Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tohoku Road Trip: Day 2- Yama-dera Temple and Fruit Picking in Yamagata

After eating breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and drove 20 minutes to Yama-dera Temple.  Yama-dera is a popular mountain temple in Yamagata Prefecture.  The temple is famous for its stunning views, but it is not an easy task to get to the top.  There are 1,015 steps to the top of the mountain temple, and while it seems like it will take a long time to reach the top, the scenery will give everyone energy to make the trek. 
A man praying at the base of Yama-dera
We paid the entrance fee of 300 yen and started our ascent.  It happened to be raining at the time that we went, but it didn’t deter us from making our way to the top.  The pitter-patter of the rain added a peaceful soundtrack to our trek up the mountain.
View from the top
Climbing to the top
The leaves have already started changing color
Yama-dera Temple
After making our way back down, we decided to get lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Yamagata Prefecture is famous for soba, so we both had the cold mountain vegetable soba.  We also saw that they had ice cream, so we got ice cream too!  I got the cherry ice cream, and my friend got the La France, or European Pear flavor.  Both of the flavors were really good!  My friend had only had one bite of hers when it dropped on the ground.  But the clerks were so nice that they gave her another one for free!
Soba Lunch
Cherry-flavored ice cream
La France ice cream, that my friend dropped

We walked around the streets of Yama-dera for a while and looked in some of the cute shops on the way.  We then made our way to a fruit-picking place to pick grapes and peaches!

It only cost us 800 yen for an hour of all-you-can-eat grapes and peaches.  It was heaven.
Niagra Grapes
Delaware Grapes
Goldfinger Grapes
Peach picking

Once we had our fill of delicious fruit, we made our way to Fukushima.  We took a mountain pass and even saw monkeys on the road!
Mountain monkey
We arrived at our lodging for the night, Chalet Urabandai.  The owners were very kind, but the lodging itself was sort of a letdown.  The room we stayed in was small, and the communal bath was not clean. 

We asked the owner where we could go get dinner, and we were surprised to learn that even though it was only 6:00 pm, almost all of the restaurants in the area were closed.  Like, really?!  He did suggest going to il Regalo, a nearby Italian restaurant (which was the only restaurant nearby that was open), which was delicious.  

Steak made from Fukushima beef

Artichoke Pizza
il Regalo Italian Restaurant

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