Shoji Central, Tendo

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November 26th 2007
Published: November 26th 2007
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So today was a fun eccentric day trip for the weekend. I got most of my house work done on Sunday so I searched through my LP to find a good day trip for today. As I was reading through Yamagata I found Tendo. According to the LP, Tendo makes 90% of all Japanese chess pieces, or Shoji. Since I had such fun at Ishinomaki I thought this Tendo and its shoji were just the place for a good day trip. Tendo is famous for having a 'ningen shoji', or human chess game in April I believe. I already looked to see if I could participate but no women allowed. My co and I are so going to be there though.

I set out early this morning and made the 8:47am rapid train toward Yamagata and then transfered to the Ou line after a small 30 minute layover and got into Tendo around 11am. It takes 1110 yen to get to Tendo station from Sendai and its not a very long trip either. There are some great views of the surrounding mountains and we also went right past Yamadera on the way there. First stop was the Shoji Museum; which is ever so conveniently on the first floor of the JR Tendo station. There was a small section on the history of chess, chess sets from around the world, and a huge showing of the different sizes of Japanese Shoji sets. There was a great movie showing how the shoji pieces are made and the little museum was a great little start to the adventure that shoji was going to become. Right outside of Tendo Station there is a tourist map of the area and numbered places to go in the city.

I set out toward the Hiroshige Art Museum. Hiroshige was a Edo period woodblock artist and the whole museum is filled with his woodblock prints. It was well worth the 600yen to get there. 2 floors of beautiful prints and a great little shot into the past. Right across the street is a small shop where you can see Shoji pieces being made. I was there during lunch it seems because nobody was working but it makes a great little shop to look for omiyage (gifts). I set out for a little hike around town and found myself at another shoji making places. They had some great sets at a good price so I grabbed some gifts for Christmas for my family and sent out toward the station and to walk around the city a little more.

When I got to the station it was only 1:30pm and I remembered there was a small shrine on the tourist map so I decided to grab a coin locker and dropped my gifts and then headed out again. I went up along the river this time. It seemed like it was the right direction on the little tourist map. Along this river are little bridges that each represent a different Shoji piece. Apparently I should have looked at the map a little more because I got to the end of the river walk and found no shrine. So I started walking down the main road looking for some signs. There wasn't any. So I just kept looking around for some torii gates and I finally spotted them. So on I walked and I passed a elementary school. On the next crosswalk there were some cute little kid statues to warn the cars and children to look out before crossing. They were all bright yellow.

I found the shrine and discovered why its not marked. It's not much of anything and after I hiked up the stairs the shrine itself was covered by a white cover and you couldn't even see it. But I did walk into the farm/garden next to it and saw some great views of the town and the surrounding mountains. After the photo op. I walked over to a house and saw 2 men making something. I think it was chairs but I didn't have enough guts to knock on the door or window to ask them.

Afterwards I walked to the station and founded I missed the train by 2 minutes so I had to wait a hour for the next train; which was going to be at 4:10pm. While I was waiting I was reading a book when this crazy old man walked down the stairs. He had this ridiculously modern keitai, or cell phone, that had over 10 ornaments dangling from it. He was speaking the local accent and when he called up one of his friends all I heard was some off mutterings. Right before the train came I asked the nice older lady who was sitting on my bench if this train went to Yamagata and she said yes and chatted with me for a little while. I find that I am getting very good with chatty Japanese. Mostly, "it was hot/cold today" or "I live in Sendai and I teach English". When we got on the train she went to sit and I stood since I was getting off soon. When I got off she was confused that I wasn't getting off at Yamagata and I thanked her and told her I was going to be just fine. I only had a 20 minute layover this time and made it back to Sendai by 6pm. My co and I went out for dinner and did a little shopping at the arcade then headed up to the roof of our building for a drink and to chat some more.

All in all, a very successful day.

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 25


15th March 2011
Tendo, Japan

Different Tendo
Tendo looks different then it was 68 years ago. I was in the army and stationed 10 miles away in 1947 and 1948. I have many fond memories of Tendo and Yamagata Prefecture. Thanks for the picture.

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