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ITINERARIES Culture and Friendship in Tohoku Discover hidden gems and make life-long friends while on a homestay program in Yamagata

On the northern side of Honshu in Tohoku, Yamagata is home to abundant nature, national parks, and hot springs.

Explore the Yamagata countryside while on a homestay program, from a short overnight trip to a longer stay. Pick fresh vegetables and cook local dishes. Discover a lesser-known Japan outside of the urban centers and the traditional "golden route." Trek the mountains and have a glass of locally brewed beer.

Highlights

    Learning to make soba noodles from scratch
    Taking in Mt. Gassan from the hot springs
    Raising a glass of local beer with friends

How To Get There

From Tokyo: 3 hours 30 minutes

Take the JR Yamagata Shinkansen Tsubasa for 2 hours 45 minutes to Yamagata Station from Tokyo Station. Take Shonai Kotsu Express Bus at Yamagata Station to Nishikawa Bus Stop for 45 minutes.

Day 1
Nishikawa-machi Experience everyday life in the Japanese countryside

Tucked in a valley in central Yamagata and surrounded by mountains, Nishikawa-machi is an area rich with nature. Here, you can experience the life of Japan's farmers while exploring the beautiful countryside.

Contact Green Tourism for information on farmstays in Nishikawa-machi. Depending on the season, various programs are available while staying overnight at a farmhouse. Activities range from rice planting, rice harvesting, grape picking, apple picking, miso making and more.

If you visit in the summer, try your hand at picking safflowers. Used to make cooking oil and dyes, Yamagata is the primary producer of these flowers. Take a walk through these colorful buds and make sure to pick some up.

Meanwhile, in autumn, you can pick vegetables in the local mountains. Some veggies you can find include mushrooms and fatsia sprouts. Bring them home and enjoy a local dish with your hosts.

Regardless of the season, don't miss the opportunity to make soba from scratch. Yamagata Prefecture is the home of soba noodles, and in Nishikawa-machi you can learn to make the noodles.

Day 2

20 minutes

Take the Yamako Bus at Nishikawa-machi to Gassan Iriguchi Bus Stop.

Gassan Explore nature and finish with a glass of local beer

Nearby the village is Mt. Gassan , the highest peak of three mountains in the area known as Dewa Sanzan . This volcano is a famous religious spot for Shugen-do worshippers. While here, you can get outdoors and explore Yamagata's abundance of greenery.

From January to April, you can ski or snowboard down the mountain's slopes. While later in the year, you can discover the alpine flora along one of the many hiking paths.

After a day on the mountain, rest your weary muscles in the rejuvenating waters of Mizusawa Onsenkan. Found at the base of the mountain, you can bathe in natural Gassan hot spring water baths.

Unwind after a long day at nearby brewery Gassan Meisuikan. Try a glass of Gassan, the brewery's own beer made with spring water from Mt. Gassan .

More to Explore
Zao Onsen Meet the snow monsters of Yamagata

Continue your trip in Yamagata with a trip to Zao Onsen. Zao Onsen is one of Japan's most renowned mountain destinations, complete with hot springs, hiking paths and ski resorts, and the popular fox village. If visiting in winter, make sure to check out Zao's famous ice monsters.

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