Top 11 Things to Do in Yamagata Prefecture | FAST JAPAN
Risshakuji Temple

Top 11 Things to Do in Yamagata Prefecture

Yamagata Prefecture is located on the westernmost part of the Tohoku region and facing the Sea of Japan. Lately many tourists come to enjoy the serene nature and delicious local cuisine!

#1. Risshakuji Temple

Risshakuji Temple

Risshakuji is a temple of Tendai sect which is one stream of Buddhism in Yamagata City. This temple has been believed that prayers can end bad relationship since old days. In 1950, around 300m playground slide was built as means of traffic and still remain, but unfortunately you cannot try it right now.

Risshakuji Temple

Risshakuji Temple is known for a visit by the famous poet Basho, who composed one of his most enduring haiku there. During Basho’s journey into northern Japan in the late 1600s he stopped at here and composed a short poem about the stillness and silence of the area. Nowadays, a statue of Basho and a rock inscription of his famous poem can be found in the lower area of the temple grounds.

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Risshakuji Temple

Address: 4456-1 Yamadera Yamagata City Yamagata

Access: 5 min walk north of Yamagata Station (JR Senzan Line)

Hours: 8:00am ~ 5:00pm

Fee: 300 yen (upper area)

Website: Risshakuji Temple


#2. Ginzan Onsen

Ginzan Onsen
Photo Credit: Syuzo

Ginzan Hot Spring became famous for local site of TV drama “Oshin”. Wooden guesthouses line up in a row, and after sunset, gas lamps start burning, which make nostalgic atmosphere in Taisho Period (around 100 years ago).

Ginzan Hot Spring

Many people visit this hot spring area because of this authentic view. This hot spring town makes you feel as though you have strayed off into a movie scene from a Japanese period adventure film.

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Ginzan Hot Spring

Address: Ginzan-onsen, Obanazawa, Yamagata

Access: 40 min by bus from Oishida Station


#3. Former Endo House

Former Endo House

Endo House is unique architecture in Tamugibata, Tsuruoka city. 4 layers structure makes this house unique, and this house was registered as tangible cultural properties in Yamagata pref in 1974. It is said that heavy snow and small land make it difficult to build more houses, then people started making living room and sericultural room together, that is why this style started in this area. The points you have to check is curved outline which is called Takahappou, and windows for sunlight and air ventilation.

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Endo House

Address: 135 Nanatsutaki Tamugimata Tsuruoka City Yamagata

Access: 1 hour by local bus from JR Tsuruoka Station

Hours: 9:00am ~ 5:00pm

Fee: 300 yen (adults), 200 yen (children)

Phone: 0235-54-6103

Website: Endo House


#4. Maruike-sama


The tree dropped into the pond looks like a dragon with out getting rid of, this pond is called Maruike-sama, and respected by local people. Diameter is 20m, depth is 3.5m, and all water there is coming from its mountain, which mean 100% pure, which makes its surface emerald color.


In addition, due to angle of sunlight and strength of sunlight, the color of Maruike-sama would change, so you will not get tired of watching this beautiful pond.

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Address: 57 Suguse Arakawa, Yuza-machi, Akumi, Yamagata

Access: 10 min by car from JR Yusa Station

Website: Maruike-sama


#5. Mt. Gassan, Midagahara

Mt. Gassan, Midagahara

You can see a lot of alpine plants, also known as sky paradise. Midagahara is bog, which is located at the 8th station of Gassan (its mountain, the highest of three mountain of Dewa, 1984m above sea level), and there are more than 130 kinds of flowers in June and August, and “Kusamomiji” in the end of September, which make this area fully yellow color.

Mt. Gassan, Midagahara

Marsh is totally nature which you don’t usually discover and some of you have never been there, however at Midagahara of Mt. Gassan, you can enjoy a 60 minutes nature walk on the raised wooden path through the marsh, which is awesome color especially in autumn season.

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Mt. Gassan, Midagahara

Address: Kawadai, Haguro-machi, Tsuruoka, Yamagata

Access: 2 hours by bus from JR Tsuruoka Station

Phone: 0235-62-4727

Website: Mt. Gassan, Midagahara


#6. Zao Soft Rime

Zao Soft Rime

Snow Monster!? No, masterpiece created by nature, “soft rime”. By tree hitting ice and snow, they are piled up, and it looks grown up, and called snow monster. This spectacle can be found only in this area in Japan, therefore very rare even in the world scale.

Zao Soft Rime

The best season to visit here is from December to February, when it is the coldest season, but a lot of events are conducted ever year. For example you can watch fireworks even in winter on ski slopes, after enjoying skiing and snowboarding in daytime. Additionally, some soft rime is lightened up for the certain period, which make romantic atmosphere around the area.

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Zao Soft Rime

Address:  229 -3 Zaōonsen Yamagata-shi, Yamagata Prefecture

Access: Take a bus from JR Yamagata St to Onsen town, and get the ropeway to Jizo-Sancho Station

Phone: 023-694-9518

Website: Zao Soft Rime


#7. Yamagata Hanagasa Festival

Yamagata Hanagasa Festival
Photo Credit:

One of the biggest festival in Tohoku region, and known as flower hat dance in summer night. This parade starts at 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM, and around 13 thousand dancers from 150 groups participated in these 3 days and and walk through the street. You can join this parade on the spot with them, so why not!?

Yamagata Hanagasa Festival

As a point, as dancers parade through the streets, the most crowded point is near the parade goal where a judges’ bench is set up. If you want to observe the parade at a less crowded place, the starting point is recommended. Calls such as “Yassho” or “Makasho” make you into matsuri, which is entirely Japanese style.

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Yamagata Hanagasa Festival

Address: Toka-machi, Hon-machi, Nanoka-machi, Yamagata, Yamagata

Access: 10 min walk from JR Yamagata Station

Dates: From August 5th to August 7th

Website: Yamagata Hanagasa Festival


#8. Tsuruoka Park

Tsuruoka Park

Tsuruoka park was built in 1875, where there used to be Tsurugaoka Castle Shonai feudal load Sakai lived in. In the park, you can find moat, stone wall, and old trees which are hundreds years old, so that you can imagine how it used to be there.

Tsuruoka Park

Here is also famous for cherry blossoms which are more than 730,  and chosen as “Top 100 cherry blossom sight in Japan”. National important cultural properties and historic landmarks are around the park, which create castle town atmosphere. The best season for cherry blossom in this area is from the mid of April to the end of April, when is later than other cherry blossom areas due to cooler weather.

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Tsuruoka Park

Address: 14 Baba-cho Tsuruoka Yamagata

Access: 10 min bus ride for Yunohama Onsen from Tsuruoka Station to Shiyakusho-mae bus stop and 2 min walk from there

Phone: 0235 (25) 2111

Website: Tsuruoka Park


#9. Matsugasaki Park

Matsugasaki Park

Here used to be the ruin of Yonezawa castle in the center of Yonezawa City, and now is open for public. In the beginning of April, cherry blossoms around moat are lighted up, which is so bright and reflected on the surface of river. You should not miss this park!

Matsugasaki Park

In addition, there are shrine and castle ruins around the park, so even not in cherry blossom season, you can enjoy walking around and discovering the history of this region with calm atmosphere in the park.

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Matsugasaki Park

Address: 1 Marunoichi, Yonezawa, Yamagata

Access: 10 min bus ride from Yonezawa Station and stop at Uesugi Shrine

Phone: 0238-22-5111

Website: Matsugasaki Park


#10. Okitama Cherry Blossom Corridor

Okitama Cherry Blossom Corridor

There are more than 20 spots of cherry blossoms, sometimes including 500-1200 years old trees, in Okitama Basin. Due to the temperature here, cherry blossoms bloom at the same timing of the best season of crops, therefore local people have loved cherry blossoms for long years. You can enjoy this beautiful cherry blossom corridor which lasts 43km!

Okitama Cherry Blossom Corridor

The recommended timing to visit this cherry blossom corridor is in the end of April, one of the reasons is that the end of April is the best season for cherry blossom itself, and additionally you can enjoy illumination in the park with beautiful cherry blossom after 6pm.

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Okitama Cherry Blossom Corridor

Address: Nannyou City, Nagai City, Shirataka-cho Yamagata

Phone:  0238-40-2002

Website: Okitama Cherry Blossom Corridor (Japanese)


#11. Chokai Blue Line

Chokai Blue Line

The street across Akita and Yamagata Prefecture. In autumn season, the color of Mt. Chokai changes to red and yellow because of Kaede, and from sightseeing tower at 1000m point, you can enjoy sunset into Sea of Japan and islands on the ocean.  It is convenient for climbing Mt. Chokai, but there are many people visiting drive, and view of the Sea of Japan and Shonai plains is pleased with because we can enjoy the fresh green or remaining snow, autumn colors. Setting sun of the Sea of Japan which Blue Line overlooks is romantic.

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Chokai Blue Line

Address: Onoso, Fukura, Yuza-machi, Akumi, Yamagata

Access: 15 minutes to the entrance of Chokai Blue Line from Yamagata highway Sakata minato IC via R7 toward Akita.

Website: Chokai Blue Line


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