Nature Spots in Yamagata Area

  • Mt. Haguro
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Tsuruokashi Haguromachitouge
    Together with Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono, this 414 meter tall mountain is considered one of Dewa Sanzan, the three sacred mountains of Dewa. This mystical mountain has long been famous as a center of Shugendo, a syncretic religion which combines Shinto and Buddhism. The shrine at the top of the mountain, dedicated to the Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara (the Buddha who saves people living in our current world) was founded by Prince Hachiko. Because the shrine (and the mountain itself) is dedicated to granting the currently earthly prayers of living people, the mountain is also known as the “Mountain signifying the current world.”
  • Forest of Illusions
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    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Mogami-gun Tozawamura Furukuchi Tsuchiyu
    This forest is located in the Furukuchi Tsuchiyu, Tozawa Village, Mogami County. It is densely populated by Tsuchiyu Japanese cedars, which are abundant along the Mogami River. The complex forks and curves of the trunks of these enormous trees, which are said to be over 1,000 years old, create a wondrous view worthy of the forest’s name.

    不思議な形の杉が続きます。なんでこんな形になったのか眺め入ってしまいます。遊歩道は整備されてますが、入り口から狭いダートの道を延々と上るし、対向車に出会うと離合が困難です。でも不思議な空間なので見る価値はあると思います。

  • Mt. Gassan
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Tsuruokashi Haguromachikawadai
    This volcano in the center of Yamagata prefecture is designated a special Area of Bandai-Asahi National Park. It’s a famous mountain in many ways, named to any number of lists of Japan’s best mountains and scenery. In addition, it’s the source of one of Japan’s famous spring waters, Gassansanroku Spring. The peak is home to Gassan-jinja Shrine, and is a frequent pilgrimage stop for climbers and tourists. There is a summer skiing course open from April to July, but in winter it’s closed as there is actually too much snow for safe skiing.
  • Sounkyo
    Travel / Tourism
    Ozawa-shi, Yamagata Prefecture
    This ravine is at Mt. Goshozan in Obanazawa City. Known for the mountain's advanced climbing trail that straddles the border with Miyagi Prefecture, depending on the season, the ravine may be fresh green or brilliantly colored with autumn leaves. Spots like Gozenmae, Otaki Falls, and river crossings help get you in touch with Mother Nature.
  • Mt. Chokai
    Travel / Tourism
    Akita ken fukoichi
    This is a 2,236 meter tall active volcano in Chokai Quasi-International Park extending over Nikaho City, Akita Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture. The 5th station hosts the Hokodate Observatory, with a view of the Oga Peninsula and Tobishima Island in the Sea of Japan. The 7th stage has bunches of flowers like narcissus anemone and nikkokisuge that bloom around July. It's popular with climbers, being selected one of Japan's 100 Top Mountains, Japan's100 Best Sceneries, and National Historic Sites.
  • Tengendai Highland
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Yonezawashi Sumomoyama
    This highland area is located in Sumomoyama, Yonezawa City. It has the trailhead for shortest route up Mt. Nishi-Agatsuma and can be reached by the Tengendai Ropeway from Yumoto Station in Seki, Yonezawa City. Its trekking course has great views of Mt. Zao and Mt. Chokai and lots of alpine plants. There's also a ski field with a roughly six-month long season. It features high quality powder, and its longest run is 6,000 meters.
  • Mt. Chokai
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Prefecture
    A 2,236 meter tall mountain located on the border between Yamagata Prefecture and Akita Prefecture which has been worshipped by the people living around it as a protective god since ancient times. Due to the extreme changes in weather the mountain experiences throughout the year, the scenery also undergoes drastic, seasonal changes, attracting great numbers of visitors seeking to view the natural beauty. The Chokai Blue Line sightseeing road extends to the fifth station on the mountain, making it possible to drive up to this point, and here you'll find a restaurant, and souvenir store as well as the Chokai Hokodate Visitor Center. The Hokodate Observatory offers a sweeping view of the Sea of Japan as well as Naso Ravine directly below.
  • Mt. Yudono
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Tsuruokashi Tamugimata
    A 1,500 meter tall sacred mountain located in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture which is famously known as a center for the Shugendo syncretic faith and which is also viewed as the inner sanctuary of the Dewa Sanzan, the three sacred mountains of Dewa. Yudonosan-jinja Shrine, a Shinto shrine located at the foot of the mountain, draws the eye with its huge red torii gate; the shrine's object of worship is a large reddish-brown boulder with a mystical aura from which warm water wells. The mountain is a magical place and since ancient times it has been believed that one must neither speak of one's experiences on the mountain nor ask others about theirs. The Yudonosan Ski Area is also located on the mountain; boasting a ski slope on which you can slide unimpeded for 2,000 meters, this popular winter resort is frequented by families and others looking to enjoy skiing and snowboarding.
  • Zao Bodaira National Campground
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Kaminoyamashi Zaou Takahara Bohei
    This expansive plateau is located along the Echo Line in Zaosan, Nagano, Kaminoyama City at an altitude ranging from 1,000 to 1,200 meters. It features a pension village, a camp ground, Azalea Park, and other facilities. Visitors can experience the seasonal nature offered by the highlands, such as the alpine plants and fresh greenery. There is also a ski area and a cross-country skiing course that are used for ski competitions, training camps, and other events.
  • Mogami Gorge
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Mogamiguntozawamura Furukuchi
    The Mogami River Prefectural Nature Park is found in the 15 kilometer valley along the middle of the Mogami River, famous for being the subject of a Basho poem. You can float downstream year-round on the Mogami River Basho Line to take in the beautiful natural surroundings on a roughly 12 kilometer trip, taking one hour. There are also reservation-only lunchboxes available on the ship. There are also activities like visiting the Furusato Mura, reachable only by boat, and Ikada Kudari descents.
  • Dokkonuma Swamp
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Yamagatashi Zaouonsen Docco swamp
    This marsh in the Zao Central Highland is 350 meters around, and is famous for the mysterious emerald green color of the water surface. You can take the Zao Central Ropeway to the marsh, or use the poplar, well-maintained hiking course. It's a popular place with mountain climbers, who stop by to enjoy the lush natural beech forest surroundings.
  • Lake Tokura
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Obanazawashi Nitoubukuro
    This approximately 230 hectare reservoir was made to store water for paddy fields. Now it also serves as a home for aquatic life like carp and wakasagi fish, and in winter it's a stopping point for migrating swans. The three kilometers around the area is planted with about 200 Yoshino cherry trees and when they bloom every year in May they hold the Tokurako Matsuri festival, and they are lit up at night. The area also has campgrounds, golf courses, and hot spring facilities.
  • Kosugi no Osugi (Totoro Tree)
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Mogamigunsakegawamura Magarikawa
    This 1,000-year-old cedar tree is a natural treasure of Sakegawa Village, and is also known as the Totoro Tree because of its similarity to the Studio Ghibli Movie “My Neighbor Totoro”. This massive tree is roughly 6.3 meters around the trunk, 17 meters around the branches and 20 meters tall and has been a sacred tree since ancient times, with the mountain god worshiped at the base of the tree. The shape of the two branches from the top of the tree have led to it also being known as “the married couple cedar” and the “marriage cedar”.
  • Zao Bodaira Highland
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Kaminoyamashi Zaou Bokpyeong Highlands
    This highland area on the western flank of Mt. Zao is located about 1,000 meters above sea level. With facilities like a pension village, a campground, and an azalea park, visitors enjoy the highland's natural environment year-round. It has a ski field and cross-country skiing courses. In 2014 it was a venue for the Yamagata Juhyo (Ice Monsters) National Athletic Meet. Located 30 minutes from Kamiyama City via the Zao Echo Line, many travelers visit for trekking.
  • Ushiwatari River, Maruike-sama Pond
    Travel / Tourism
    Yusa Town, Yamagata Prefecture
    The Ushiwatari River in Fukura, Yuza Town is known for the abundance and clarity of the spring water that feeds it, welling up from beneath Mt. Chokai. That spring water makes up 100% of the adjacent emerald green and highly transparent Maruike-sama Pond. People say that the fallen trees preserved at the bottom of the pond are a sign of the water's purity.
  • Tamasudare Falls
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Sakatashi Masuda Omori
    This waterfall is in Masuda, Sakata City. Said to have been discovered and named by Kobo Daishi, this plunge waterfall bordered by large cedar trees is five meters wide and 63 meters high. In days gone by it was used as a training ground by Shugendo practitioners, and still today there's a sub-sanctuary of Mitake-jinja Shrine before the falls. It's illuminated in the evening from the end of April to the beginning of May and the middle of August, letting visitors experience a different kind of beauty from the daytime. Well known for a variety of seasonal scenery, during the harsh cold of January and February it freezes, turning into a cascade of ice.
  • Sagae Dam
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Nishimurayamagunnishikawamachi Sunagoseki 158
    This multipurpose core rockfill dam is on the Sagae River. Completed in 1990, it supplies water for irrigation, home use, and power generation, and aids riparian environmental conservation including flood control of the Mogami River system. It's surrounded by a rich natural environment including the Asahi Mountain Range and Mt. Gassan and has facilities like Yumiharidaira Park.
  • Gassan Lake
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Nishimurayamagunnishikawamachi Sunagoseki 158-130
    This is a reservoir formed by the Sagae Dam in Sunagoseki, Nishikawa Town. The Gassan Lake Mizu no Bunkakan on its shore features shops, sports facilities, and more, demonstrating urban development putting the natural environment to use. The Lake Gassan Daifunsui Fountain with a jet of 112 meters is the highest in Japan. A lot of tourists visit throughout the year to check out the patterns of fountain spray that change with the seasons.
  • Gassan Midagahara Marsh
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata Pref. Tsuruokashi Haguromachikawadai
    This marsh is at the eighth station on Mt. Gassan, the highest peak in the Dewasanzan Mountain Range. At an altitude of 1,400 meters, a boardwalk lets you walk around the gently rolling area in 60 minutes. You can drive to the eighth station, making it easy to observe over 130 kinds of alpine plants including Asian skunk cabbage and flowers like nikkokisuge.
  • Mogami River
    Travel / Tourism
    Yamagata prefecture Mogami-gun
    This first-class river flows through Yamagata Prefecture. With its source at Mt. Nishi-Agatsuma on the border with Fukushima Prefecture, it courses through the nearby basin and across the Shonai Basin before emptying into the Sea of Japan. Approximately 80% of the prefecture's population inhabits the Mogami River basin (including tributaries such as the Sagae River), so it has played a key role in water transport since ancient times. The culturally important waterway has appeared many times in song. Matsuo Basho's haiku about it reads The swift Mogami River gathers summer rain.

Yamagata Areas

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Although often overlooked, Yamagata prefecture by no means lacks appeal: the Yamadera temple trail through the mountains, deliciously tender Yonezawa wagyu, and over 100 steaming hot springs, most notably Zao Onsen, await visitors. When winter comes, the snowcapped peaks become dotted with skiers by day and onsen-goers by night, while summer brings the celebration of juicy Yamagata cherries.

Yamagata Photo Album

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