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i ro ha ni ho he to
chi ri nu ru wo
wa ka yo ta re so
tsu ne na ra mu
u wi no o ku ya ma
ke fu ko e te
a sa ki yu me mi shi
we hi mo se su

Though fragrant are the colors,
Yet shall the flowers scatter.
Who in our world
Could forever endure?
Over the mountain of transcendence
Let us today cross,
And there will be no more shallow dreams,
No more drunken illusions.

Kûkai (空海)

We then went on to Yamadera, a famous shrine site east of Yamagata.

Panorama of the countryside on the way to Yamadera

All the while on the way there was a massive meet of big motor bike riders with lots of very fancy tricycles and side cars with trailers. All very sedate by comparison with the fleets of little Kawasakis we would later see in Kyoto and other places, who rode through town madly blarting their exhausts in unison to play a military tune, like the trumpet voluntary.

Yamadera has a complex of shrines up a steep escarpment, where we climbed to the top shrine through the forest. People were, as usual, wafting incense on themselves, clapping twice by the altar and rubbing the Buddhas for good luck. There were a variety of shrines and temples as we wound up the forested stairways and caves and grottoes, with cliff carvings.

A really huge bee

We then drove further North keeping to the edge of major cities.

A local festival en-route

Geothermal activity

Summer view of a ski run near Ichiasama

At Naruko the road crosses a ridiculously deep gorge

Internet image back towards the bridge

We then tried to drive north and then east to the coast, but got completely lost at Obanazawa trying to cross east and ended up staying the night at Kurikoma in a by way near some isolated farms.

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