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We spent the night in Yonezawa, famous for the “Yonezawa ABCs”, Apples, Beef, and Carp! We didn’t try any apples or carp, but we did eat the beef at a restaurant near the station… SO good! I could definitely taste the quality of it compared to regular supermarket beef. Nice!

After checking out of the Toyoko Inn that morning, we drove to the ruins of Yonezawa castle, which now hosts a shrine. There were many beautiful cherry blossoms here too, and also lots of festival booths. We spent a little time here before finally driving to the main point of the entire road trip: Yamadera.

A friend had posted some pictures of Yamadera with many hydrangea in bloom in June, and I’ve wanted to see it ever since. Yamadera literally means just “mountain temple”; its a temple complex situated increasingly higher on the mountain, and is quite a walk to get up to the top! I knew it wouldn’t be full of flowers, but the occasional cherry blossom tree or daffodil was quite nice, and I was happy to cross it off my travel list… for now at least. I bet it’d be awesome in fall!

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Yonezawa “ABCs” and our fantastic beef dinner!

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Uesugi Shrine in Yonezawa (Uesugi Kenshin was a famous samurai from the area)

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Getting my calligraphy done

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We had fun taking all these pictures!

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Cool building in Yamagata city, where I grabbed my postcards from an open post office

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Lots of blossoms at the parking lot!

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I really liked the area… the train tracks and river together were very picturesque!

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Bottom temple at the start of the complex

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Getting my calligraphy from here

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We had to eat “chikara dango”, balls of konnyaku said to give power to get all the way to the top!

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This temple is famous as being written about by the famous haiku poet Basho

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And Yamagata is famous for cherries and “La France”, western pears, so we tried some snacks for that too!

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Temple map

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Cherry cups in the lanterns on the way up

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Up we go! It was crazy

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But some nice views!

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And a random post office box… does someone actually walk up here every day to check if there’s mail?! I don’t want that job!!

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Finally made it to the top!

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Got my calligraphy up here too, but I skipped all the middle temples… too much calligraphy for me!

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Nice views as we continued to the viewing platform

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Which indeed had some nice views!

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We grabbed a quick picture of the three of us

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Then aaaaalll the way back down, where we contemplated how far we’d come

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And got some more ice cream as a reward!

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Yamagata’s also famous for shogi pieces, but these are huge!

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Beer and cherry sake from the area… I forgot to get pictures of my postcards though!

After finishing at the temple and grabbing snacks, we headed back to Gunma. We hit traffic on the way, so it took a good 4-5 hours, but we finally got home and considered it a great trip. I wonder where I will go next?