YAMAGATA HOTELS

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Yamagata is located in Tohoku in the north east region of Honshu island, facing the Sea of Japan. Tokyo (2h45min by Shinkansen), very few foreign tourists visit Yamagata. However, this rural prefecture has so much to offer; beautiful mountains and wide rice fields scenery, famous Yamadera Temple, world class skiing at Zao and many Onsen (hot springs). Yamagata is a home of Yonezawa Beef (one of the best Wagyu), Japanese cherry, pears and various Sansai (highly nutritious mountain vegetables). From Mogami River, which is called a mother of nature, people catch various fish. Among them, Ayu (sweetfish) is so beautiful.

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YAMAGATA ATTRACTIONS

Risshakuji Temple

Risshakuji Temple is one of the most amazing temples in Japan. Generally known as Yamadera Temple, Risshakuji Temple was founded by Monk En-nin (Jikaku Daishi) in 860. The complex is built along a rocky mountain where visitors have to climb up 1015 narrow steps among trees. Some of the buildings were built on a very dangerous cliff, where many monks had a training in the past.

Kaizando Risshakuji Temple
Picture: Kaizando is the oldest building in Risshakuji Temple.

The famous Japanese poet Matsuo Basho visited Risshakuji Temple in 1689 and made a famous poem 'Stillness/the cicada's cry/drills into the rocks', which is a part of a diary of his extensive travel through Tohoku area called 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'. Basho's statue is near the entrance of the temple.

The following are some of the buildings in Risshakuji Temple.
Kaizando: the oldest building in the complex.
Shozoin & Chushoin: buildings were used for training for monks.
Okunoin: Located on the highest level of the complex, Okunoin has Buddha statues which Jigaku Daishi took with him during his practice in China.
Daibutsuden: Located next to Okunoin, Daibutsuden holds 5 meter high golden Buddha statue.

Daibutsuden Risshakuji Temple
Picture: Daibutsuden holds 5 meter high golden Buddha statue.

Risshakuji Temple Pictures - Additional pictures of Risshakuji Temple can be seen in our Japan Picture Gallery.

Open: 8am - 5pm, 7 days a week
Admission: 300 yen

Zao Onsen

First discovered in 110, Zao Onsen is one of the best hot springs locations in Japan. It is a hidden treasure of Japan as it is located in an isolated remote area (40 minutes drive from JR Yamagata Station - access via Yamako Bus). In this small town between the mountains, there are over 100 accommodations (mainly small Inns) and shops, which are all in a walking distance.

There are three indoor public spas, one outdoor public spa called Dai Roten Buro (Great Outdoor Spa) and one foot spa (free) in the town. In winter, Zao Onsen turns into a great ski resort. It has the largest ski slope in Tohoku region with thick powder snow. You can also see amazing soft rime called 'Ice Monster' on a slope here in Zao.

Public Spas (Kamiyu, Shimoyu & Kawarayu)
Open: 6:30am - 10pm
Admission: 200 yen

Kamiyu Public Spa - Zao Onsen
Picture: Kamiyu Public Spa - Zao Onsen

Dai Roten Buro (Great Outdoor Spa)
Open: 6am - 7pm (close from late November to late April)
Admission: 450 yen

Sukawa Onsen Shrine
Also located in Zao is the Sukawa Onsen Shrine which was founded in 873 and enshrines the God of Onsen.


YAMAGATA ITINERARY

This suggested itinerary for Yamagata does not include the time you might want to spend at each location as this will vary greatly depending on your interest and how busy the attractions are.

Station/Stop

Transport

Duration

Places to visit

JR Tokyo

JR Shinkansen (Tsubasa/Yamabiko)

2h45min

 

JR Yamagata

JR Senzan Line

17min

 

JR Yamadera

Walk

7min

Risshakuji Temple (Yamadera)

JR Yamadera

JR Senzan Line

17min

 

JR Yamagata

Yamako Bus

40min

 

Zao Onsen

Walk

5min

Zao Onsen

Public Spas (Kamiyu, Shimoyu & Kawarayu)

Dai Roten Buro (Great Outdoor Spa)

Sukawa Onsen Shrine

Zao Onsen

Yamako Bus

40min

 

JR Yamagata

JR Shinkansen (Tsubasa/Yamabiko)

2h45min

 

JR Tokyo

 

 

 

Ayu Restaurant Yamagata
Picture: Ayu Restaurant Yamagata


Japan

TOHOKU

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