Location: Aoba Ward, Sendai
A Nature Filled Day Trip
One of the best ways to rest is to leave the town for a day and go to a place where you can enjoy being in contact with nature, where scenery is breathtaking and every breath you take makes you stronger and healthier. Not far from the majestic Johgi Nyorai, there is another place that is worth visiting - Okura dam. And this is just that kind of a place that we need to escape our worries for some time.
Okura dam, built in 1961, is worth visiting for two main reasons - first of all, it is a multiple arch dam, that is very rare. In Japan, there are only two dams of this kind - Okura dam and Honen-ike dam in Kanagawa prefecture. The second reason is the view from the dam! And this is simply indescribable, it just has to be seen.
These are the main reasons, but I think that there are many more. For example, this place is very peaceful. Almost no people around, but instead you can see some birds, snow monkeys, Japanese serow and even some wild boars, but be careful, though! Wild animals are not always delighted to meet a human being, so they are better watched from afar.
One more reason, beside monkeys - it has such a nostalgic country side appeal, that you almost get a deja vu - everything seems so familiar and lovable. There is a small buddhist temple, Seishoji, not far from the dam, and I strongly recommend you to check it out, not because it is somehow notable, but just because you it differs so much from city temples - small, cosy and simple.
On the other side of the road, there is a small shinto shrine - Ogura jinjya. The locals say that the kami enshrined there is being venerated here from ancient times.
Okura dam can be easily accessed with the same bus that goes to Johgi Nyorai, but my advice is a challenge - try going there by bike! It seems very hard, but the road is pretty easy, no big ups and downs. It took me 2 hours to get there, and I am not a very experienced cyclist. One thing that you should think about - take some food with you. It is a 100% rural area with no convenience stores and restaurants, and it adds a final touch to its appeal, at least for me.