• Exploring
    Shrines and Temples

    You don’t have to “learn” to appreciate cherry blossoms. Yet at the
    same time, they are deeply connected to the Japanese religion
    and worldview. When winter is over and the world is awaking for
    spring, it is the most suitable time for a small private pilgrimage.
    Explore fascinating local temples and shrines to bring even more
    meaning to your cherry blossom experience!


    Shiratori Shrine

    Feel more confident in your life quest

    “Shiratori” means “white bird” or “swan.” Since ancient times, the people of Shibata-machi and Ogawara-machi worshipped swans— celestial birds and messengers of gods. Many gods (kami) are being enshrined here, but the most important one is Yamato Takeru-no-mikoto—a legendary warrior, who turned into a large white bird after his death. He is a protector of all kinds of fighters, including students and entrepreneurs!


    Address: Funaoka-nishi 1-6-3, Shibata-machi
    Tel: 0224-54-1221

    Access: 10-minute walk from Funaoka Station (750m)


    Daikoji Temple

    Here is where you can witness what a single man can do

    There is a large temple called Daikoji not far from Funaoka Station. In a cave behind the main building, five hundred small statues of rakans—Buddha’s disciples—are enshrined. All of these statues were carved by a single monk in an effort to stop the plague. Imagine this brave man sitting in the cave and carving the statues one by one, praying for his beloved town and its people!


    Address: Funaoka-minami 1-1-7, Shibata-machi
    Tel: 0224-55-1173

    Access: 10-minute walk from Funaoka Station (700m)


    Otakayama Shrine

    Get to know people of the past a little better

    Bathing in cherry blossoms, there is an ancient shrine—a place where many people have turned to have their wishes fulfilled. In the worship hall of this shrine, you can see old ema—wooden pictures containing someone’s prayers and wishes expressed in a metaphorical
    scene. Great warriors of old times, scenes from kabuki, swans—see how Japanese of the past expressed their desires to the gods!


    Address: Daibu 2-1, Kanagase, Ogawara-machi
    Tel: 0224-52-1382

    Access: 10-minute drive from Ogawara Station (3.5km)

    繁昌院 東の寺

    Hanshoin (The Temple of the East)

    Remind yourself that the world is a wonderful place

    Located on the bank of the Shiroishi River, Hanshoin is especially beautiful in the spring, when you can enjoy a view of the cherry trees right from the temple. There are many adorable statues in the
    temple, too—a 1000-year-old statue of Amida Buddha, a 16th century statue of Shakyamuni Buddha from Myanmar and a statue of boddhisattva Kannon with a lovely heart-mark on her face!


    Address: Machi 254, Ogawara-machi
    Tel: 0224-52-2415
    Access: 8-minute walk from Ogawara Station (650m)

    最勝院 西の寺

    Saishoin (The Temple of the West)

    Remind yourself that everything has its origin

    Tortoises carved on the Saishoin gates refer to the temple’s Sango (the name of the metaphorical site upon which the temple is located)—“a mountain of the treasure tortoise,” but they also remind us of the pond that used to be here. Visit to view the majestic garden created by the abbot of Saishoin and to pay homage to the grave of Kaijiro Takayama, who donated the cherry trees to Ogawara-machi.


    Address: Nishiura 229, Ogawara-machi
    Tel: 0224-53-2309

    Access: 10-minute walk from Ogawara Station (800m)

  • "Almost all locations are walking distance from the station!"


    These articles were presented by Aliise Donnere

    Born in Latvia, Donnere is now in the Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University, researching the worshipping of Jizo (Buddhist statues). She has visited more than 200 shrines and temples in Miyagi.