Yamagata, Part 1

Well, the good news is, I’ve done enough traveling in the past month that I actually have a backlog of material to use for my blog! No more boring random posts about my visit to the grocery store! 🙂

In September, one of my teammates and I took a trip to the city of Yonezawa, in the neighboring prefecture of Yamagata. We had lots of interesting experiences there, so that’s what the next couple of posts will be about.

We took the shinkansen to Yonezawa on Saturday morning and arrived about mid-morning. These tiles were in part of the sidewalk outside the station. Japan is big on capitalizing on local products and specialties, and apparently these are some of Yonezawa’s.

We tried to check into our hotel but it was too early, so we walked to a nearby park to kill a couple of hours. The park had a temple and other historical buildings, so it was one of the area’s tourist attractions. Outside the entrance to the park was a remarkably large patch of water lilies.

The seed pods, or whatever they are, have the coolest indentations on them:

Inside the park area was a Shinto shrine. This shrine had a red gate near it. The red gate is not unusual for a shrine, but I thought the row of flags behind it was interesting.

The gate in front of the shrine:

The shrine itself. The large ropes in front are connected to bells. People ring the bells when they pray. I can’t remember if they always do…I guess I don’t pay enough attention. 🙂

This is the water that people use to ceremonially cleanse themselves. I don’t know if it’s optional because I feel like I hardly ever seen anybody doing it.

The temple grounds were very picturesque and there was a pretty fish pond.

Surrounding the park was a lovely canal stocked with koi fish. Some people were feeding them, which I thought was interesting and horrifying at the same time. In my opinion, koi are just gross! I went and looked on the other side of the bridge, and even there I could see koi swimming hastily over to get their share of the plunder. The pigeons were also trying to get in on the action…

In front of one of the nearby buildings was this friendly fellow. He has some historical significance but I can’t remember what…

After exploring the park, we wandered around and bought lunch from some vendors. Yonezawa is famous for its beef, so we tried beef croquettes and my friend bought a niku-man, which is a steamed bun filled with meat. Yum! After a leisurely lunch, we walked back to our hotel and checked in. And…that’s all for Part 1! Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Yamagata adventures!

 

 

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