Tendo Onsen: A Revitalizing Hot Spring at the heart of Japan’s Largest Producer of “Shogi” Pieces


Tendo Onsen

Situated roughly in the center of Yamagata Prefecture, Tendo Onsen is located near a station of the same name – Tendo Station – on the Yamagata Shinkansen Line. A direct Shinkansen train from Tokyo will have you there in about three hours one-way, or should you fly, the town is approximately 15 minutes by car from Yamagata Airport, making it easily accessible from all over the country. This area, thanks to its convenient location, serves as a sightseeing hub for the prefecture, attracting many visitors.

The history of Tendo Onsen goes back to more than 100 years, starting when a hot spring suddenly began to gush out from a rice field in 1911. The clear, colorless, sulphate-containing and mildly alkaline water is known for its superior skin tone enhancing qualities, and for leaving skin feeling soft to the touch. It is also said to offer a wide range of health benefits, such as alleviating joint pain, improving blood circulation, and aiding recovery from fatigue. You can enjoy this remarkable water at onsen hotels, drop-in public bathhouses, and one of three footbath facilities.

Tendo, a producer of more than 90 percent of Japan’s shogi pieces, is a renowned “Shogi Paradise.” On a stroll around the town, you will often come across artistic works influenced by shogi culture. For instance, visitors may encounter them on unexpected places such as electric poles and sidewalks. During the annual “Tendo Sakura Matsuri” festival in April, an event called the “Ningen Shogi” (human shogi) is held atop Mt. Maizuru, a famous cherry blossom site, during which individuals don historical armor to resemble the different ranks of shogi pieces, while professional shogi players use these “pieces” to take on each other for the entertainment of festival goers.

You can see shogi-themed designs all over the town, and even the onsen facilities are no exception. For instance, one onsen hotel features a huge shogi piece in its large bathing area. Another example is the footbath facility – “Koma no Yu” – near “Michi no Eki Tendo Onsen,” which has a wooden centerpiece in the middle of the bath resembling the shape of a shogi piece when viewed from above.

One of the largest spring events in Tendo: the “Ningen Shogi at Tendo Sakura Matsuri.” You can enjoy a spectacular live-action shogi match on Mt. Maizuru performed against a beautiful backdrop of nearly 2,000 cherry trees in full bloom.

Each of the bridges on the Kuratsu River, flowing through the center of Tendo City, is named after a shogi piece, such as “Osho-bashi” (King Bridge) and “Kinsho-bashi” (Gold General Bridge) and are decorated with a statue of the corresponding shogi piece on their railings.


[From the editor] 
If you are interested in the regional dishes of Tendo, I highly recommend “Torichuka” – the local ramen! This ramen, consisting of Chinese noodles and chicken, combines a soy-sauce flavored soup with the traditional base stock of bonito and kombu seaweed, typically used for Japanese-style soba. It is said that this dish used to be served as a staff meal at a soba restaurant and eventually became a local specialty.

 <More info> 
Tendo Tourism & Convention Bureau TEL: 023-653-1680

Access Haneda Airport -> 60 min. by plane -> Yamagata Airport -> 15 min. by taxi -> Tendo Onsen Tokyo Sta. -> 3 hr by JR Yamagata Shinkansen -> Tendo Sta.
URL https://bussan-tendo.gr.jp/

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I was born in Kagoshima Prefecture and have lived in different parts of Kyushu. A lover of food, sake, and hot springs in Kyushu, my goal is to become a “Sen-nin” (hot spring master), the highest rank for those who accomplish the “Tour of the Eighty-eight Hot Springs in Kyushu.” I hope to convey the fascinating aspects of Japan while featuring my beloved homeland Kyushu!

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