Yamagata: Communing with the Living and the Dead
Japan's indigenous belief called Shinto worships 8 million deities. Its imported Buddhism addresses the afterlife. Throughout the ages, people have turned to different gods for different occasions. On Journeys in Japan, we encounter rare religious objects venerated in the Murayama region of Yamagata Prefecture.

Maria Kannon

A Mother Mary and Goddess Kannon hybrid, housed at Ryusenji Temple, Higashine City. Reservations to view the statue are required.

Datsueba

A hag in the land of the dead who judges the deceased. Yamagata is home to over 100 Datsueba statues.

Mukasari Votive Paintings (Ema)

Dedicated by parents to a local temple to console the soul of their deceased children.

Access

From Tokyo to Murayama, it takes an hour by air from Haneda to Yamagata. You can also take the Yamagata Shinkansen.