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Published: October 18th 2007
Okayama-Jo with festival stalls
We were really lucky to see Okayama-jo during a festival.
I have finally gotten around to getting a blog together so that all my friends and family back home can check in and see that, yes i am still alive and that i'm having a great time in Sendai. Here is a quick introduction: I am a recent college graduate that is still thinking about teaching as a goal in the future. I am teaching with Amity/AEON in Sendai, Miyagi-ken, Japan and am loving it! I was looking around travelblog and saw that there weren't a lot of people traveling up to the north of Honshu so i wanted to help change that and get some information out there for those travelers who want to get off the beaten path of Japan and explore "Real Japan".
Now to start.
The first day, we, all 6 of us, were given free and exploring the city was the biggest thing for most people. Okayama is a very regular place with a beautiful black castle, Okayama-jo, that, in my opinion, is not worth the 850yen to get in. The views of the city from the top are alright and the only thing that is has going for it. Besides being beautiful that
The Naruto Cutouts
I still can't get over actually seeing this in a castle
is. It was amusing to get to the 2nd level and find Naruto Shippoden cut outs and voice overs in an almost ancient castle. Right next to the black castle is the beautiful Koranku-en park. It is very much worth the 350yen to get it. It was beautiful little pagodas, a small tea orchard, and some tiny restaurants that are perfect for a photo-op.
Okayama itself is a very quiet place that is very much a working family town. There isn't much there for tourists to see but I think walking around a working class Japanese town has its own positives. First, you get to see a Japanese city thats not Osaka, Kyoto, or Tokyo. Second, you can find the best little stores and small time restaurants. Third, if you get up early enough in the morning, you can see the kids walking to school or heading out to practice in the afternoon. Things that, in my opinion, are the "real Japan" as I call it.
It takes 6 and 1/2 hours to get to Sendai from Okayama by shinkansen, or bullet train, in English. I had a partner for trip from Okayama to Tokyo and then 2
Such a beautiful park!
hours by myself up to Sendai. The change in the window between Tokyo and Sendai was drastic. Gone were all the buildings and over the top apartment blocks and in came the farmland and small little towns dotted the shinkansen tracks. Rolling into Sendai was almost culture shock when compared to the greenland out the window.
Sendai is a rather big city in my opinion. In 2005 the population was 1,028,214 and there is new construction going on all over the city. One of them not far from my apartment. It is known for its wide avenues and tree-lined streets as well as its huge Tanabata festival; which I have missed by a month. It is also called an "academic city" because of all the schools that are in the city, Tohoku University being a famous example. There are great shopping avenues and lots of trees. You just have to head to the International Center almost on the outskirts of the city to see the beautiful mountains and also the Hirose-gawa river.
I was pretty lucky that there was a festival last weekend and I got to head over and check it out. One of my new students
was dancing in it. Its called Yosakoi matsuri and is a mixture of tradiaitonal and modern dance that has bloomed all over Japan. It was a lot of fun to watch the dancers spread out between 3 stages and part of Jozeji-dori; which is one of the main roads in Sendai. The colors were beautiful and the dancing was crazy. I was able to see my favorite group, in black, 3 times while I was walking around. I graped some okonomiyaki for lunch and walked around the rest of the city. The okonomiyaki in Sendai is so different from the Osaka okonomiyaki. A lot less batter and more pickled ginger and a whole friend egg on top. It was delicious though! The festival was such a great way to get into the city and it was such a beautiful day as well.
Until next update!
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