Yamabiko Shinkansen

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My 新幹線 (shinkansen) home. Yamabiko (やまびこ). It’s a double-decked version of a shinkansen. I was supposed to leave on a later train. Later and faster… But my companions wanted to leave earlier… so… you know the rest. Apparently if you have a reserved seat ticket, you can also use it to ride any other shinkansen with non-reserved seats. Gives you flexibility when traveling.

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My crazy companions in Sendai.

Would you prefer to ride on top or be at the bottom ^^?

長浜ラーメン (Nagahama Ramen)

I was hunting around for a good Sendai beef tongue ramen (仙台牛タンラーメン) to have before the trip back to Tokyo. I found a shop, but it only opened in the evening. So ended up having a meal here instead. Pretty good ramen. You have a choice between how full flavored you want your soup to be. But the interesting thing is that you have a choice of 3 kinds of ramen. The noodles. 仙台風、博多風、九州風。Sendai-styled, Hakata-styled or Kyusyu-styled. Most ramen parlors have some kind of special lunch service. Here, you can choose between an onigiri or more noodles. (Yeah, lots of choices to make here ^^). The noodles come after. Like a second helping or おかわり. So if you do make it there at lunch time, you’ll get to try out two different kinds of noodles. Don’t think they will refill your bowl with soup though. Remember to leave some soup in your bowl for your second serving.

Nagahama Tonkotsu Ramen.

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The shop front. It’s right next to a convenience store (I think it’s sunkus).

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I don’t remember well, but it’s in that area. Right off one of the smaller lanes that branch off from the main path. Search for the convenience store and look in the path next to it. You should see the exact same thing in the picture above. Funny I actually found this place when I went into the convenience store to ask the clerk to recommend me a ramen place. And he hasn’t been to this one yet ^^!

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Do you have a favorite ramen shop? If so, where is it?

Around Sendai Castle (仙台城)

Took the Sendai city loope (loop) bus. Goes round and round the city. The bus comes every 20 minutes on weekdays and 15 on weekends. A one-day pass costs ¥600. Great value.

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I was traveling with a chinese friend. So he had to go visit Lu Xun‘s monument. This was a stop before Sendai Castle.

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And Goemon just had to see Data Masamune’s bust while we were there. Who is Date Masamune?

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You just have to love that crescent moon headgear.

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Goemon’s so tiny ^^.

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Here’s me with Lord Date.

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This is how you carry your gorillapod when you’re not using it as a camera tripod. I love this tool.

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Alighting from the bus stop, behold! The gate to Sendai Castle. The stone base you see on the left is the original castle base. Not a replica. It survived various wars including WWII.

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The famous large equestrian statue of Date Masamune.

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The statue without Goemon in the way.

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From the front. You can see the spectacular city view in the background. But from the angle he’s at, he isn’t looking over the city. I wonder what he’s looking at.

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This is just me playing with monotone.

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I guess if you were a foot soldier kneeling before him, this is how he would have looked. Intimidating.

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A clear shot of Date Masamune.

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The Gokoku Shrine (Gokoku-jinja 護国神社) on site where the main castle grounds were.

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School girls on a trip. I reckon Japanese school kids get more excursions than everyone else. You think so?

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Goemon taking in the city view from Sendai Castle.

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If it’s one thing I learnt on my visit to Sendai Castle, it has be to this. My friend makes a very ugly girl ^^.

I also wanted to visit the family graves of the Date clan. Didn’t have time. If you do happen to go, let me know how it went. Gotta plan another trip down to Sendai sometime soon ^^.

Matsushima(松島)in Sendai

If you’re in Sendai, try to make a trip down to Matsushima. It’s one of the “Three views of Japan”, which loosely means “Gotta see”! It’s a group of about 260 small scattered islands covered with pine trees. It’s not so far from Sendai station. Under half an hour by train. Check here for tourist information. I didn’t have much time to spend there, only a few hours this first trip. Although I walked from Matsushima station on the Tohoku main line (東北本線) to the Matsushima-kaigan (松島海岸) station on the Senseki line (仙石線), I would recommend going straight to Matsushima-kaigan station if you’re going there for the first time. Most of the attractions are located there. There are 4 different vantage points to view Matsushima bay from. 2 of which are nearer to Matsushima station. I didn’t go to those 2 places.

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This is the path I took.

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Matsushima station. You can only get small stations like this far far away from big big metropolitan cities.

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Matsushima bay.

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Fukuurabashi. This bridge is pretty famous. Costs ¥200 to cross.

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Just before crossing the bridge.

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Goemon viewing the bay.

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Lots of small boats like these around. People who own one don’t have to pay the ¥200 toll for crossing Fukuurabashi.

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On the other end of Fukuurabashi. Fukuurajima. I think she’s collecting oysters. This area is pretty famous for oysters too… besides beef tongue.

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Running out of time… gotta walk back across the bridge.

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Goemon posing on the bridge.

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If you were as short as him, this is what you would see.

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Fukuurabashi from afar.

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Took a cruise around the bay. When the ship left the harbor, the seagulls followed. I wonder why…

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Because they get fed! Smart little devils aren’t they ^^.

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Lots of islands from here on.

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Islands…

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Islands again…
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If I remember correctly, this one is called 仁王島. Looks like a man sitting on a chair.

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Natural gas power station. Fill me with peas and I’ll be abundant with natural gas ^^.

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One of the 日本三景 (Nihon sankei, Three views of Japan), Matsushima.

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A bridge leading to Godaido Hall.

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If you strain your eyes, you can see a couple walking across Fukuurabashi.

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During sakura season, you can go ohanami (お花見), watching flowers. When a big wave comes, you can go ツナ見 (tunami), watching tuna ^^. Just kidding. It’s suppose to read “Tsunami”. But with Japanese input, “tsu” and “tu” give the same つ character.

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Taken in Zuiganji temple. Has rich history dating back to the Heian period. Lots of dragon pine trees there. Tall too!

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Date Masamune. I asked, this is not a Date Masamune onigiri.

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Destination point Matsushima-kaigan station.

I hope to go back there sometime. Hopefully next time, I’ll be able to linger longer and have my slr with me. Because there was a typhoon report, I left it at home and only brought along the compact ><. What do you think? Wanna go there yourself sometime in the future?

仙台牛タン(Sendai beef tongue)

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What’s good to eat in Sendai? Beef tongue (牛タン) of course!

Nope, we didn’t have beef tongue at a restaurant called “Sperm”. Just chanced upon this clothes shop with a strange name.

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The shopping arcade in Sendai, Ichibancho Shopping District.

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Was told this place is famous for its beef tongue.

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Spiderman deciding what to order. 牛タン定食 (beef tongue set, comes with grilled beef tongue, rice and Japanese-style oxtail soup) is usually what you order if you were alone.

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Other things on the menu.

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Grilled beef tongue! Look at how thick it is!

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Want a bite too ^^?

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This is beef tongue sashimi(牛タン刺). Raw! I don’t think this counts as french kissing a cow.

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Yummy stuff.

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Spidey’s waiting for the next dish.

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Beef tongue stew!

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Ikkitako(活たこ刺). Live octopus sashimi. Wasn’t really moving when I ate it, but I was told it was 2 seconds ago before it came to our table.

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Good beer to match good food.

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I forgot the name of this ice-cream, but it’s bitter tea-flavored. Also yummy.

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Ate too much. Need some water to wash it down.

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The other end of the Ichibancho, SunMall Ichibancho

みなとみらい Minatomirai

Another leisurely Sunday stroll. I take this route pretty often and it ends at a park on top of a hill which overlooks the harbor. There’s even a rose garden in the park. If you’re thinking of seeing blooming roses, you might want to plan a trip there soon… real soon. Once at the end, you can decide to head off to Motomachi, Chinatown or make another trip back to catch the pretty ferris wheel lights ^^.

p.s. There was an African Festival today. Anyone been to Africa?

Botanical Gardens in Ofuna (フラワーセンター大船植物園)

Ofuna isn’t far from Yokohama. Just 3-4 stations away… although the distance between each station is quite a bit. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to try walking there ^^. From Ofuna station, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk to the botanical gardens. Check the link here. It’s all in Japanese though. Just continue walking along the river that runs parallel to the train tracks. The Botanical Gardens will be on your right. Hard to miss. The weather was pretty cloudy when I went, hence you won’t see any blue skies in the photos above. If you’re a student. Entry’s gonna set you back ¥250. Else it’s ¥350. Bring along a picnic basket, a picnic mat, a good book (perhaps a great date too?) and you can spend the whole day surrounded by flowers. Remember, flowers are seasonal. Don’t expect to see what I took if you decide to go in June. You might be surprised and see something better ^^!

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