Sendai and Around

Yesterday was my last final written exam, and I also turned in my last report, so today I started traveling. The first stop is Sendai and the surrounding area.

At 12:10am, my friend and I caught the night bus from Shinjuku. I was a little surprised to find that the night bus was empty. The last time I rode the night bus, every seat was filled. I guess there just weren’t too many people going to Sendai from Tokyo on a Wednesday. Just as last time, I didn’t get much sleep on the bus. Since this one was practically empty, I was even able to recline my seat all the way, but it didn’t help much.

We finally made it to Sendai at 6:55am, and then had to walk fast to make sure we didn’t miss our connecting train at 7:07. In general the places I’m going to this time aren’t as popular as some of the previous places I’ve been to. That means that the train didn’t run as often. If we missed the train at 7:07, the next train wouldn’t come until 8:10. Thankfully though, we made it on time and even had a few minutes to spare.

Our first stop was Yamadera. It sits way up in the mountains, and you have to climb 1,000 steps to reach it. It’s definitely a work out, but the view of the temple with the surrounding mountains as a backdrop makes for a breathtaking view. The most surprising fact was that people actually lived at the top of the mountain next to the shrine. I can’t imagine having to climb those steps everyday.

After Yamadera, we got on the Loople Sendai Sightseeing Bus and got off at the Zuihoden Mausoleum. It’s the mausoleum of Date Masamune, the founder of Sendai city, and his heirs. The mausoleum is painted black and has decorations plated in gold which makes for a very striking contrast. Also carved into the building are all sorts of characters painted all sorts of colors.

After that we got back on the sightseeing bus and went to Osaki Hachimangu, which is decorated in much of the same way as the mausoleum was. The striking gold and black makes it unique from many of the other shrines I have visited. Also, they still had decorations from the Tanabata festival, so in front of the temple was a great bamboo tree full of papers that people had written their wishes on.

Once we wandered around there for a while, we made our way back to the station and were off to Matsushima. It’s ranked one of Japan’s three most scenic views, and rightly so. It’s famous for its bay that is full of all sorts of mini islands. Once getting off the train, we walked to Mt. Ogitani. It was a little bit of a hike to get there, and the way really wasn’t made for pedestrians, but we managed to make it without a problem. It takes a little bit to get to the top, and involves climbing a decent amount of steps, but it does give a pretty good view of the bay.

Next we made our way to Mt. Tamon. At the very top is small Inari shrine, and behind the shrine is an amazing spot to get pictures of the bay. Unfortunately the day was a little cloudy for us. I’m sure if we’d had a clear sky, the pictures would have turned out absolutely amazing, but I still think my pictures turned out pretty well.

Lastly, we decided to check out the long red bridge that connected Fukkura Island with Matsushima, but unfortunately by the time I arrived it was already closed. Still, I thought the bridge itself was pretty cool to see.

Overall, today was a LOT of walking, and more annoyingly, a lot of steps. However, I had an absolute blast. It’s a great way to kick off my travels, and I hope the rest of my time traveling is enjoyable as today was.

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