Yamagata Castle 山形城跡（霞城公園）
A tranquil stroll through Japanese history
The ruins of Yamagata Castle and its grounds are an expansive public park and a lasting reminder of the powerful Momogami feudal lords that once ruled the region. It is a popular place to stroll, picnic and see cherry blossoms in spring.
- Strolling around the impressive remains of what was once one of the largest castles in Japan
- A fascinating museum converted from a hospital
- Spring cherry blossoms carpeting the outer citadels and lining the moat
How to Get There
Located in Kajo Park, the castle is a 25-minute walk or a short ride on the Sekizawa-bound bus from Yamagata Station. Get off at Bijutsukan-Mae bus stop (the third stop). The bus takes around four minutes, followed by a 15-minute walk to the center of the park.
Built in 1592, it was the headquarters of the Yamagata feudal lords through the 17th and 18th centuries
In the early 17th century, the castle had ingenious zigzag walls for maximum defense
It is the fifth largest castle in Japan
Located in the center of Yamagata City , this 661-year-old castle was in use until 1872.
Although parts have been lost through damage or neglect, the moat surrounding Yamagata Castle is still imposing. The castle and its surrounding parklands make for an easy day's exploration.
In 1906, over 1,000 cherry blossom trees were planted around the castle to commemorate the Russo-Japanese war. The castle site was later renamed Kajo Park, and it remains one of the area's top destinations for cherry blossom viewing in mid-April.
The castle is free to visit and is a great place to relax, unwind and explore on foot.
The castle has been under renovation since 1986. The site has been partially reconstructed, and while there are no major reconstructed buildings to see, the foundations of the many buildings are scattered through the park. Key parts such as the eastern main gate have been rebuilt, and the moats and protective outer walls have been preserved. Archeological excavations are ongoing.
Pretty in pink
The castle is especially worth visiting in mid-April when visitors throng to the annual cherry blossom festival.
The banks of the castle moat are lined with sakura cherry trees. In spring, falling petals from thousands of blooming trees turn the moat waters pink. At night, the park offers spectacular illuminations.
Dining and entertainment
On the walk between Yamagata Station and Kajo Park, you'll find streets crowded with bars and restaurants. The area is one of the best spots in the city to spend an evening and enjoy local dishes, such as the famous Yonezawa beef.
Another attraction in Kajo Park is a former hospital turned medical museum. Built in 1877, the Saiseikan Museum displays historical medical instruments and supplies and was the first European-style building in the area. It's worth visiting just for the unusual architecture. Admission is free, with brochures provided in Japanese and English.