If you are a permanent resident of a big city then you start appreciating little getaways in the countryside. Considering that autumn in Japan is beautiful, as nature becomes a palette full of different shades of green, orange, yellow and red, Tendō in the middle of Yamagata prefecture in the region of Tohoku will fascinate you.
Situated three hours away from Tokyo by the JR Yagamata Shinkansen (bullet train), Tendō is surrounded by mountains. Therefore, you might be interested in hiking. Mt. Maidzuru is the best place to start. When you reach the top of the mountain, you’ll be able to see the city from above as well as Mt. Gassan, the Asahi Peaks and the Mogami River. In the autumn, the nature around Tendō is very colorful and the view from up here is truly extraordinary. Oh, you’ll also find a couple of beautiful shrines and temples along the way!
Tendō is mostly famous for the production of shogi pieces, (Japanese style chess). At an estimated 95%, the city is the main producer of shogi pieces in the whole country. What is interesting here is that you can see elaborate pieces that imitate monuments, signboards and even food throughout the city.
Since Tendō is the city of shogi, it would only make sense that there is a “Tendō City Shogi Museum” here. Opened in 1992, the museum is part of the central train station. Unfortunately everything is written in Japanese except the titles of the exhibits, which doesn’t make it very easy for someone who doesn’t read or speak Japanese. However, visitors can obtain a free information brochure from the information desk, where they can also purchase tickets. Another great museum to visit is the “Hiroshige Museum of Art” with its collection of Nikuhitsuga paintings (created by using a writing brush, and painted directly onto silk, paper, or wood) done by the artist Hiroshige I.
During the time I spent at Tendō, I stayed at Hotel Pearl City Tendō. The hotel can be easily accessed from the JR Tendō train station by a 10-minute walk. The rooms have a private bathroom, a TV and a fridge. A delicious breakfast is served daily from 7-9 am at the hotel’s restaurant with a great variety of dishes to choose from. The hotel also has a fitness room and that way you can keep up with your exercise routine!
Yamagata Prefecture and the region of Tohoku in general, is famous for soba (portions are double than those in Tokyo), beef, and fruits. The apples and la France pears in Yamagata are literally huge and have an amazing taste.
Hot springs and foot spas
There are multiple hot springs (onsen) and foot spas (ashiyu) in Tendō. You can find ashiyu public baths where you can bathe your feet, all over the city and you can use them for free! Just remember to carry a towel with you.
As in every Japanese city, you can find many temples and shrines. If you have time and the possibility to rent a car, I would suggest you visit Wakamatsu Temple, as well as the beautiful Yamadera Temple (Risshakuji Temple) that is hidden in a forest covering a mountain slope.
JR East Pass
This location is easily accesible via the JR East train network – why not consider a JR East Pass, which offers flexible 4-day and 5-day travel options at affordable rates.