaller shrines on hills from where you have a great view of the ocean!<br /> If you have time, definitely climb up and enjoy it!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP2012.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Nitoda" /></p><p>And then I was back at the port to catch my ferry. A last encounter with one of the cats before I left.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/miyagi/tashirojima/IMGP2034.jpg" alt="Tashirojima, Cat Island, Nitoda" /></p><p>I left with the &#8220;Blue Liner&#8221; &#8211; the same ferry type I came with. I didn&#8217;t get to ride the cute mermaid ferry after all.</p><p>I was back in <strong>Ishinomaki City</strong> in the afternoon and decided to walk to the station when I noticed how badly the area had been <strong>damaged</strong> by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. I took a lot of photos and was<strong> sad</strong> as well as <strong>shocked</strong>!<br /> Stay tuned for that blog post!</p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -40px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div><p>Thanks for reading. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/chu02.gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: center; margin-top: -10px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="1762034011";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=15;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div> ]]></content:encoded> <wfw:commentRss>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/feed/</wfw:commentRss> <slash:comments>24</slash:comments> </item> <item><title>Yamagata Karamatsu Kannon-do and Bunshokan</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/karamatsu-kannondo-and-bunshokan/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/karamatsu-kannondo-and-bunshokan/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Mon, 10 Sep 2012 15:43:15 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Travel]]></category> <category><![CDATA[temples]]></category> <category><![CDATA[tohoku]]></category> <category><![CDATA[yamagata]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=670</guid> <description><![CDATA[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 Near JR Yamagata Station I got [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>After coming back from <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/yamadera" target="_blank">Yamadera</a>, I still had half the afternoon left, so I decided to explore Yamagata City a bit more.<br /> All I had seen so far was the great <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/yamagata-castle/" target="_blank">Kajou Park</a> and I was sure there was more to discover than just that!</p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-10px;"><script type="text/javascript"><!--
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src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"></script></div><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Visited:</strong> April 30th 2012</span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0658.jpg" alt="Suwa Shrine in Yamagata" /></p><p>Near JR Yamagata Station I got a <strong>rental bicycle</strong>, a map and had two things in mind that I wanted to see.<br /> However, on my way I came across a few other interesting things like the shrine in the photo above (<strong>Suwa Shrine</strong>, 諏訪神社), so I stopped several times.<br /> Walking or a rental bike are the best ways to explore a city!<br /> In this case most of the interesting sights were too far to walk, but close enough to access by bicycle.<br /> There was also a good bus system connecting the main attractions, but if you&#8217;re short on time you might be faster with a bike!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0676.jpg" alt="Suwa Shrine in Yamagata" /></p><p>I&#8217;m glad I stopped whenever I saw something that looked interesting.<br /> Though no national, cultural or historical important property some spots can be extremely beautiful / interesting nevertheless!<br /> Suwa Shrine was really spacious with a garden, two or three koi ponds and a few cherry blossom trees.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0686.jpg" alt="Ema of Suwa Shrine in Yamagata" /></p><p>The <a title="Ema: Wooden Wishing Plaques" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/wiki/ema/" target="_blank">ema</a> of Suwa Shrine.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0671.jpg" alt="cherry blossoms in Japan" /></p><p>Beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0689.jpg" alt="cute Japan" /></p><p>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.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0694.jpg" alt="Yamagata City" /></p><p>I totally didn&#8217;t expect to see a church there! At a second look I figured it is just a <a href="http://www.bellebrancher.jp/" target="_blank">&#8220;pseudo&#8221; chapel for weddings</a>. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/drops_01.gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0836.jpg" alt="Mamigasaki River Yamagata" /></p><p>It took quite some time, but when I finally hit the river (<strong>Mamigasaki River</strong>, 馬見ヶ崎川) I knew I wasn&#8217;t too far from where I wanted to go.<br /> I have to admit that it wasn&#8217;t a pleasant bike ride along the river as I had to bike on the main road with tons of cars around.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0722.jpg" alt="Mamigasaki River Yamagata" /></p><p>Once I was off the road I could finally enjoy the beautiful landscape!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0725.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0781.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /></p><p>And then I finally arrived at the &#8220;<strong>Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall</strong>&#8221; (唐松観音堂).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0747.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /></p><p>This kannon-do was founded in the style of a cliff-hanging structure just like <a class="about-tabs" title="I've been there MANY times and will definitely post about it. If you haven't been there yet, I highly recommend you visit!">Kiyomizu-dera</a> in Kyoto.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0746.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /></p><p>It was spring, but Tohoku is still pretty cold then, so even the statues had to wear warm clothes! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(23).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0758.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /></p><p>You can enter the Kannon Hall from here.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0757.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /></p><p>A close-up of the &#8220;wishing paper strips&#8221;.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0770.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /></p><p>The ceiling inside was really beautiful with all those pictures.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0772.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /></p><p>The interior of the Kannon Hall was quite small, so there wasn&#8217;t that much to see, but a few things were interesting.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0798.jpg" alt="Karamatsu Kannon-do Hall Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0808.jpg" alt="Japan's Biggest Imoni-kai Festival, gigantic pot in Yamagata" /></p><p>I left again to go to the huge pot that I already saw from far away when I was standing in the Kannon Hall.<br /> On the first Sunday in September Yamagata City holds &#8220;<strong>Japan&#8217;s Biggest Imoni-kai Festival</strong>&#8221; (日本一の芋煮会フェスティバル).<br /> In a <strong>gigantic pot</strong> (6m diameter) at the riverbed of Mamigasaki River the dish &#8221; imoni&#8221; (芋煮, stewed potatoes) is made for about 30000 people.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0962.jpg" alt="Yamagata City" /></p><p>I was on my bicycle again, this time I stopped by at &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 9:00-16:30. Closed: Every 1st + 3rd Mon (national holiday = open; next day closed). Dec. 29th-Jan. 3rd. Admission: free.">Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)</a>&#8221; (文翔館・山形県郷土館).<br /> 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 <strong>national treasure</strong>!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0909.jpg" alt="Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0868.jpg" alt="Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)" /></p><p>It was already closed when I arrived there, but the building and surrounding park were very beautiful.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0911.jpg" alt="Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)" /></p><p>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!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0918.jpg" alt="Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0896.jpg" alt="Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum)" /></p><p>A very colorful park!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0883.jpg" alt="cherry blossoms in Japan" /></p><p>There were also a lot of cherry blossoms and other flowers everywhere!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0900.jpg" alt="cherry blossoms in Japan" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0897.jpg" alt="cherry blossoms in Japan" /></p><p>The peak of the cherry blossoms was over and thus you could find more on the floor than on the trees.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0923.jpg" alt="Yamagata City Shrine, Onegai Ushi" /></p><p>Right behind the Bunshokan was a little shrine.<br /> In the photo above you see a so-called &#8220;<strong>Onegai Ushi</strong>&#8221; (お願い牛, lit.: ask-for-a-favor-cow) that you can find in many <strong>Tenjin</strong> (also: Tenmangu) Shrines.<br /> You&#8217;re supposed to touch the cow while praying.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0934.jpg" alt="Yamagata City Shrine" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0931.jpg" alt="Yamagata City Shrine" /></p><p>Besides the cow there were a few other statues of interest, too.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0938.jpg" alt="Yamagata City Shrine Ema" /></p><p>The <a title="Ema: Wooden Wishing Plaques" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/wiki/ema/" target="_blank">ema</a> of the shrine had a dragon displayed as 2012 is the year of the dragon.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The deadline for bringing the rental bike back came closer and so I rode back to the station.</p><p>I didn&#8217;t have time to see everything there was to see.<br /> There are some museums and a few more temples that sounded worth checking out.<br /> I can&#8217;t confirm if they&#8217;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:</p><p><strong>Sensho-ji (専称寺):</strong><br /> This temple enshrines the spirit of Yoshiaki Mogami&#8217;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.</p><p><strong>Bansho-ji (萬松寺): </strong><br /> This is a temple located on <strong>Mt. Chitose</strong>. It is told that Princess Akoya founded the temple about 1300 years ago. There are many legends related to this temple.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/IMGP0985.jpg" alt="Anime Coin Lockers in Sendai" /></p><p><span style="font-size: x-small;">Anime / Manga coin lockers at Sendai Station.</span></p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-20px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="6610152129";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div><p>In the evening I was already on my way to my hotel in <strong>Miyagi Prefecture</strong> (near Sendai).<br /> The next morning I got up very early to visit something I had been longing for &#8211; for the longest time: <strong>Cat Island &#8211; Tashirojima</strong>! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/kao_sparkle.gif" alt="smilie" /><br /> A small island full of cats &#8230; that also survived the<strong> Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami 2011</strong>!<br /> Stay tuned so that you won&#8217;t miss this highlight!</p><p>Thanks for reading. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/chu02.gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -45px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div> ]]></content:encoded> <wfw:commentRss>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/karamatsu-kannondo-and-bunshokan/feed/</wfw:commentRss> <slash:comments>13</slash:comments> </item> <item><title>Yamadera</title><link>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/yamadera/</link> <comments>http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/yamadera/#comments</comments> <pubDate>Fri, 07 Sep 2012 15:25:59 +0000</pubDate> <dc:creator>zoomingjapan</dc:creator> <category><![CDATA[Travel]]></category> <category><![CDATA[cherry blossoms]]></category> <category><![CDATA[temples]]></category> <category><![CDATA[tohoku]]></category> <category><![CDATA[yamagata]]></category><guid isPermaLink="false">http://zoomingjapan.com/?p=664</guid> <description><![CDATA[The second day of my Golden Week Vaction I also spent in Yamagata Prefecture. After exploring Yamagata Kajou Park and Kaminoyama on my first day, I was off to the famous Yamadera on my second day. Visited: April 30th 2012 JR Yamadera Station can be easily accessed by the &#8220;JR Senzan Line&#8221; from JR Yamagata [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>The second day of my <strong>Golden Week Vaction</strong> I also spent in Yamagata Prefecture.<br /> After exploring <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/yamagata-castle/" target="_blank">Yamagata Kajou Park</a> and <a href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/kaminoyama/" target="_blank">Kaminoyama</a> on my first day, I was off to the famous Yamadera on my second day.</p><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Visited:</strong> April 30th 2012</span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9897.jpg" alt="Yamadera JR Station" /></p><p>JR Yamadera Station can be easily accessed by the &#8220;<strong>JR Senzan Line</strong>&#8221; from JR Yamagata Station. It only takes about 15 minutes to go there!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0655.jpg" alt="JR Yamadera Station" /></p><p>From there you can either go back to Yamagata or to Sendai.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9896.jpg" alt="JR Yamadera Station" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9904.jpg" alt="Tama Chikara Konyaku Yamadera" /></p><p>In front of the station I already saw the first food stand that sold &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="A firmly chewy gelatin-like substance made from ground konjak aka devil's tongue roots. It's cooked in soy sauce.">Tama Konyaku</a>&#8220;. Yamadera is famous for &#8220;Chikara (strength) Konyaku&#8221; (力こんにやく).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0029.jpg" alt="Tama Chikara Konyaku Yamadera" /></p><p>Of course I also had to try them. You can eat them with mustard to give them more flavor. They&#8217;re hot and as it was pretty cold outside &#8211; it was just the right snack!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9901.jpg" alt="JR Yamadera Station" /></p><p>In front of Yamadera Station.<br /> From there it&#8217;s just a short walk to the entrance of the actual temple complex.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0487.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0442.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>You&#8217;ll cross that bridge and from there it&#8217;s not far anymore.</p><p>Spring is a good time to visit. The landscape is very colorful then.<br /> Autumn is also great to enjoy the awesome autumn colors.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0525.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>The area around the river is really beautiful.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0517.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>There are also a lot of souvenir shops along the small road leading to the entrance of the temple complex, so you won&#8217;t get bored. However, I suggest buying something on your way back or you&#8217;ll have to carry it around the whole time.</p><p>I&#8217;ve been wanting one of those umbrellas for the longest time. A pattern shows up when they get wet. There are also pink ones with cherry blossom patterns!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9957.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>In order to access the entrance gate you&#8217;ll have to hike up a few stairs.<br /> The first thing you&#8217;ll see is the <strong>Konpon-chudo</strong> (根本中堂). It&#8217;s the main hall of Yamadera.</p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-20px;"><script type="text/javascript">google_ad_client="ca-pub-9666349365126927";google_ad_slot="6610152129";google_ad_width=468;google_ad_height=60;</script><br /><script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js">/*<![CDATA[*/<p>/*]]>*/</script></div><p><strong>Hojusan Risshakuji Temple</strong> (宝珠<span style="color: #d22d44;"><strong></strong></span>立石<span style="color: #d22d44;"><strong></strong></span>) is the original name of Yamadera. Everybody just keeps calling it &#8220;Yamadera&#8221; (<span style="color: #d22d44;"><strong>山寺</strong></span>, lit.: mountain temple) because it&#8217;s easier, I guess.<br /> Risshakuji was established by Jikaku-daishi in 860 and it&#8217;s one of the leading sacred places in the Tohoku District. An eternal flame brought over from Kyoto&#8217;s <a class="about-tabs" title="I went there a few years ago and will post about it another time. Stay tuned and don't miss it! ^-^">Mt. Hiei</a> has been secured at this temple for more than 1100 years!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9959.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Some of the <a title="Ema: Wooden Wishing Plaques" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/wiki/ema/" target="_blank">ema</a> I spotted there.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9965.jpg" alt="nadebotoke, rubbing Buddha statue" /></p><p>This is a so-called <strong>nadebotoke</strong> (撫で仏, lit.: rubbing Buddha statue). People rub it for good health.<br /> You rub the body part of the statue that you want to be cured in your own body.<br /> The one in Yamadera is a &#8220;招福布袋尊&#8221; (Shou-fuku-hotei-son) which could be roughly translated as &#8220;good-luck-clothes-statue&#8221;&#8230;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9935.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Besides that big &#8220;nadebotoke&#8221; statue there were tons of other statues in various kinds of shapes and sizes.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9936.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9944.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>These tiny statues are called <strong>Onegai Jizou</strong> (お願い地蔵, lit.: asking-for-a-favor jizou). People can purchase them and then put them around the main Jizou statue.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9939.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9938.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>As you can see there were already A LOT of them!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9977.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9991.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>I guess people who came for serious praying will leave a lot of money behind!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP9967.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0475.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>On the left photo you can see the view you get when standing in the Konpon-chudo Hall.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0039.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0011.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>On the right you see a statue of &#8220;<strong>Matsuo Basho</strong>&#8221; (松尾 芭蕉), a haiku poet, who stayed in Yamadera for a while and composed a famous haiku there:</p><p><em>&#8220;The stillness &#8211; soaking into stones cicada&#8217;s cry.&#8221;</em></p><p>I also went to the <strong>Yamadera Basho Memorial Center </strong>after visiting Yamadera, but more about that later.</p><p>Next to the statue was a great treasure house called &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 8:30-17:00. Closed: December - March. Admission: 200yen">Jigoku Enma Treasure House</a>&#8220;.<br /> It only cost 200yen and it was VERY impressive in there. Unfortunately photos were not allowed.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0047.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Then it was finally time to enter Yamadera&#8217;s <a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 8:00-17:00. Closed: never. Admission: 300yen">upper area</a>.</p><p>I suggest getting some snacks, something to drink and using the toilet before you enter the area you have to pay for because beyond that point is no food stand or toilet anymore!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0067.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>After entering you&#8217;ll have a steep hike ahead of you with about 1000 stone steps, so it might be tough for a few people.<br /> Don&#8217;t worry, it won&#8217;t get boring, though! And you also won&#8217;t have to worry about your stamina! I stopped every few seconds to take photos!<br /> Doesn&#8217;t that stone in the photo above look like a cute face? ^-^;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0071.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>On your way up you&#8217;ll run into many smaller temple buildings like the one above.<br /> All of them are printed on a map that you&#8217;ll receive after paying the admission fee.<br /> This is the <a class="about-tabs" title="My pamphlet is all in Japanese, so I'm not sure if I should translate the names. This means roughly 'old woman's hall'...">Uba-do (姥堂)</a>.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0072.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Don&#8217;t just pass by, but have a closer look!<br /> You&#8217;ll find all sorts of toys, dolls and other things for children. This is to pray for lost children.<br /> The red &#8220;thing&#8221; hanging down from the top is a &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Famous good luck charm from the Hida region in Gifu. Originally red, they come in many colors nowadays. I have some, too!">Sarubobo</a>&#8221; from Gifu Prefecture, so I was surprised to see it there!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0077.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>The stone steps that you have to climb up are surrounded by a forest. A truly mystical and beautiful sight!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0128.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0409.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Along the path you&#8217;ll find millions of small stone statues. I&#8217;m only posting a few of the photos I took.<br /> I don&#8217;t want to spoil too much and take away all the fun for you guys!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0427.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0160.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>You should be careful when climbing up, there might be huge rocks in the way! *g*<br /> I guess it&#8217;s easy to break your neck if you&#8217;re not careful climbing all those stone steps. Even stone statues seem to struggle!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0132.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0134.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>I did mention leaving a lot of money behind when visiting Yamadera, right?</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0136.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Well, ok maybe not a lot of money, but a lot of coins for sure! *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0178.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0177.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>After some time you&#8217;ll reach the &#8220;<strong>Niomon Gate</strong>&#8221; (仁王門). Once you walk through that you&#8217;ll reach the top area of Yamadera.<br /> Well, &#8230; only if those two dudes won&#8217;t scare you away!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0180.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0211.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Colorful paper cranes to pray for someone who&#8217;s sick to be cured again and <a title="Omikuji: Fortune-telling paper strips" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/wiki/omikuji-fortune-telling-paper-strips/" target="_blank">omikuji</a>!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0328.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>This is probably the most popular and most photographed scenery when visiting Yamadera!<br /> The bigger building is the <strong>Kaisando Hall</strong> (開山堂) and is dedicated to the temple&#8217;s founder, Jikaku Daishi.<br /> The smaller one is the <strong>Nokyodo Hall</strong> (納経堂 = hall for copying sutra).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0324.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0257.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>From up there you can access the <strong>Godaido Hall</strong> (五大堂) that offers an awesome view.<br /> The hall is quite old as it dates back to early 1700s.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0279.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>You&#8217;ll have a great overview over the valley below. You can also see &#8220;<strong>Fuga no Kuni</strong>&#8221; (風雅の国) from up there which is an entertainment complex, also including the Basho Museum that I visited later that day.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0251.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>A close-up of the entrance area of one of the temple facilities.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0373.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0391.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>And upon climbing up some more you&#8217;ll finally reach the &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Oku-no-in is something you'll find at many temple complexes and it's usually the most sacred building on the top of a mountain.">Okunoin</a>&#8221; (奥之院).</p><p>Right photo: Hm, I wonder if those fell during the earthquake of March 2011?! &#8230;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0396.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>There are so many tiny temple facilities to discover and it&#8217;s really all up to you if you want to explore all of them or not.<br /> I guess it also depends on your schedule.</p><p>After checking out almost all of the buildings (not all of them were accessible at that time) I went back down.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0449.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0470.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /><br /> Actually the path you climb up and the one you will go back down in the lower (free!) area is not the same, so you&#8217;ll run into a few more things!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0504.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>And then it was finally time for lunch!<br /> Yamagata Prefecture is not only famous for <strong>soba</strong> (buckwheat noodles), but also for <strong>stewed potatoes</strong> (&#8216;imoni&#8217;, 芋煮), so I got a set that had both and it was really delicious!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0501.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>I also tried these. They were available with pumpkin or &#8220;青葉&#8221; (green leaves?!) filling, but as pumpkin wasn&#8217;t in season I tried the other one and .. to be honest .. I didn&#8217;t like it very much!! (^-^;)</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0624.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>I went back towards the station and from there to the &#8220;Fuga no Kuni&#8221; area where the Basho Memorial Center was located.<br /> You have to walk up a steep slope, but from there you&#8217;ll have an awesome view. You can see all the way to Yamadera!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0546.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0578.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>There were a lot of cherry blossom trees. Beautiful!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0584.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>The area is also good for a nice and pleasant afternoon walk.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0592.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0559.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Besides the Basho Center there were gift shops, art museums, cafés and restaurants.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0597.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>Photos weren&#8217;t allowed inside the &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 9:00-16:30. Closed: Irregular, please call 023-695-2221 to confirm. Admission: 400yen.">Yamadera Basho Memorial Hall</a>&#8220;.<br /> I guess it&#8217;s only worth visiting if you&#8217;re interested in haiku poems.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/yamadera/IMGP0642.jpg" alt="Yamadera in Yamagata" /></p><p>And then it was time for me to leave Yamadera. It was still early afternoon, so I decided to go back to Yamagata and explore the city a bit more.<br /> I&#8217;ll post in my next entry what I did in Yamagata later that day.<br /> Stay tuned for more! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(2).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align: right; padding-bottom: 3px; margin-top: -45px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-content/themes/alltuts/images/mysign.png" alt="sign" /></div><p>Thanks for reading. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/b07.gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-10px;"><script type="text/javascript"><!--
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It only takes a bit more than 10 minutes by local train to go from JR Yamagata Station to Kaminoyama-Onsen Station with the &#8220;JR Ou Line&#8221;. Visited: April 29th 2012 Although [...]]]></description> <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p>After spending my afternoon in Yamagata City in the beautiful <a title="Yamagata Castle (Kajou Park)" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/yamagata-castle" target="_blank">Kajou Park</a> I went for a short side trip later that day to <strong>Kaminoyama</strong>.<br /> It only takes a bit more than 10 minutes by local train to go from JR Yamagata Station to <strong>Kaminoyama-Onsen Station</strong> with the &#8220;JR Ou Line&#8221;.</p><p style="text-align: center; border-bottom: 1px solid #ccc; border-top: 1px solid #ccc; background: #eee; padding-top: 3px;"><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /><span style="font-size: x-large;"><strong> Visited:</strong> April 29th 2012</span> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(35).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9432.jpg" alt="Yamagata Prefecture beautiful landscape" /></p><p>Although it&#8217;s just a 10-minute train ride the landscape you get to see is breathtaking!<br /> I can&#8217;t say often enough how beautiful Tohoku is!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9435.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Onsen" /></p><p>I arrived at the station, running into this huge board advertising what Kaminoyama is famous for: onsen and its castle.<br /> <strong>Note:</strong> The &#8220;Ganbarou Tohoku!&#8221; (がんばろう!東北) you&#8217;ll find almost everywhere. It means &#8220;Hang in there, Tohoku!&#8221;.<br /> You can also buy postcards and other &#8220;merchandising&#8221; with this print on it to support Tohoku!<br /> Another good reason to visit, don&#8217;t you think?</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9437.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle" /></p><p>And then I was on my way to the castle. As you can see it&#8217;s quite close to the station, so you can pleasantly walk there in about 15 minutes.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9441.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Onsen manhole cover" /></p><p>The obligatory manhole cover shot I do in every city / town I visit. The one of Kaminoyama is quite adorable.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9445.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Onsen" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9446.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama" /></p><p>As mentioned before Kaminoyama is famous for onsen, so you&#8217;ll run into hot springs for your feet here and there.<br /> The good thing about walking to a tourist attraction is that you&#8217;ll discover so many other tiny, but interesting things that you won&#8217;t find in any tourist guide book!<br /> Kaminoyama is a fairly small town, so I suggest just walking around for a while if you have time to and enjoy the atmosphere!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9453.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle" /></p><p>And then I arrived at &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="Open: 9:00-16:45. Closed: Dec. 29th-31st and in July 3rd Mon-Fri. Admission: 400yen.">Kaminoyama Castle</a>&#8220;.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9462.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>As with many castles, esp. during high season (such as cherry blossom season), you could find some people dressed up as samurai and the kids (or whoever else wants to) can take photos together with them in front of the castle!<br /> Speaking of which .. I just noticed that I&#8217;ve never done it myself. It&#8217;s about time I try! *g*</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9479.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>The castle had some nice exhibitions, but not too much about the castle or the history of it, but more about the nearby <a class="about-tabs" title="Mt. Zao is a volcano with beautiful crater lakes located on the border between Yamagata and Miyagi Prefectures.">Mt. Zao</a> and other locations of interest nearby.</p><p><span style="font-size: x-small;">I wanted to visit Mt. Zao, but didn&#8217;t have enough time to. I got some information how to access it, though.</span><br /> <span style="font-size: x-small;"> Next time I&#8217;ll definitely go!</span></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9467.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9487.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>I was surprised that besides all the Japanese explanations they had <strong>German</strong> ones as well. No English, only German!<br /> Before leaving I asked the staff about it and apparently they have a German &#8220;sister city&#8221; and recently some visitors came and that&#8217;s why they put it up.<br /> Well, I surely enjoyed being able to read explanations in my mother tongue for a change! <img src='http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(17).gif' alt=':D' class='wp-smiley' /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9489.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>From the top floor you had a very nice view, overlooking Kaminoyama.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9497.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>All the pink-ish cherry blossom trees, the green of the other trees and the blue of the mountains in the background make up a beautiful landscape scenery.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9528.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>And here a shot including parts of the castle. I like taking photos like that for some reason. <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/kao_bll.gif" alt="smilie" /></p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9538.jpg" alt="cherry blossoms in Japan" /></p><p>The cherry blossoms were in full bloom in Kaminoyama as well.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9541.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>Cherry blossom trees in full bloom together with castles are my favorite photo motif!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9555.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>Around the castle you&#8217;ll find a beautiful garden.<br /> If you walk from the castle keep to the garden, you&#8217;ll come across another hot spring for your feet from where you can enjoy the view of the castle and the garden at the same time (not pictured in the photo).</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9576.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9588.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>As it was spring, it was quite colorful. I guess in winter it&#8217;s rather boring unless it&#8217;s all snow-covered.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9585.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>From within the garden you&#8217;ll probably be able to take the best castle shots.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9593.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>The garden wasn&#8217;t too big, but had to offer a lot. There was also a small pond.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9595.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9604.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>There were also some tiny fish in it, but I couldn&#8217;t see any koi.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9623.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>For me the pond was the best spot to take a photo of the castle with the garden in the foreground!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9607.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>The castle is on a small hill, so even if you&#8217;re not on the top floor of the main keep, you&#8217;ll have quite a nice view!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9608.jpg" alt="cherry blossoms in Japan" /></p><p>There were so many cherry blossom trees around that it was easy to get some nice close-ups.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9616.jpg" alt="cherry blossoms in Japan" /></p><p>Some had more green leaves than petals, so the peak was already over.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9640.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>You can also walk up and go &#8220;behind&#8221; the castle.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9688.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>First of all you&#8217;ll get another nice view of the castle, but &#8230;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9665.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Shrine Ema" /></p><p>&#8230; there&#8217;s also a little shrine there. Displayed in the photo are the <a title="Ema: Wooden Wishing Plaques" href="http://zoomingjapan.com/wiki/ema/" target="_blank">ema</a> of that shrine.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9658.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata" /></p><p>And then it was time to leave the castle.<br /> I still had some time before it would get dark, so I walked around some more.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9720.jpg" alt="Shooting location of the movie departures, Okuribito, in Kaminoyama" /></p><p>They had some tourist information guide maps (with English!) on them at several spots of the town.<br /> I found out that there was a shooting location of the movie &#8220;<a class="about-tabs" title="It's a 2008 Japanese film by Yōjirō Takita and won a few movie awards.">Departures (Okuribito)</a>&#8221; &#8211; a Japanese movie that I wanted to watch for a long time, but still haven&#8217;t yet.<br /> I&#8217;m sure some of you have watched it? I had time, I was close, so I figured I could as well check it out.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9731.jpg" alt="Shooting location of the movie Depatures, Okuribito, in Kaminoyama" /></p><p>It wasn&#8217;t difficult to find the location. They also put up information boards and photos of some movie scenes that were taken there.</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9735.jpg" alt="Shooting location of the movie Depatures, Okuribito, in Kaminoyama" /></p><p>As I haven&#8217;t seen the movie yet, I had a big question mark above my head and just took a photo of the building that apparently appeared in the movie. I guess people who&#8217;ve seen the movie want to hit me know, but I promise I&#8217;ll watch it as soon as I have some time!! ^-^;;</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9738.jpg" alt="Shooting location of the movie Depatures, Okuribito, in Kaminoyama" /> <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9727.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama" /></p><p>And then I was on my way back to the station. There are also some smaller shrines and temples on the way.<br /> Like I said before &#8211; if you walk, you&#8217;ll run into many interesting things that you can&#8217;t find in any tourism guide book, so I highly recommend it!</p><p><img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/photos/tohoku/yamagata/kaminoyama/IMGP9750.jpg" alt="Kaminoyama-Onsen JR Station" /></p><p>Back at Kaminoyama-Onsen Station from where I went back to Yamagata City to have dinner and then took the night photos of the lit-up castle and cherry blossoms that I posted in my previous entry.</p><p>As you can see I did quite a lot on the first day of my<strong> Golden Week Vacation</strong> although my day started around noon!<br /> I didn&#8217;t have to rush, so you could easily do the same as well! <img src="http://zoomingjapan.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/e%20(29).gif" alt="smilie" /></p><div style="text-align:center; margin-top:-10px;"><script type="text/javascript"><!--
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