#1. 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 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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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 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).
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
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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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)
Website: Endo House
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
#5. 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.
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
Website: Mt. Gassan, Midagahara
#6. 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.
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
Website: Zao Soft Rime
#7. Yamagata Hanagasa Festival
Photo Credit: :tabisuke-hirosaki.jp
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!?
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 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.
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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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
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!
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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Address: 1 Marunoichi, Yonezawa, Yamagata
Access: 10 min bus ride from Yonezawa Station and stop at Uesugi Shrine
Website: Matsugasaki Park
#10. 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!
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
Website: Okitama Cherry Blossom Corridor (Japanese)
#11. 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