Leef Peeping in Greater Sendai

Japan is now at the peak of autumn colors and I like this season the best.

Last year I enjoyed autumn foliage in Kyoto, but this year I first visited the area around Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture and the biggest city in the Tohoku region, northeast of Japan, in 2 days and 1 night earlier this month.

The highlight of this trip was leaf peeping at the three tourist destinations I visited last July. They showed completely different faces in the midsummer and autumn leaves seasons.

  • Matsushima
    is one of the three most scenic spots in Japan, which shows a beauty that makes you lose words, like the great haiku master Matsuo Basho, no matter what season you visit.
    Entsu-in Temple is especially recommended during the autumn foliage season. The illumination at the temple was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but you can fully enjoy its beauty even if you visit during the day.
  • Shiogama
    is situated in the center of Miyagi prefecture, between Sendai City and Matsushima, and I took a pleasure boat from Shiogama to Matsushima on the day.
    It is known as a historic port town and the gate town of Shiogama Shrine, which is the highest ranked Shinto shrine in of the former Mutsu province. Climbing the 202 stone steps called “Otokozaka” or the slope where a man climbs, meaning “the steeper of two uphill paths”, is the fastest way to the worship hall of the shrine.
    I enjoyed lunch at one of the most famous sushi restaurants in the town. So yummy!!

  • Jogi-san or Mt. Jogi
    On the morning of the second day, I took a bus from Sendai Station for about 80 minutes to visit Saiho-ji Temple in the suburbs. This temple is rarely called by its official name but is commonly called “Jogi Nyorai”, named after its principal image.
    At the temple, there is a legend of Taira no Sadayoshi, who is said to have lived in hiding in the area after the defeat of the Taira clan in the battle of Dannoura, the final battle between two famous samurai clans in Japanese history.
    The temple has, however, become well known for its famous “triangular fried tofu”, which seems to sell 10,000 pieces a day in its gate town. I stood in a line and had a piece of fried tofu for breakfast.
    This was my first visit to Jogi-san.
  • Yamadera
    In the afternoon, I changed a bus and a train and headed for Yamadera. The temple town is situated in Yamagata Prefecture, which is next to Miyagi Prefecture, but it is about an hour away from Sendai by local train.
    When I visited last summer, there were few tourists in the town, and I was worried about whether they could overcome the coronavirus pandemic. However, on the day, I had to join a queue to enjoy lunch at a famous soba restaurant, which made me so happy.
    After lunch, I visited Risshaku-ji Temple, which is known for Matsuo Basho’s famous summer haiku.
    This temple is commonly known as Yamadera, literally meaning the “temple in a mountain”, and there are more than 1000 steps from Sanmon or the main gate to Okunoin or the inner sanctuary.
    It is a training path that is said to eliminate the anxieties as you climb one step.

I enjoyed myself a lot in Greater Sendai in fall. This area is definitely recommended for repeat travelers to Japan.

Yuki Takano, a member of iTWS japan LLP

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