Enclosed by the Sea of Japan to the west and mountains to the east, Yamagata Prefecture is defined by its nature. Along the coast sit the port cities of Tsuruoka and Sakata, while deep inland is Zao Onsen, an area home to hot springs, sparsely visited ski slopes, and spectacular snow-covered trees referred to as "snow monsters." Mountain temple Yamadera is the subject of one of the most famous haiku poems, and Ginzan Onsen is a picturesque hot spring resort town on the site of a former silver mine.
Yamagata Prefecture is accessible via bullet train from Tokyo. Alternatively, you can fly to Sendai Airport in nearby Miyagi Prefecture and take local trains into the area.
The JR Yamagata Shinkansen serves Yamagata and connects much of the prefecture with Tokyo. It takes about two and a half hours to reach the northern terminus at Shinjo. To fly from Tokyo or further afield, the nearest major airport is Sendai Airport in neighboring Miyagi Prefecture. The JR Senzan Line connects Sendai City with Yamagata City in about 90 minutes.
Zao Takayu Dolls
Although kokeshi dolls are found all over Japan, their design varies significantly. The first dolls were made in Zao ...
Large swings in temperature between night and day in Yamagata give these watermelons a higher sugar content and great...
Imoni is a beef and vegetable stew common in Yamagata Prefecture. Imoni combines thin slices of beef, taro root, konn...
Akebi, the fruit of the chocolate vine, is only in season for two weeks at the beginning of fall. Known as the Prince...
Cherries were introduced to Yamagata in 1876, and the prefecture now produces 70 percent of all Japans cherries. Yama...
One of the three main brands of Japanese beef, the rich flavor and marbling of Yonezawa beef is the result of a long-...
Uetsu Tilia-Bark Textiles
Uetsu shinafu is one of Japan’s three oldest textiles. Plainly textured, durable and water-resistant, this fabric mad...
Tendo Japanese Chess Pieces
A player’s rank determines moves in shogi, the Japanese version of chess. With similar shapes, kanji lettering make t...
Cherry blossom blooms are particularly beautiful in Kajo Park in Yamagata City and Tsukioka Park, with Kaminoyama Castle in the background.
Summer is the best time to taste the area’s prized cherries or pick them yourself in Higashine. Join the locals in numerous events held across the prefecture, such as the massive Hanagasa Festival.
Festivals continue into fall with harvest-related events like the Imoni-kai potato festival. Leaves start to change color in late September, attracting hikers to eastern Yamagata's picturesque mountain gorges.
Ski, snowshoe, visit the snow monsters or retreat from the cold at a traditional hot spring resort. Yamagata remains lively in winter even when covered in snow.