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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan. Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan.
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare. An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare.
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife. Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife.
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan. Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan.
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara. The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara.
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower. Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower.
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving. Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving.
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky. The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky.
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

A perfect base for alpine adventures and powder snow

The Yamagata prefectural capital of Yamagata City is a cosmopolitan hub allowing visitors to delve into a fascinating corner of Japan boasting a rich culture, soothing hot springs, soaring mountains and ski fields.

Don't Miss

  • Ancient and atmospheric Yamadera Temple
  • Hot spring soaks and castle views at Kaminoyama Onsen
  • Mount Zao's alpine “snow monsters,” which roar to life in February

How to Get There

Yamagata City is easily accessible from Tokyo in about two and a half hours via the Yamagata Shinkansen Line.

Flights from Tokyo to Sendai Airport take one hour. You can then transfer to a direct bus from the airport, which takes around one and a half hours.

A city framed by mountains

Home to a quarter of a million people, Yamagata Prefecture's capital is a convenient base to begin your adventure in Northern Japan.

A short walk from the station, Kajo Park inside the walls of Yamagata Castle holds several events throughout the year. Every spring, revelers fill the park to picnic and view the hundreds of cherry trees in bloom.

Life's a bowl of cherries

Cherries, the fruit not the flower, are the area's most famous export and are grown in the valleys running through the center of the Yamagata region.

At the height of the season in mid-June, cherry lovers pour into Yamagata City for the annual Yamagata Cherry Festival . Featuring dozens of varieties, cherry filled baked goods, and even a cherry stone spitting contest, the festival is quintessential Yamagata in the summer.

Popular pastimes: dancing and eating

The summertime Yamagata Hanagasa Festival features traditional dancing, and the autumn Imoni Festival is an outdoor bash serving liberal amounts of Imoni, a popular regional beef stew. Either of these events will provide you with a deeper immersion in Japanese culture.

Temple with a view

Founded in the 9th century, Yamadera's sub-temples dot the slopes of Mt. Hoshu just 25 minutes from the city. A 1,000-step ascent through a mystic cedar forest brings you to the temple complex at the summit, with gorgeous views that are considered among the best in northern Japan.

Fall is a wonderful time to visit Yamadera Temple. The colorful foliage of the surrounding forest and the mild temperatures help make the climb to the top a joy.

A legendary hot spring town

Kaminoyama Onsen dates back to the 1400s, when legend has it that a monk spied an injured crane bathing its wounds in the healing waters, and a hot spring town was born. Located at the foot of Mt. Zao , its seven public baths are open for guests to drop in for a soak.

When you're finished, head up to Kaminoyama Castle , for views over the town and surrounding mountains. Originally built in 1535, the castle was once the headquarters of the Kaminoyama Domain. Today it houses a small museum paying homage to the warlords that once ruled the region.

Dedicated to fruit, hot springs, and games

Tendo is Yamagata's fruit mecca, home to vast orchards of apples, peaches, pears, and of course, cherries. It's also one of the prefecture's premier hot spring resorts, with many outdoor baths.

For fans of shogi, Japanese chess, the town produces the vast majority of Japan's game pieces. Their creation is a highly developed local craft dating back hundreds of years.

World class skiing and snow monsters

Mt. Zao is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in northern Japan, with great hiking in the summer, top-notch skiing at the Zao Onsen Ski Resort in the winter and sigh-inducing soaks at its eponymous onsen, which operates year-round.

Mt. Zao is also home to a phenomenon known as “snow monsters,” where trees on the upper slopes take on eerie shapes due to being covered with heavy snow and blasted by Siberian winds.

This area of the mountain is accessible via chairlift and gondola, and the trees are illuminated at night. You can also take in the views from the warmth of a café if the temperature seems daunting. The snow monsters are at their most ferocious in mid-February.

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