Not too far west of Sendai is an interesting temple complex called Gokurakuzan Saiho-ji (or Johgi-Nyorai).
The history of this goes back about 800 years and involves a painting with apparently special powers. This painting was considered so special that an entire shrine was built to contain it and allow people to visit, giving good luck for families, weddings and having kids. I’m not so sure about its effectiveness, but the buildings are quite impressive and it is a great destination for a decent sized bike ride. More details about the history can be found here.
This is not an easy place to reach and is hidden out at the end of a fairly quiet country road. Getting here involves biking through some mountains and around a small lake. The first time I rode here was a couple years ago with a co-worker, doing the trip after work one day. It was possibly not the wisest move as the daylight fades fast. Navigating steep, winding and unlit back roads with no headlights and sounds of howling and barking from various animals as your cell phone navigation relies on a dying battery makes for a good story. Once.
The next visit was much earlier in the day on a weekend, which meant many people were in the area with food and snacks being sold along the main street. For this third trip, I again made a late afternoon run, but due to prior experience got back before total darkness.
Below are twenty photos from the ride:
A deserted old cabin, ready to fall in on itself at any time and it seems only good for hosting election signs. This is a common sight along quieter roads.
The rice farmers are at work preparing and flooding the fields for the new plants.
After about 400 meters of climbing, this tight bend leads back down a winding descent. Better hope the brakes are ready.
The first look at the five-story pagoda that peaks out from the trees. This is a great view from the bridge.
Just hanging out. A very rare sign of life on this Monday afternoon.
The view of the main gate. There are a number of buildings beyond this point, including the pagoda, yet the closed wooden gates and sign indicated it was not open today. Quite a surprise; attaining my good luck would have to wait.
No snacks to be had on this day, just a strange feeling of being the only person around.
It turned out there were actually a few more around the corner, packing up their goods for the day. I can’t imagine who may have come buy for any shopping, however.
On the way back – shadows are getting long.
This lake formed by the construction of Okura Dam, from which I took this photo. Some research told me it has the potential to generate 5.2 MW of power, which doesn’t seem like that much for something so huge.
A drop of 82 meters.
Back in the city another rice farmer is getting some work done before sunset.