August 23, 2007

We woke up relatively early because we wanted to do some things in Sendai before we left for Morioka. We packed our luggage and left it at the front desk and took went outside to Zuiho-den. Zuiho-den is the mausoleum of Date Masamune the founder and first lord of Sendai, the Date clan continued to rule Sendai for 270 years. I am just going to quote exactly what the informational map outside of the cemetery said, complete with capitalizations:


KYOGAMINE cemetery of the DATE family

On Kyogamine hill sit the three mausoleums of MASAMUNE DATE’s ZUIHO-DEN, TADAMUNE DATE’s KANSEN-DEN, and TSUNAMUNE DATE’s ZENNO-DEN. (MASAMUNE DATE 1567 ~1636 was the first, TADAMUNE the second and TSUNAMUNE the third lord of the DATE clan.) There is also a cemetery called MYOUNKAIBYO, containing the three tombstons of CHIKAMUNE (the ninth lord), NARIYOSHI (the eleventh lord), and NARIYOSHI’s wife, and a children’s cemetery containing the tombs of children of DATE leaders from the fifth lord YOSHIMURA.
ZUIHO-DEN and KANSEN-DEN were designated national treasures in 1931 as outsanding mausoleum architecture in MOMOYAMA style, but they were burned down by the air raids in 1945 as well as ZENNO-DEN.
The reconstruction of these three mausoleums was begun in 1974 and was completed in 1985. Now KYOGAMINE is a designated historic spot of SENDAI.

The cemetery also conainted a museum beside the Zuiho-den that displayed treasures that were discovered during the renovation as well as a video of the excavation. In addition, there is a memorial to Saint Mankai. I will quote the informational tablet next to the memorial:

Memorial to Saint MANKAI

Saint MANKAI, a mountaineering ascetic from Mt. YUDONO, was buried here at Kyogamine at the end of the Middle Ages. His grave was unearthed in 1636, when the grave of MASAMUNE DATE was being constructed.
A memorial to Saint MANKAI had stood to the east of the former ZUIHO-DEN Mausoleum but was lost in the air raids of 1945 and the devastation following them.
When the reconstruction of ZUIHO-DEN was completed in 1979, there rose a voice among the citizens of SENDAI hoping for the reconstruction of the memorial to Saint MANKAI. This memorial was erected on December of 1989 at the historical site of “ZANKUTSU” in ZUIHO-DEN.
* ZANKUTSU was a resting place for feudal lords visiting the mausoleum

The sights were amazing, and the best part was that Tenryukaku Ryokan was built on the same hillside so it was only a two minute walk from the ryokan to the cemetary. The museum was very interesting showing some of Date Masamune’s armor as well as other period treasures, including swords, spears, and other weapons of war. It was a very nice thing to walk through and I would suggest that anyone who travels to Sendai to take the time to visit these national treasures.

Unfortunately we did not have the time to go to Sendai Castle or the surrounding area. After we finished walking through the cemetery we picked up our luggage and headed out to Sendai station to take the Shinkansen to Morioka.


We arrived at Morioka around 4pm, walked from the station to Kumagai Ryokan, about at 10 to 15 minute walk, deposited our luggage then started walking around the city. We stumbled upon an excellent Tourist Information Center across the Nakatsu-gawa ( “川” – gawa or kawa means river in Japanese) where they had English speaking staff available who were extremely helpful. We decided that we were going to go on a few of the walking tours, which we did the following day (we actually combined about four of the walking tours into one extremely large walking tour). For that night we decided that we wanted to try some of the local delicacies.

Morioka is famous for their speciality foods, namely:

  • Wanko-soba : small bowls of thin, flat buckwheat noodles.
  • Reimen : large bowl of cold, semi-tranparent, slightly chewy egg noodles eaten with Korean kimchi and other garnishes.
  • Ja-ja men : a bowl of thick, white noodles that comes with a few slices of cucumber and a slab of brown miso paste.

We ended up trying all but the wanko-soba which apparently is used mostly for eating contests now instead of for an actual meal. That night we had ja-ja men at the most popular noodle shop that sells it called Pairong. It was really good. What you do is first you mix the miso paste into the broth so that it dissolves and saturates the noodles and vegetables. There are a variety of spices that you can put in but I recommend that you try it plain first, I like hot food so I added some things to make it spicy. It is definitely unique. I will write about trying the reimen in a future post.

We went to the Sega arcade on the main street “Odori”. We played there for a while then headed back to the ryokan for the night because we had a long day ahead of us, which I will write about in the next post, until then!


August 22, 2007

Ryan and I left the ryokan around the checkout time of 10am to start our leg of the trip that would take place in the Tohoku region of Japan. Armed with our JR East Passes, that we had purchased on arriving into Japan, we made our way to Tokyo station to get on the shinkansen to Sendai. There is nothing much to note about our trip out there except that riding on a shinkansen is very smooth and fast.


The trip took around two and a half hours and upon arriving at the Sendai station we took a taxi from the station to our next ryokan, Tenryukaku. We did a little video about our impressions of the ryokan which I will post here. Needless to say the ryokan was amazing. I will make a separate post with the list of places that we stayed and where you can reserve them for your reference. We spent a couple of hours just admiring the ryokan then we made our way back into Sendai (the ryokan is about a 10 minute taxi ride from the main area of the city of Sendai).

Sendai is extremely hard to navigate around. We had our Japan travel guide: The Rough Guide to Japan , and we still could not find the restaurant that was recommended by them. We asked a woman that was walking down the street where the place was and very graciously she helped us find the restaurant, after about 30 minutes of looking, even she had a hard time finding it and it was a very famous restaurant. The woman happened to speak very good English and works for a company called Gourmet Navigator. I really can not thank her enough.

Eventually we got to the restaurant, Tasuke, and tried gyuutan. Gyuutan is a specialty of Sendai and is extremely delicious, seriously if you are ever in Sendai take the time to find this place, it is worth it. After we left, we were walking back to the main street of Sendai and ran into the woman who helped us find Tasuke and she asked how we liked the food. We ended up talking for about thirty minutes and as I said I can not complement her enough.

It was getting late so we went back to Tenryukaku Ryokan for the night. Before I went to sleep I spent a little time in the in-house onsen (I love ryokans!!). If you don’t know about bath etiquette in Japan here is the short version. First you wash yourself completely in the wash room part of the bathroom (here literally meaning the place where you wash yourself or take a bath, you will not usually find a toilet in this room), then after you have rinsed off you relax in the bath. It was very refreshing and something I truly enjoy about Japan. And there concludes our seventh day in Japan.

Next time I will talk about how we spent the day in Sendai and our night in Morioka, until then!!