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YAMAGATA Guide

Yamagata

Situated on the Japan Sea coast of Tohoku region, Yamagata prefecture is full of splendid natural sceneries, including mountains such as Zao and the Mogami River, which runs through the whole prefecture. Zao Snow Monsters and Ginzen Onsen villages are some of the most-sees in the area.
Yamagata is also famous for its production of cherries, which account for 70% of the national production.


01. Risshakuji Temple (Yamadera)

02(1). Fruits Picking, Kaminoyama city

02(2). Fruits Picking, Tendo city

03. Zao Snow Monsters

04. Ginzan Onsen



Risshakuji Temple (Yamadera)

1,015 steps to one of Japan‘s most scared and beautiful temples in Yamagata.
Risshakuji Temple is a temple with a long history, said to have been built in 860 AD. It’s better known as “Yamadera”, which literally means mountain temple. While there is no shortcut other than the 1,015 staircases to the peak, the views along the journey is very promising. At the peak, you will be welcomed by the Godai-do Hall, which is an observatory platform that stands protruding from a cliff and it offers the best view spot in the temple.
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There are other photogenic spots in the prefecture where you can enjoy spectacular views. Mt.Haguro, home to the oldest Five-storied Pagoda in all of Tohoku, is famous as a spiritual spot. The “Kosugi no Ohsugi”, cedar tree in Kosugi Town became popular because of its resemblance to the shape of “Totoro” from the Ghibli film "My Neighbor Totoro”. You can also visit the Kamo Aquarium, of which its showpiece - Kurage (jellyfish) Dream Theater offers splendid views of thousands of moon jellyfish and serves as a photogenic spot!


 

 

 

 

Yamagata Fruits Picking

Thanks to the weather and soil condition, Yamagata Prefecture nurtures many delicious fruits throughout the four seasons. It is well known as the “fruit kingdom” of Japan where plenties of fruits are available and equally delicious here, but cherries are the representative fruit of the prefecture. The No.1 variety of cherries in terms of taste and popularity here is “Sato Nishiki” and cherry picking can be enjoyed around June and July every year.
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In Yamagata Cherry Land and Kaminoyama Tourism Fruits Garden and Ohsyo Fruits Farm, you can enjoy Yamagata’s seasonal fruits, like cherries and Japanese pears at their freshest or as a dessert. On the other hand, at Fruits Plaza in city shopping area, you can satisfy your sweet carvings with a variety of cakes, parfaits, and other colorful sweets made from Yamagata local fruits.


 

 

 

 

Zao Snow Monsters

Frost covered trees is a natural art form found only in winter. They are also called "snow monsters" because of their unique shape, which looks like a monster. Zao mountain range between the border of Yamagata and Miyagi Prefecture is particularly famous to observe these monsters and the best season to observe them is from December to March. You can enjoy the 360-degree panoramic view from the "Zao Ropeway" and the "Wild Monster" snowmobile that takes you around the frost covered trees.
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At Zao Onsen Ski Resort, there is a course where you can ski while looking at the frost covered trees. Alternately, you can enjoy the scenery through snowshoe trekking. If you want to enjoy playing in the snow, Dondendaira Snow Park is the place to go. Snowmobiling and banana boating on the snow are available for families with kids to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Ginzan Onsen

Ginzan Onsen is a hot spring town with three- and four- story wooden inns lining up along both banks of the Ginzan River. The scenery of the gas lamps, lit at dusk, gives off a nostalgic feeling. This small town is also known for being very photogenic and is said to be a model for a famous Ghibli film “Spirited Away”. The best time to visit is night time during winter season when the night lights offer a very magical touch and snow piles up (January to February).
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There are many other hot spring resorts in Tohoku. For example, Nyuto Onsenkyo (Akita Prefecture), surrounded by virgin beech forests, and Akiu Onsen (Miyagi Prefecture), a 30-minute bus ride from Sendai Station, are pretty popular. You can try bathing in the highly acidic water in one of Japan’s earliest national hot spring health resorts, Sukayu Onsen (Aomori Prefecture), particularly in its 1000-people bath, a large mixed-gender bath. Don't worry - there are also non-mixed baths too!

Let's have a look at other Tohoku region!

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