Travel Reports by mfedley view profile of mfedley

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Note: The opinions and views expressed in this user report are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of japan-guide.com.

June 20, 2015 - Tsuruoka to Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata

For today, I hired a car to travel around the general Tsuruoka area which saves a lot of time compared to catching sparse public transport in the area. The weather was also good as Tsuyu (mainly season) affects northern Tohoku later and with far less ferocity.

For today, I visited 5 attractions in the following order:

(1) Zenpo-ji Temple
(2) Tosawa Park
(3) Kamo Aquarium
(4) Gyokusen-ji Temple
(5) Cherry Picking

Some were to the east of Tsuruoka towards the ocean, while some were towards the west in the direction of Haguro-san.

As mentioned above, I first visited Zenpuji temple to the North East of Tsuruoka. Then I backtracked to Tosawa Park and Kamo Aquarium. The trip to Gyokusen-ji temple took a little over 30 minutes and was roughly 20 KM's from Kamo Aquarium. Note that the fastest speed limit today was 60 KM/H with most driving occurring at a mind numbing 40 KM/H

My wheels for the next two nights. A 0.9L Nissan something....

A 20 minute drive from central Tsuruoka is Zenpu-ji temple, one of the larger Soto Sect temples in the greater Yamagata area. The temple itself was quite large with some pretty impressive structures. To the best of my knowledge, there is meant to be an entrance fee but I could find no-where to pay it! Do note there is some works occurring at the entrance of the temple but the whole temple is currently un-affected.

For me, I see this as one of the more impressive temples in the Northern Tohoku region however there is a dearth of large impressive temples in this region. If your in the area and are not travelling to Kansai, I would highly recommend this temple. However, if you are travelling to Kyoto then I'd give it a miss unless you are in Tsuruoka.

A 5 minute drive from Zenpu-ji temple is Tosawa Park, an old caldera which is now used as a reservoir for the local community. There are quite a few walks around the area as it's heavily forested and is home to some rare birds - which is why the main lake is a part of the Ramsar treaty for wild birds.

To walk around the main lake, it takes a little over an hour as you walk along paved road and gravel tracks. Do note that almost all signs are in English apart from one detailed signed which talks about the lake become a part of the Ramsar treaty. To stop yourself from getting lost, I recommend taking a photo of the main map and then looking at the wooden signs if you get lost. I found the Kanji for the main shrine invaluable in me only getting lost for 30 minutes instead of being found a couple of days later.

As most Azaleas were finishing their bloom - most were covered with a heavy layer of spider webs

In Australia most insects either burn, sting or kill you along being being notoriously ugly. However, in Japan many are quite cute. I'm now starting to understand why bug catching seems to be such a big thing in Japan with some little kids. It should also be noted that this area would be at it's best in koyo or Autumn season due to the large number of maple trees.

A 10-15 minute drive from Tosawa Park is Kamo Aquarium, which is known as the "Jellyfish Aquarium" in Japan and also holds the guinness world record for the most number of Jellyfish on display at an aquarium. It costs 1000 Yen to enter and has a fantastic array of jellyfish and other critters found in that common polar solvent that comes from the sky.

Fresh water exhibition

One thing which normally upsets me in Japan is the small size of many enclosures in Japanese zoos. However, the Kamo Aquarium was totally rebuilt in 2014 and I'm happy to say that the tanks and enclosures are quite good - albeit still a little small by western standards.

Lighthouse guiding ships into Kamo port
One of the hand tanks...
Exhibition showing the life cycle of one of the smaller jellyfish.
The star attraction of the aquarium - an absolutely huge tank of Jellyfish.

Kamo Aquarium also has the normal attractions such as a sea lion show but it's main oddity is serving up jellyfish soft serve ice cream. For those wondering how they do this - they just put some cut up jellyfish on the outside of the soft serve. Ironically - it doesn't taste too bad

A 40 minute drive from Kamo Aquarium is Gyokusen-ji temple. It's not that large but has a rather pretty garden which costs 400 yen to enter.

Green tea & a Japanese sweet - 500 Yen
The view!

One thing that surprised me was you are able to walk around the garden itself. This is quite a rarity as many temple gardens such as this one are "look but don't walk". I have quite a few more photos which are nice from around the garden, but I don't think people want to see the same garden from 10 different angles.

A 5 minute drive from Gyukusen-ji temple was a Cherry farm. I don't know the exact address, but I can confirm that they tasted absolutely fantastic. Do note that the cherries were quite expensive but they do give you quite a few for free which look good but are not absolutely perfect.

For me, today is more about what my trip in Japan is about. Getting off the beaten track and enjoying what Japan has to offer. If I was to choose a favourite activity for today, it would be between the aquarium and drinking the green tea looking at a beautiful garden.

Tomorrow, I will be visiting Haguro-san, then Churenji & Dainichibo temples followed by Yudono-san. At present, the road to Gas-san is closed until June 25th which means I can't walk around the alpine grassland. Oh well....

Further information:

Kamo Aquarium (Japanese): http://kamo-kurage.jp

Zenpo-ji Temple (Japanese): http://www.zenpoji.jp

Gyukusen-ji Temple (Japanese): http://www.gyokusenji.or.jp

Zenpo-ji & Sanyo Park (Oyama Park) (English): http://www.dewakoku.or.jp/renmei/map05.html

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List of Posts:
2018/07/18 - Hidden Honshu: Fukuyama
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Tomonoura
2018/07/17 - Hidden Honshu: Iwakuni
2018/07/16 - Hidden Honshu: Tsuwano
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Residences
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Shrine District & Temples
2018/07/15 - Hidden Honshu: Hagi's Castle Town
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Iwami Ginzan
2018/07/14 - Hidden Honshu: Izumo
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Yonago
2018/07/13 - Hidden Honshu: Matsue's Gardens
2018/07/12 - Hidden Honshu: Mikuni
2018/07/11 - Hidden Honshu: Awara Onsen
2018/07/10 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Museums
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Samurai District
2018/07/09 - Hidden Honshu: Kanazawa's Castle District
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Sado's Shukunegi
2018/07/08 - Hidden Honshu: Southern Sado
2018/07/07 - Hidden Honshu: Northern Sado
2018/07/06 - Hidden Honshu: Getting to Sado
2018/07/05 - Hidden Honshu: Sakata
2018/07/04 - Hidden Honshu: Akita
2018/07/03 - Hidden Honshu: Kakunodate
2018/07/02 - Hidden Honshu: Nyuto to Tamagawa Onsen
2018/07/01 - Hidden Honshu: Morioka to Nyuto Onsen
2018/06/30 - Hidden Honshu: Matsumae
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Taketomi
2018/02/23 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki City
2018/02/22 - Southern Odyssey - Ishigaki Island
2018/02/21 - Southern Odyssey - Iriomote
2018/02/20 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa to Iriomote
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa WW2 Sites
2018/02/19 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 5 Southern Attractions
2018/02/18 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 4 Naha
2018/02/17 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 3
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ocean Expo Park
2018/02/16 - Southern Odyssey - Ie Island
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Hanami Report
2018/02/15 - Southern Odyssey - Okinawa Day 1
2018/02/14 - Southern Odyssey - Amami to Okinawa
2018/02/13 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 3
2018/02/12 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 2
2018/02/11 - Southern Odyssey - Amami Day 1
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2017/07/03 - Otaru to Shikotsu - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Otaru - Hokkaido
2017/07/02 - Yoichi - Hokkaido
2017/07/01 - Biei to Sapporo - Hokkaido
2017/06/30 - Sounkyo Onsen to Biei - Hokkaido
2017/06/29 - Shibetsu to Sounkyu Onsen - Hokkaido
2017/06/28 - Hokkaido: Wakkanai to Shibetsu
2017/06/27 - Rebun Island - Lake Kushu & Kafuka
2017/06/26 - Rebun Island - Momoiwa Course
2017/06/25 - Rishiri Island - Hokkaido
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2017/06/22 - Asuka & Sakurai - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/22 - Nara Yamoto 4 Temple Pilgrimage
2017/06/21 - Yoshino - Nara Prefecture
2017/06/20 - Sakai - Osaka Prefecture
2017/06/19 - Osaka - Namba Area
2017/06/19 - Western Osaka
2017/06/18 - Kansai & Hokkaido Trip Intro & Central Osaka
2017/02/06 - Closed Kurume - Fukuoka
2017/02/05 - Miyazaki to Kobayashi
2017/02/04 - Obi Castle Town - Miyazaki
2017/02/04 - Nichinan Coast - Miyazaki
2017/02/03 - Gardens & Museums of Miyazaki City
2017/02/02 - Shrines of Takachiko - Miyazaki
2017/02/01 - Usuki City - Oita
2017/01/31 - Hita & Surrounds - Oita
2017/01/31 - Yufuin Onsen - Oita
2017/01/30 - Hells of Beppu
2017/01/30 - Oita City - Oita
2017/01/29 - Kitsuki Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Hiji Castle Town - Oita
2017/01/28 - Templing in Kunisaki Hanto
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2016/08/01 - Fukuoka's Gion Temple Cluster
2016/07/31 - Unzen Onsen - Nagasaki Prefecture
2016/07/31 - Shimabara - Nagasaki Prefecture
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2016/07/29 - Nagasaki City - Southern Attractions
2016/07/29 - Hashima - Nagasaki Prefecture
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2016/07/27 - Huis Ten Bosch Day 1 (Night)
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2016/07/24 - Yutoku Inari Shrine
2016/07/24 - Ureshino - Saga
2016/07/23 - Yoshinogari Park - Saga
2016/07/23 - Saga City - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/22 - Yobuko - Saga Prefecture
2016/07/21 - Karatsu City - Saga
2016/07/20 - Mojiko - Fukuoka
2016/07/20 - Kokura - Fukuoka
2016/07/19 - Dazaifu - Fukuoka
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2016/02/20 - Okayama Museum Cluster - Okayama Prefecture
2016/02/19 - Marugame & Kotohira - Kagawa Prefecture
2016/02/18 - Matsuyama - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/17 - Uchihiko - Ehime
2016/02/17 - Ozu - Ehime Prefecture
2016/02/16 - Seiyo
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2016/02/15 - Kochi to Otsuki
2016/02/14 - Kochi - Kochi - Kochi
2016/02/13 - Toyo to Yasu via Aki
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2016/02/11 - Takamatsu to Naruto
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2016/02/11 - Artsy Naoshima: Tsutsuji-so to Miyanoura Port
2016/02/10 - Takamatsu - Kagawa Prefecture
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2015/07/19 - Food in Japan
2015/07/15 - Hongu Taisha - Wakayama
2015/07/14 - Shingu & Ogi Matsuri - Wakayama
2015/07/13 - Nachi Taisha & Kii-Katsuura - Wakayama
2015/07/12 - Kii-Tanabe & Kumano Kodo - Wakayama
2015/07/10 - Wacky Wakayama City - Wakayama
2015/07/08 - Tottori City - Tottori Prefecture
2015/07/06 - Izushi - Hyogo
2015/07/05 - Kinosaki Onsen - Hyogo
2015/07/04 - Yamanaka Onsen - Ishikawa
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2015/07/02 - Eastern Noto Peninsula Drive - Ishikawa
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2015/06/29 - Coastal Itoigawa - Niigata
2015/06/28 - Kurobe Dam Railway - Toyama
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2015/06/26 - Rural Iiyama & Nozawa Onsen - Nagano
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2015/06/23 - Kusatsu Onsen - Gunma
2015/06/21 - Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/20 - Tsuruoka to Dewa Sanzan - Yamagata
2015/06/19 - Tsuruoka Town - Yamagata
2015/06/18 - Haruna Jinja - Gunma
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2014/06/22 - Narita & Sawara - My Last Post!
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2014/06/07 - Ajiro Onsen
2014/05/17 - Gifu City
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2014/02/08 - Eiheiji & Fukui City
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2013/12/30 - Akiyoshido Cave - Yamaguchi Prefecture
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2013/12/28 - Hiroshima
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2013/12/08 - Ito - Through The Seasons
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2013/11/25 - Kyoto Autumn Report - Arashiyama Part 1
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2013/11/17 - Showa Kinen Koen
2013/11/10 - Kofu City - Autumn Report
2013/11/09 - Shosenkyo Gorge - Autumn Report
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2013/10/25 - Hirosaki Castle Park & Surrounds - Autumn
2013/10/24 - Oirase Stream - Autumn Report
2013/10/23 - Lake Towada & Yasumiya - Autumn Report
2013/10/22 - Rural Tono - Autumn Report
2013/10/21 - Tono - Shrine Cluster
2013/10/20 - Central Tono - Iwate
2013/10/19 - Urabandai - Autumn Report
2013/10/02 - Kamikochi - Autumn Report
2013/09/29 - Mito - Ibaraki Prefecture
2013/09/28 - Rural Fukuroda & Ibaraki Flower Park
2013/09/14 - Atami - Shizuoka Prefecture
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2013/08/12 - Mt Asahidake - Daisetsuzan National Park
2013/08/11 - Asahiyama Zoo - Asahikawa
2013/08/10 - Sapporo - Summer & Autumn
2013/08/08 - Lake Toya - Hokkaido
2013/08/07 - Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
2013/08/06 - Osorezan - Shimokita Peninsula
2013/08/04 - Akita Kanto Matsuri
2013/08/03 - Yumoto Onsen to Chuzenji Lake Walk
2013/07/11 - Kyoto - Daigo-ji Temple
2013/07/10 - Kyoto - Mt Hieizan
2013/07/09 - Kyoto - Ohara
2013/07/07 - Kyoto - Koryuji Area
2013/07/06 - Uji - Summer
2013/07/05 - Hikone
2013/07/04 - Kyoto Station & Surroundings Attractions
2013/06/01 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 2
2013/05/26 - Tokyo Parks & Gardens - Part 1
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2013/05/18 - Aizu Wakamatsu (Fukushima Prefecture)
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2013/05/11 - A Rainy Hiraizumi
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2013/04/27 - Yonezawa Cherry Blossom Report
2013/04/20 - Nikko's Main Temples & Shrines
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2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report - Odawara Castle
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2013/03/09 - Minami-Izu Cherry Blossom Festival
2013/03/09 - Kawazu Cherry Blossom Matsuri & Kawazu Falls
2013/03/08 - Kamakura - Hase Area Walk
2013/03/03 - Kawaguchiko - Fuji Five Lakes
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2013/02/17 - Yamagata - An Unexpected Day Trip
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2013/02/15 - Sendai - Winter
2013/02/14 - Matsushima - Winter
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