Buildings whose arms clamber over one another to reach the sky; the millions of people working day-after-day with 9pm being an “early” home time; the tourists scrambling over one another to take a photo of kimono-clad dog (I was one of them!); old market-style streets in Asakusa with 300 yen ramen shops that aren’t shown on tourist maps; random temples that can only be found through exploring, minus the map, as if time stood still in just that little space. This is just a glimpse of the never-ending gloriousness that you can only find in Tokyo.
9 hours drive north-west of Tokyo, in a town which currently has just over 110,000 people, is where I was born and raised for the first one and a half years of my life. This town is called Sakata and is situated in the Yamagata prefecture. It’s small but extremely picturesque with vast fields of rice paddies, and Mount Chokaizan, the Mount Fuji of the Tohoku region, as the backdrop. I usually return here to visit my relatives once a year.
Some cool facts about Sakata:
1. They are the birthplace of Sakata Rice Crackers!
2. The Japanese film Departures (Okuribito) which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film 2009 and also the film which I was crying 99% of the time was filmed here.
Unfortunately I had one of those camera moments where I left my memory card in the computer on the ONLY clear day that Mount Chokaizan was visible (extremely rare in the winter months), so I couldn’t take any photo’s of the mountain. But here are some photo’s I took when I was wandering around, something I only did once when I was there due to the low temperatures (average maximum temp was probably 2 degrees).