THE HIDDEN TREASURES OF SHONAI, YAMAGATA
Located in the northwestern part of Yamagata Prefecture, north Honshu, the Shonai region is an ancient land that for centuries served as the breadbasket of old Tokyo. Or rather, its rice bowl, since it was Shonai where the Tokugawa shogunate decided to concentrate their rice production in order to feed Edo in the 17th century.
Even today, the area hasn’t forgotten its roots, producing some of the best rice and, consequently, some of the best sake in the world. But Shonai isn’t just about physical nourishment. It’s also where you can replenish your spirits.
A SPIRITUAL CENTER
The Shonai region is one of the main centers of Shugendo in Japan. Shugendo is a syncretic religion combining aspects of Shinto, Buddhism, animism, and shamanism. It’s especially focused on mountain asceticism, as part of Shugendo’s beliefs is that mountains are where departed souls and the gods reside, and that in order to get closer to them on a spiritual level, one must first train their body and deny it earthly pleasures.