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YAMAGATA Prefecture

Area:9,323 km²
Population: 1,141 million
Region: Tohoku
Capital: Yamagata

photo by 克年 三沢

Yamagata prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tohoku region of Japan’s main island. Its capital city is Yamagata.
Home to amazing sceneries, old temples, world class skiing, wonderful local food, summer festivals and some of the best hot springs in Japan, Yamagata offers a wealth of experiences for those with will to seek them out.

WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE
Some of Yamagata’s main attractions are:
Yamadera - different buildings of the temple are scattered in the mountain. It is an easy hike to the top, approximately 30 minutes. The view from the mountain top is breathtaking. Different seasons also bring interesting changes to the scenery.
Okama Crater Lake - this crater lake is a popular sight for visitors because the water changes its color depending on the weather condition.
Snow monsters - in winter on Mt. Zao, visitors can find trees covered by snow forming strange shapes and looking like "snow monsters."
Dewa Sanzan Mountains is comprised of the three holy mountains, Mt. Haguro, Mt. Yudono and Mt. Gassan, Dewa Sanzan and is a place where pilgrims have their spiritual trainings. Here, you can enjoy the Buddhist cuisine, Shojin Ryori.
At the base of Mt. Haguro, there is the Five-story Pagoda that was built in the year of 939 without any nails.
Mt. Chokai - a famous mountain located at the border of Yamagata Prefecture and Akita Prefecture.
Sunset at the Sea of Japan - Facing the west side, you can catch beautiful sunsets on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Yunohama Onsen is a sight especially known for its view of the sunset.

The Prefecture holds many festivals throughout the year.
Hanagasa (Flower Hat) Festival is held on August 5-7 every year, a total of 800,000 people come to see this parade from all over Japan. The participants dance for 1.2 km wearing flower hats and traditional wears. About 100 groups participate in the parade and it is one of the biggest summer festivals in Tohoku region of Japan.
Yonezawa Uesugi Samurai Festival is a spring festival held on April 29 - May 3 every year in Yonezawa city of Yamagata prefecture. The samurai parade held on the last day of the festival is reenactment of the famous historical battles of Kawanakajima. The battles were fought between the two major generals: Kenshin Uesugi and Singen Takeda.

Visitors can enjoy various activities such as the Mogami River Boat Ride where visitors can enjoy a guided boat tour, a one-way descent that takes about one hourn. From April to November, there are 5 trips a day, and from December to March, there are 3 trips a day.
Cherry-picking is also a major attraction due to the numerous cherry farms found around the prefecture. The best time for cherry-picking is in early summer, from June to July.
GETTING THERE
By airplane
There are airports in Yamagata (connecting to Osaka-Itami, Nagoya, Tokyo-Haneda, and Sapporo-Chitose) and Shonai (connecting to Tokyo-Haneda), however most visitors coming from overseas will prefer flying to Tokyo and take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from there.
By train
Yamagata prefecture is served by the Yamagata Shinkansen, which zips up every hour from Tokyo through Yonezawa and Yamagata to Shinjo.
By bus
Night buses connect Yamagata city and Tokyo with trips of approximately 6 hours one-way.
The southern parts of Yamagata prefecture can easily be accessed by express bus from Sendai.
CLIMATE/ TEMPERATURE
The climate of Yamagata Prefecture is characterized by long hot humid summers and long snowy winters. Both spring and autumn are short, spring can be warm and autumns a little cold, but both quite dry and sunny.
The hottest months of the year are July and August with temperatures frequently rising above 30 °C .
Winters are quite cold and have heavy snowfall especially at higher elevations.
WHAT TO WEAR
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. Winter boots are advisable if you’re going to the mountains.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket should keep you warm.
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