Photo contest winners vividly capture everyday charms of ‘Tohoku’s capital’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants in the Sendai Photoroll in Chushinbu Shotengai photo contest look at an old map of the area on Jan. 30 in Sendai as they listen to a lecture given by “Matsuo Basho,” a member of the Date Bushotai tourism promotion group.

The winning entries have been announced for the Sendai Photoroll in Chushinbu Shotengai photo contest, in which participants competed to gain points awarded for pictures they’ve taken of famous places in Sendai’s Aoba Ward.

The event took place in the city’s central shopping district on Jan. 30 and 31 and was coordinated by Machikuru Sendai, a local nonprofit organization. Participants were awarded additional points for pictures of food eaten at designated restaurants or souvenirs bought in the district during the competition.

Each of the winners entered the contest under a pseudonym. The grand prize went to takashi____n for their entry, “Yuki no Inari Koji” (The snowy Inari-koji street); while an entrant who went by Shomin won second with their piece, “Ue o Muite Aruko” (Walking along looking up) and hiro_kurokawa also took second with their piece, “Genso no Akai Chochin” (The illusory red lanterns).

Courtesy of takashi____n
“Yuki no Inari Koji” (The snowy Inari-koji street)
Courtesy of Shomin
“Ue o Muite Aruko” (Walking along looking up)
Courtesy of hiro_kurokawa
“Genso no Akai Chochin” (The illusory red lanterns)

Inari-koji street, featured in the winning photo, is located in the heart of the city and lined with restaurants and bars.

“This picture captures Inari-koji street as it is now, with very few people because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The street’s beauty and loneliness stand out, and the photographer’s fervent wish for revitalization is palpable,” said “Date Masamune,” a contest judge who goes by a pseudonym borrowed from the daimyo who ruled the area about 400 years ago. He also serves as a member of the tourism promotion group Date Bushotai.

The event saw a total of 17 entrants from within the Tohoku region. For each photo taken at one of 23 checkpoints set up in the shopping districts, participants received from two to four points. An additional eight to 10 points were awarded to participants who dined at designated restaurants and shopped in designated stores.

The participants were also able to enjoy strolling through the city accompanied by two other members of the tourism promotion group who also use names taken from historical figures related to Sendai: “Matsuo Basho,” a famed haiku poet, and “Hasekura Tsunenaga,” an emissary to Europe in the early 1600s. Through the use of old maps and historical information provided by the tourism group members, the entrants visited many of the city’s famous spots, including the morning market.

“You can discover so many things by reading old maps. Even though I often walk by many of these places, I’ve begun to see them in a new light after hearing about the area’s background,” said Chihiro Takahashi, a company employee from the city’s Izumi Ward, who took part in the event.