Yamagata Travel Guide


Yamagata, or Mountain Terrain, is the capital of the prefecture of the same name (and the sister city of Boulder, Colorado). It's a community of around a quarter-million people who enjoy one of the most visually stunning locations in Japan. Everywhere you look there are arrayed lovely mountains, a play of light and shadow shifting across their sculpted flanks and lofty summits. Connoisseurs of soba and mountain vegetables (sansai) will be delighted, as will fans of sweet, perfectly marbled beef. Yamagata Prefecture is the only prefecture to be 100% thermal—having at least one onsen, or hot spring, in each of its 35 municipalities. Mt. Zao is popular among visitors for its "ice monsters," pillars of frozen snow shaped into mysterious forms by the blizzards, as well as its hot springs.

During the Hanagasa Festival (August 5–7), some 10,000 dancers from the region dance through the streets in traditional costume and hanagasa, hats so named for the safflowers (thistlelike orange-red flowers, locally called benibana) decorating them. It's based on an old ritual to promote fertility and ensure a rich harvest. Floats are interspersed among the dancers, and stalls provide food and refreshments.

Read More


Book A Trip



  • CARS

Trip Finder
Travel Phrases

Learn Japanese Phrases before or while you're on the go!

Download Now

Plan Your Next Trip

Subscribe to Newsletter
Sign up for Travel Tips & News
I want emails from Fodor's Travel with travel information and promotions. I can unsubscribe any time using the unsubscribe link at the end of all emails.

Thank you for your interest!

Look out for our newsletters with travel tips and special offers.