The train trundles goes from one station to the next. Farmers and shopkeepers return home after a long day at work and young students talk quietly. The odd tourist looks distractedly out of the panoramic windows. Outside rice fields alternate with small villages while the mountains silhouettes stand out over the horizon. On the other side long beaches and rocky cliffs shine under the warm sunlight.
Japan has more than 29,000 km of coastline from Russia to Taiwan, and with such diversity you can be assured of countless places of majesty and brilliance. On the way from Yamagata to Akita there is a mostly unknown place called Juroku Rakan Iwa. Located in the small town of Fukura these cliffs look fairly standard at first sight. On closer inspection you will see that they are literally dotted with sculptures. Here, between 1864 and 1868, a Buddhist monk carved directly into the volcanic shore 22 busts portraying the Sixteen Arhats (a group of famous Buddhist figures who reached Nirvana). Once you note the first you will start see those peaceful smiles everywhere. Despite being right next to the road the atmosphere is serene. Waves crash on the rocks covering the car noise and the wind blows carrying moisture and saltiness in the air. In the background the sunset crowns the surroundings creating a view that you won't easily forget.
It is a 110 minute train trip from Akita to Fukura stations. From Fukura station, follow highway route 345 going north. The site is just a 15 minutes away on foot.