Japanese people believe looking at the first sunrise of the year (初日の出; hatsunoide) will bring you a good luck and fortune for the whole year. I am not a morning person so it is kinda impossible for me to see it. On 9th January my friend took me to Aoba castle to chasing the sunrise. It is not the first sunrise in 2016, but it is still my first sunrise.. I think it will work the same way and bring me bunch of fortune, rite? Lol.
In Sendai, Aoba castle quite popular to see the sunrise. It was close by my dorm, about 25 min walks. I could see the whole city from the top and I am amazed by the scenery. However it would be better if it was not on winter and freezing.
Aoba Castle (青葉城; Aoba-jo) was built on 1600 by Date Masamune. Date Masamune himself was a well known feudal lord at his time. His turns a rural area of Sendai into prosperous city. He attempted to conquer Aizu castle in Fukushima but then have to give it back. Date Masamune lost one of his eyes due to smallpox as a child, that is why he is known as a one eyed dragon (独眼竜 ; Dokuganryu). There is some Japanese dorama or games featuring Date Masamune including Dokuganryu Masamune that was aired by NHK. It is not hard to recognize him since he has a huge crescent moon on his helmet. The cute Sendai-Miyagi tourism mascot, Musubi Maru, also using huge crescent moon helmet :3
When you come to Aoba castle you would not see any castle at all. My friend running all over the site trying to find the physical castle. The castle ruined during Boshin was and bombing on World War II. They built Date Masamune statue on the castle site as remembrance of the glorious days. On the Aoba castle site, there is a museum with 700 yen admission ticket. But since I came too early for the sunrise the museum not opened yet 😦
There is also a shrine on the castle complex. The Miyagi Gokoku Shrine (宮城県護国神社; Miyagi-ken gokoku jinja) was a special Shinto shrine that built to enshrine those who had died in war. Each prefecture will only have one gokoku shrine. It is said there were around 56000 spirit listed and enshrined here. There were lots of small bottle hanging in front of the shrine which I did not see in any other shrine. I did not know the meaning of the bottles. Since Japan has lots of superstitious i just hope it was not something creepy.