The small town of Tendo in Yamagata Prefecture is dominated by its one major manufacture - Japanese chess (shogi) pieces.
Tendo produces over 90% of all shogi pieces produced in Japan and evidence of this trade is everywhere: on the roofs of taxis, on bridges, above post boxes and of course on the town's manhole covers.
The trade was begun by down-at-heel samurai at the end of the Edo Period. For visitors interested in the complex game, the Tendo Shogi Museum (Tel: 023 653 1690) is a good place to start. The museum is part of the JR station building and includes exhibits of chess pieces from Japan and overseas. Next door is a shogi exchange center (Tel: +81236510520) where a group of men seem constantly to be playing the game.
Tendo also hosts a human shogi game in April with participants dressed as samurai characters. The meeting place for the event is south of the station near Lake Atago and it is possible to volunteer to take part if you are over 16 years of age.
There are numerous shops around town where visitors can see shogi pieces being made and pick up a set.
Tendo also has an onsen area, a Hiroshige Museum (Tel: +81236536555) displaying wood-blocks by the Edo Period print artist and a Museum of Automatic Musical Instruments (Tel: 023 651 0656) known as (oregoru オレゴール) in Japanese. known as (oregoru オレゴール) in Japanese.
Tendo is 2 hours 50 minutes from Tokyo Station via Yamagata city. The nearest airport is Yamagata Airport which is a 10-15 minute taxi or bus ride away. There are flights to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, Nagoya, Osaka and Sapporo. Tendo is within fairly easy access of Zao Onsen and the Okama crater lake.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
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