The Fountain of Ideas – Yonezawa, Japan - Atlas Obscura

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The Fountain of Ideas

Yonezawa, Japan

Ward off bad luck and fill your bottle with "the most watery water" at this little roadside shrine in Yonezawa. 


Located along the main road to the historical center of the city of Yonezawa in Japan’s Yamagata Prefecture, this funny little homemade shrine is an amusing pit stop. Within the humble precincts of the shrine, you will find small stone statues of the three wise monkeys: Mizaru, who sees no evil, Kikazaru, who hears no evil, and Iwazaru, who speaks no evil. They are joined by a new member of the band, a monkey deep in thought, who we must assume thinks no evil!

According to the homemade sign, drinking from the “fountains” (or rather, faucets) set below each monkey is supposed to bring you blessings, good luck, and new ideas. A passing local said that it is best to start sipping from the “see no evil” monkey, and work your way around clockwise.

Another of the shrine’s claims to fame appears to be having “the most watery water in the world.” While not having done a global taste test, the water is indeed delicious, as befits an area home to the award-winning Toko sake brewery. 

This little shrine was apparently created by the owner of the nearby Kojima Liquor store, which is located above a naturally occurring spring. He built it in 2001, and each year donates all proceeds to the city.

Know Before You Go

The shrine is a 10-minute walk from Yonezawa Station, going toward the more popular sightseeing area around the former castle.

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November 29, 2021

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