Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Yamagata/Miyagi Trip (Part 3)

On Day 3, we went to the Miyagi Zao Kokeshi Museum to make our own Kokeshi, a Japanese doll which was made in memory of a child's death (according to the tour guide, one of the explanations for the name Kokeshi stems from 子消し which literally means a child disappearing). Despite the sad connotation in the past, it is now sold as souvenirs to hot spring tourists.

Ready to make our own Kokeshi!

The Kokeshi I made

We also went to see the exhibitions there!

Check out the Mexico ones!

The last item on our itinerary was cheese making! I love cheese, so it was an experience that I definitely enjoyed, as well as the lunch which included the cheese we made.

Mixing the milk with vinegar at 50 degrees celsius

Swiss Lunch

So that's about it for the Yamagata/Miyagi trip! We passed by a sign to the Fox Village in Miyagi which is on my bucket list so time to plan another trip there soon! (Maybe in summer or something!)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Yamagata/Miyagi Trip (Part 2)

Continuing off from my previous post, on the 2nd Day of the trip, we went to visit the Bunshokan (Yamagata Prefecture Local Museum), the former prefectural government office and prefectural assembly hall. Admission is free and you can take a tour of the exhibits + meeting rooms there. It was once used as the location for the shooting of one of the Rurounin Kenshin movies! Photos were allowed so...:D

Next, we went to the Yamagata Snow Festival at Sagae, a town known for its cherries (sad that it wasn't the season for it though...)!! Although it's not as big as the Sapporo one (I need to go there one day), the scenery there is just so beautiful and the sculptures are adorable!

Here's one of the town mascot, Cherrin!

 And Totoro!!
Mogami River sparkling under the sun!

There were fireworks and illuminations at night but a pity we had to leave for Miyagi after lunch...
BUT! To make up for that, we went to the Shiroishi Castle, the residence of the Katakura Clan who served the Date family! The view from the castle was really pretty!

View from the top floor

After which was dinner time and onsen at the Miyagi Zao area.

Back of the Torii leading to the mountains (We didn't go up the mountains though!)

A nearby river once you enter the Torii

That's about it this time! Look out for Part 3 next week!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Yamagata/Miyagi Trip (Part 1)

Exams are finally over and it's the spring holidays now!! This hols, I'm planning to travel (mostly around kanto), do a bit of baito, read, draw and many more (hey it rhymes haha). Last week, I managed to tick the first item of my list and went to Yamagata and Miyagi on a tour for foreign students! Not the most well known among the prefectures, but they're definitely not to be missed with all the beautiful natural scenery and experiences you can enjoy!

Located in the Northern part of Japan, in Winter, these places (or at least near the mountains), are in summary, SNOWLAND!! You do have areas with no/lesser snow, but the scenery changes drastically as you travel down the road.

Snow + Fields = Nice!

More snow

Snow everywhere

One of the areas that we firstvisited was the Uesugi Museum, Uesugi Shrine and Matsugasaki Shrine. The museum had a special exhibition about Uesugi Yozan, the daimyo who was known for his financial reforms (質素倹約 shissokenyaku: to be frugal) and his poem (which this blog's url is based on):

If you put your mind to it, you can do it;
If you do not, you cannot -- that is true for all things.
When something cannot be done, you are the one to blame
For not putting your heart into it. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Photos weren't allowed inside the museum but here's some of the outside and the shrine!

After that, we headed to the Yamagata Zao mountain range, and went up to the peak to see frost covered trees known as "Snow Monsters" (樹氷 Juhyo). It was so cold (-9°C) that even with a proper coat and gloves, I couldn't stay outside for more than 10 minutes...(luckily they had a rest area where you could warm up!) 

Trees on the way up

Trees on the peak

No regrets freezing to see these sights! To be continued in the next post (maybe later in the week!)