Tuesday, 30 March 2010


The Uetsu line train from Murakami terminated at Sakata, Yamagata prefecture,  and there was a 90 min wait between trains - enough time to get out of the station and have a quick look around. What a lovely city.  Two short visits and I'd like to go back for a couple of days.  Sakata was an old port city, as I mentioned when I wrote about being here last October.  The strees are wide, the houses are well maintained, there is spit and polish to it.  Even the man holes on the ground had a fresh painted zing.  Many Japan seaside places, especially those away from the Shinkansen lines, have a worn, dilapidated feel. Not Sakata.  Even the empty shops by the station looked neat and clean, with no sense of urban decay.

The cheery zing of the painted manhole covers

My short wanderings took me by chance through a temple district that featured in the movie 'okuribito'  (Departures) which won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2009.  (Buddhist)  Temples tend to signify urban life, literacy and education. Buddhism, which came to to Japan via China has many sutras and religious text that require at least some of the population to be literate. In contrast, Shinto, the indigenous religion has no written doctrine and shrines which are connected to nature and are found randomly on mountain paths, by waterfalls and in forest clearings.   (The lack of written  doctrine helps explain how Shinto could be manipulated so much in the lead up to world war II).

Kaian - A Zen temple with pagoda near the station  
A signboard showing where part of Okuribito was filmed
Itsukushima shrine
 Itsukushima shrine

Itsukushima shrine

A house of no particular significance that I could see.

Shops to rent near the station

Around Sakata
Sakata town map (the macro setting isn't quite right)

North of Sakata it was dark.  I took the train to Akita city and changed to an all stations to Odate, arriving at 9.54pm. 
Some time in the future I would like to go back to Sakata and follow the trainline up the coast to Aomori.

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