Yamagata in southern Tohoku is a prefecture famous for its beautiful scenery. It is famous for its Yonezawa Wagyu beef, tasty cherries, and the great ski area plus hot spring resorts on Mt. Zao. If you have the chance to visit Yamagata Prefecture, be sure not to miss these 5 activities!
You can access Zao Sancho Station by taking the Zao ropeway, and then take a tough walk of a few hundred meters to reach Mt. Zao. The ropeway is not too expensive to use and it has a mid-way stop so you can take a walk around to enjoy a great view of the area before going to the station on top of the mountain. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience for old and young!
After you get to the final destination of the Zao ropeway you will reach Zao Mountain. During the winter season, a lot of skiing and fun snow games will be waiting for you! Above 1400 meters the mountain will be covered with iced trees and snow, so you can enjoy the endless beautiful white scenery all along the skiing route.
If you don’t want to ski you can also just take the cable car that will get you to the top of the mountain for sightseeing if the weather permits. The resort on Mt. Zao is quite amazing, they even organize night excursions which really is a wonderful experience I must say!
You can click here for more information on the whole Mt. Zao area.
One of the best things about skiing in Japan is dipping yourself in a hot onsen afterward. Fortunately, Zao Onsen is located nearby. It is a small town 20 minutes away from the mountain where there are hot springs everywhere. Although they also rent towels at the counter, it’s best to bring your own if you want to save some yen. Moreover, if it’s your first time to travel to Japan it is advisable to learn more about the rules that people observe when they use onsen on beforehand.
This is the most challenging activity you can do in the area, and I’m sure you will feel very proud if you can fulfill it: in order to reach the Yama-dera temple you will first have to climb 1000 (or more) stone steps. To make the long climb a bit easier you can enjoy various stone craving dotting the landscape along the way. So what’s your reward? An amazing temple set in a breath-taking location, it’s totally worth the effort to see the view from the top, not to mention the calming atmosphere.
The Yamagata Museum of Art is the kind of museum that is small but very focused. It often holds exhibitions about Japanese printing with English explanations provided, so you will have the chance to understand the theme of the print as well as the history of the artist that made them. Its peaceful atmosphere will surely please you no matter what.
There is always something to do and to see at Mt. Zao in Yamagata, so if you have the chance to discover this beautiful part of Japan, don’t miss out!