Top 10 Things to do in Yamagata, Japan

March 11, 2018 Jasper Kershner

Yamagata is the capital city of Yamagata Prefecture located in the Tōhoku region of northern Japan. As of October 2015, the city had an estimated population of 252,632, and a population density of 663 persons per km².
Restaurants in Yamagata

1. Risshaku-ji Temple

4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata 999-3301, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-695-2843
Excellent
52%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 674 reviews

Risshaku-ji Temple

Reviewed By mabei0123 - Tsukuba, Japan

Yamadera, literally "mountain temple", is a general term for the temples and shrines scattered along the Yamadera mountainside. Hojusan Rissakuji is the official name of Yamadera, which may be translated as Rissakuji Temple on Mt. Hoju. The Temple was founded in 860 AD by Kikaku Daishi in response to an imperial edict issued by Emperor Seiwa during the Heian period. The haiku poet and traveller Matsuo Basho journeyed to Yamadera to experience its supreme quietness, and the 1,015 stone steps Basho climbed in the Edo period continue to lead visitors up to Okuno-in, the famous innermost temple. Yamadera has become a popular tourist destination, and many tourist visit Yamadera all year round and take 1,015 steps way up at the mountain. The climbing walk would be a test to your strength and age. The view from top is indeed spectacular. The temples themselves were just fine. It's good to eat the homemade Soba noodles here after your climbing walk before you take a train to return to Yamagata (@20 min) or to Sendai (@60 min).

2. Frost Covered Trees of Zao

Near Jizo Mountain, Yamagata 990-2301, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-694-9168
Excellent
57%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 188 reviews

Frost Covered Trees of Zao

Reviewed By JiveSun - Taipei, Taiwan

To view Zao juhyo (frost covered trees) takes good luck. The last time I went up there the weather did not cooperate. The spectacular sights I had hoped to see were all lost in low visibility conditions. But as the place, with these natural wonders, is worth many more visits in the future, I left with no regrets and decided to come again soon.
When you arrive at Yamagata Station (East Exit), go to Bus Information Center to purchase the "Juhyo Admiration Bus Setticket" (¥3100, including a round-trip bus ticket and the Zao Ropeway Exchange Ticket). Go to Bus Stop #1 and get on the bus bound for Zao Onsen. When you arrive at the terminus, follow the signs and go to Zao Ropeway (not Zao Chuo Ropeway!).
Redeem the Zao Ropeway Exchange Ticket at the front desk and proceed to the entrance. Change cars at Juhyokogen Station and arrive at Jizosancho Station.
I suggest that you check the weather before you go up, in case you do not see any juhyo. In addition to juhyo, the snow-clad Zao Jizoson that was established there in 1775 is a sight of peace and quiet. If you need a place to stay warm, there is a restaurant right next to the Jizosancho Station.
I actually stayed until past 17:00, thinking that it would clear up during the evening Light-Up session (open season from December of 2015 to February of 2016, for 50 days on selected dates). But it was windy and snowy, and many areas were off-limits. When I left, the temperature had already dropped to -11 degrees Celsius. I decided to return soon in the near future for the grandeur of juhyo that I missed admiring.

3. Bunshokan

3-4-51 Hatagomachi, Yamagata 990-0047, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-635-5500
Excellent
51%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 136 reviews

Bunshokan

Reviewed By 2sophia8

It was Yamagata prefectural office before. It's one of important historical buildings now.
You can observe through the building for free of charge.
It wasn't crowded so I took my time to look antique interiors.
Also I enjoyed taking a walk around here for a green garden.

4. Yamagata Zao Onsen Ski Resort

Zaonsen, Yamagata 990-2301, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-694-9328
Excellent
54%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 265 reviews

Yamagata Zao Onsen Ski Resort

Reviewed By Travel_addict13_10 - Australia

Zao Onsen is well worth a ski/ snowboard trip. The advantages include the usual Japanese light powder and consistently deep snow everywhere. The village is traditional. The onsens are renowned for being possibly the best in Japan and the sulphur steam rises up all around the village. The village is still very Japanese and Western tourists are few. Our group have been to many ski fields around the world and all said this is the most picturesque ski field. The snow monsters at the top are amazing. The lift passes are cheap. You can ski for A$50 a day or less. Lift passes can be bought daily or groups of days but you can also buy a 10 hour non consecutive pass. On the down side, the runs are not particularly steep and tend to be short. The lifts are many but not linked easily so there is often a bit of pushing from one to another. The options for tree skiing are limited. We stayed at Hotel Lucent Takamiya which was a traditional Japanese experience with a great onsen, traditional rooms but with ensuites and a small amount of English spoken at reception. Straight across the road is the Zao Chuo Ropeway which we found to be the best access to the mountain. There are some very good and reasonably priced restaurants worth trying. Touen (home cooking, popular), Oto chaya ( delicious Japanese Western mix), Robata (Ghenkis Khan style self BBQ), Pizza and Craft Beer Quantum. On the mountain,for a bit of luxury, just down from the exit of the Zao Chuo Ropeway, is Santoro, a chalet style building for coffee or lunch. Zao Onsen was a great family holiday. The experienced skiers/ snowboarders in the group enjoyed it despite the lack of challenging runs and there was plenty for the intermediate skiers.

5. Zao Ropeway

Zao Onsen, Yamagata 990-2301, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-694-9518
Excellent
33%
Good
47%
Satisfactory
18%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 148 reviews

Zao Ropeway

Reviewed By Nelumbo-Nucifera - Singapore, Singapore

A group of us visited Mt Zao Ropeway. The view was spectacular and worth going all the way up to the top.

Now that I have done that, I will never go again, definitely not in winter.

Reason: The carriage was jam-packed with tourists and skiers. As I was the last one in, my body was pressed against the doors. During the eight minutes going up, I had this horrible thought of what would happen if the doors malfunctioned and opened.

A Japanese friend later told me that I should have gone in late October when the Autumn foliage is even more dramatic and definitely more colourful.

6. Kajo Park

Kajomachi, Yamagata 990-0826, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-641-1212
Excellent
19%
Good
52%
Satisfactory
27%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 129 reviews

Kajo Park

Reviewed By susanmccallum - Honolulu

The castle ruins aren't much to see, but the park is a nice place to take a walk amid greenery and away from city streets. But don't miss the Saiseikan Museum. It was originally a hospital built in 1877 and it now houses medical supplies from various eras. But it's the building that's worth the visit as it was the first Western-style building in this part of Japan. I've never seen one in this style of architecture before. And entrance is free. There are pamphlets in both Japanese and English and free postcards.

7. Yamagata Kyodokan

1-1 Kajomachi, Yamagata 990-0826, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-644-0253
Excellent
32%
Good
46%
Satisfactory
22%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 50 reviews

Yamagata Kyodokan

Reviewed By てんしちゃん

素敵な建物が見えたので入ってみるとこちらでした。もともとは病院だったとのことで、館内を無料を見学する事ができます。大きな施設ではありませんが、施設の方がとても親切で、近隣の観光や歴史についてもおしえてくれました。

8. Yamagata Museum of Art

1-63 Otemachi, Yamagata 990-0046, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-622-3090
Excellent
36%
Good
61%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 33 reviews

Yamagata Museum of Art

Reviewed By kathy154914 - Nanaimo, Canada

Wonderful Japanese print making exhibit with English explanations of the theme of the print as well as the history of the artist; lovely small museum, not overwhelming

9. Beni no Kura

2-1-8 Tokamachi, Yamagata 990-0031, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-679-5101
Excellent
20%
Good
55%
Satisfactory
23%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 39 reviews

Beni no Kura

Reviewed By MASAHIRO384 - Sapporo, Japan

山形駅から徒歩10分以内の所にある、かつて紅花商人であった長谷川家の蔵屋敷を使用した、山形まるごと館の紅の蔵内のまちなか情報館では2月17日から3月30日まで時代雛展を開催しております。そして入場無料と助かりますね。笑 価値とか全然わかりませんが、 紅花商人 長谷川家に代々受け継がれてきた、華やかで優美な雛人形が展示されてますよ!

10. Kajo Central

1-1-1 Jonanmachi, Yamagata 990-0827, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-646-7272
Excellent
18%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
36%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

3.5 based on 55 reviews

Kajo Central

Reviewed By DYA717 - Honolulu

Kajo Central is the tallest building in Yamagata city. It is connected by a walkway from the train station. It has several floors of shopping which seem underutilized at the moment. The view from the 24th floor is outstanding. The trick is to find that special set of elevators which take you up there. You can catch those elevators only on the 1st and 2nd floors.

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