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
Access: 10-minute walk from Funaoka Station (750m)
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
Access: 10-minute walk from Funaoka Station (700m)
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
Access: 10-minute drive from Ogawara Station (3.5km)
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
Access: 8-minute walk from Ogawara Station (650m)
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
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.