My freshly painted shogi piece; the paint is still wet - Tendo Town, home of Japanese chess (Photo: Alena Eckelmann)

Shogi Time at Tendo Town

Painting a shogi piece as lucky charm

Alena Eckelmann   - 3 min read

Tendo Town in Yamagata Prefecture is the home of Shogi (Japanese chess). Wherever you go, you will come across shogi pieces in some shape and form. For example, there are Shogi on the pavements of the streets and there are Shogi-making classes.

If you come to Tendo Tower, home of the Shogimura (Shogi Village), you can try your hands at painting a Shogi piece yourself or purchase a new Shogi set. If you decide to craft a Shogi yourself, then you can choose your Kanji character and then create your own lucky shogi charm. This photo story shows you what I have produced during this "art class".

Did you know that Tendo Town produces 95% of all Shogi pieces made in Japan? If you are a Japanese chess enthusiast, this is the place to come. Most visitors who make their way to Tendo do not intent to buy a Shogi set but they come for the Tendo Sakura Matsuri, the town's spring festival in April each year.

Sakura is actually not the biggest attraction during this festival but it is the performance of Tendo Ningen Shogi (human chess). Imagine a large Shogi board on the ground and the Shogi figures are actually people who move around on the board following the instructions given by the players.

If you need to get away from the crowds, then consider a hike in "Tendo Park", which is actually a small mountain in the middle of Tendo Town. The mountain is called Maizurusan and it is famous in the local area for its autumn foliage.

Stay for a night at Tendo Central Hotel or at Hotel Pearl City Tendo before you hop on the Yamagata Shinkansen again and continue your discovery tour of Yamagata in Obanazawa where the Hanagasa Matsuri takes place each year in late August, or in Shinjo where the Shinjo Matsuri takes place, also in late August each year. Stay at Katoya Ryokan in Obanazawa. If you time it well, then you can even visit both festivals after your stop in Tendo.

Getting there

Tendo City is served by the JR Yamagata Shinkansen, departing from Tokyo Station.

Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Founder of Kii Monogatari, my story and the story of the Kii Peninsula of Japan. Originally from East Germany, I came to Tokyo, via Berlin and London, in 2005. In summer 2011 I moved by choice to remote Kumano in the south of the Kii Peninsula where I live, work and play now, and explore every da...