The Excursion to Yamagata

山形旅行記

ある夏の週末、私は唐突に山形県に旅行に行くことを思いつきました。事の発端は職場の方々との松島の話でした。「松島って松尾芭蕉ですら俳句で言い表せなかった絶景なのですよね」などと話しているときに、芭蕉が俳句で表現できた絶景を味わっていないことにふと気付きました。『静けさや岩にしみいる蝉の声』の句で有名な山寺です。
(俳句とは五・七・五の17音を定型とし、季語や切字を含む短詩です。)

One summer weekend, I suddenly decided to take a trip to Yamagata Prefecture. A talk about Matsushima with my colleagues was the motivation for my trip. When I said to them, “Matsushima had such a marvelous view that even Basho, one of the best haiku masters, could not describe it”, I happened to realize that I had never seen the marvelous view about which Basho composed a haiku. It is a temple famous for his haiku:
“Shizukesa-yaiwa-ni shimiiru semi-no-koe” (“Such stillness The sound of cicadas Seeps into the rocks”)
(Haiku is a very short form of Japanese poetry in 3 lines of 5-7-5, only 17 syllables, with Kigo, a reference to the season word and Kireji, an evocative cut off phrase.)

そもそも山形県は蔵王に行ったことがある他はほとんど行ったことがありませんでした。春は桜を愛でて、夏は猛暑を潜り抜け、秋は芋煮(山形県の郷土料理で、里芋やいろいろな野菜などの材料と薄切りの牛肉か豚肉を煮込んだ汁物)を楽しみ、冬は厳しい寒さを温泉で癒す、そんな勝手なイメージを抱いていました。行ったことのないところに妄想を膨らませるだけでは、隣県に住んでいるのに勿体ないと思いました。しかもその週末はおよそ2カ月ぶりの仕事が入っていない日曜日を過ごせます。こんな絶好の機会を逃すまいと、土曜日昼で仕事が終わった後に慌てて家に帰り旅支度をして出発しました。

Actually, I had been to hardly any places in Yamagata Prefecture except Zao. I had the image of Yamagata as follows: in spring they enjoy cherry blossoms, in summer they bear the intense heat, in autumn they enjoy imo-ni (a local specialty of Yamagata Prefecture: a type of soup made of taro, some other vegetables and thin slices of beef or pork) and in winter they survive the severe cold in onsens (hot-spring bathing). I thought it was not good to be lost in fantasies about the prefecture I had never been to as I lived in a neighboring prefecture. Moreover, I could take off from work on the Sunday of that weekend for the first time in 2 months. I could not miss the opportunity to take the trip; therefore, I hurriedly went back home to get ready for the trip and left for Yamagata.

山形県は案の定とても近く、郡山市からは1時間半ほどであっという間に山形市に到着しました。まずは栄屋本店の冷やしラーメンで腹ごしらえをしました。氷が入っているがスープが薄くなることはなく、涼やかにラーメンを楽しむことが出来ました。

As I had expected, Yamagata Prefecture was very close, and it took only one and half hours from Koriyama City to Yamagata City. First, I ate hiyashi-ramen (Chinese noodles in cold soup). It was delicious and refreshing, and the ice in the soup did not lessen the flavor.

その後は旧山形県庁へ向かいました。某映画のロケ地であったこともあり興味があって伺ったが、大正時代(1912-1926)の建物が現在も綺麗に保存されていました。この重厚感とモダンな雰囲気は現代で再現しようとしても非常に難しいに違いありません。

After lunch, I went to the old Yamagata Prefectural Office. I was interested in this building because a certain movie was shot there. It was built in the Taisho era (1912-1926); however, it is still in a good state of preservation. It must be very difficult to maintain such a massive and modern building in the present day.

そうこうしているうちに夕方になってしまったので、夕食に芋煮と地酒を堪能して初日は終了となりました。

While all of this was going on, it became dark in the evening on the first day of the trip. After I had imo-ni and locally brewed sake, I went to bed.

2日目は早起きしてまず山寺へ参拝しました。山寺の通称で親しまれていますが、正式名称は宝珠山立石寺です。その通称の通り、奥之院と大仏殿にたどり着くには山肌に沿って階段を1015段も上らなければなりませんでした。

On the next day, I got up early and first went to Yama-dera Temple to pray. The temple is known by many people by the name of Yama-dera, however, its official name is Hoshu-zan Risshaku-ji Temple. As its common name indicates, I had to climb up 1015 steps towards the top of the mountain.

芭蕉が夏の句を詠んだところなのだから、当然夏に来るのが良いだろうと思いましたが、やはり正解でした。階段をひたむきに上がる人間に蝉の鳴き声が降っていました。参拝者が多く賑やかでしたので静けさとはほど遠かったものの、松尾芭蕉が句に詠んだ当時の雰囲気の一端を知ることが出来た気がしました。

Basho composed the haiku of summer there; therefore, I thought that summer was the best season to visit the temple. And this was the perfect choice. Cicadas were singing above the worshippers eagerly climbing stairs. It was far from silent because of many worshipers, and still I felt the atmosphere which had inspired Basho.

お寺を参拝した後は、山形一寸亭の冷やし肉そばで腹ごしらえを済ませて蔵王へ車を走らせました。

After I worshiped in the temple, I ate hiyashi-niku-soba (cold buckwheat noodles with beef) and drove to Zao.

以前も行ったことがあったがあまりに天気が良かったため、御釜まで足を伸ばし絶景を堪能しました。天候によっては湖が見えないことも多いようですが、前回同様今回も素晴らしい景色を楽しむことが出来たのは僥倖でした。

I had been to Zao before, but it was perfect weather to visit it again and drive up the mountain to Okama which is often invisible because of the weather. Fortunately, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery just as I did the previous time I went there.

蔵王温泉大露天風呂では汗を流しました。自然と独特の硫黄の匂いの中、源泉掛け流しの湯にゆっくりとつかりました。
And then, I took a bath at the great open-air spa of Zao Onsen (Zao Hot Spring). I had a good soak in the 100% fresh-flowing hot-spring with the smell of sulfur surrounded by nature.

米沢市へ向かう途中で、高畠町にある犬の宮・猫の宮に立ち寄り、3頭の愛犬たちの健康を祈念しました。ここには村を守ってくれた犬と猫が祀られており、全国からペットの供養や健康祈願のため多くの人が参拝します。参拝した際にも愛犬・愛猫の写真が数多く奉納されていました。

On the way to Yonezawa City, I dropped in at Inu-no-miya Shrine and Neko-no-miya Shrine (Dog & Cat Shrine) in Takahata Town to pray for my three beloved dogs. The dog and the cat which guarded the village were enshrined. Many people visit this shrine for their dogs and cats to have memorial services or pray for their health. I saw many photos of their pet dogs and cats.

米沢市では上杉神社を参拝しました。上杉神社は軍神上杉謙信を祀っており、彼に仕えた直江兼続にも縁のある地です。兼続は大河ドラマで人気が出た戦国時代の武将です。

In Yonezawa Ctiy, I went and prayed at Uesugi Shrine where Uesugi Kenshin, the God of War was enshrined. This shrine is also related to his retainer and general, Naoe Kanetsugu, who became popular by a Taiga Drama (A Taiga Drama is the annual, year-long serial TV drama of Japanese historical fiction broadcast by NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster).

そして、米沢といえば何と言っても米沢牛。早めの夕食として米沢牛亭ぐっどで贅沢に米沢牛を堪能し、大満足の1泊2日の旅は終了となりました。

Moreover, when speaking of Yonezawa, many people must think of Yonezawa Beef; therefore, I enjoyed a gorgeous dish of Yonezawa Beef for an early dinner at a restaurant called “Yonezawa-gyu-tei Good”. I was extremely satisfied with my 2-day and 1-night trip.

お土産には乃し梅本舗佐藤屋のお菓子を持って帰りました。創業190年の老舗ですが、それ以外にチョコレートのお菓子や黒文字の葉を練りこんだ羊羹など様々な新しい取り組みをされています。

I bought some sweets as gifts at Sato-ya which is a long-established shop with a 190-year history and famous for noshi-ume. This shop developed new products such as sweets made from chocolate and yokan made of leaves of kuro-moji.

乃し梅も非常に上品な味で何故か食べていて嬉しくなってしまいました。(乃し梅とは山形県村山地方や茨城県水戸市の銘菓です。)

乃し梅の作り方
[1] 梅の果肉をすりつぶしたものに、砂糖と葛粉か寒天を混ぜる。
[2] とろ火で[1]を煮た後に乾かす。
[3] 竹の皮で挟む。

Noshi-ume is a jelly-like sweet made from the mashed flesh of Japanese apricots.
(Noshi-ume is a famous confection representing the Murayama region in Yamagata Prefecture and Mito City in Ibaraki Prefecture.)

How to Make Noshi-ume
[1] Mash the flesh of Japanese apricots and add sugar and kudzu flour or agar powder.
[2] Simmer [1] and dry it.
[3] Put [2] between bamboo leaves.

今回の旅は日程の制限もあり、庄内地方や最上地方までは足を伸ばせませんでした。きっとまだ知らない名所や美味しい名物もたくさんあるでしょう。是非また機会を作って山形へ伺いたいと思います。

I did not have enough time to travel to the Shonai or Mogami Regions. I am sure that there are a lot of places and delicious foods that I do not know yet. I will definitely take a trip to Yamagata again.