Breathtaking cherry blossoms in Kajo Castle Park. The mountain temple of Risshaku-ji boasts a 1,100-year history.
Yamagata City, located in the center of Yamagata Prefecture, is a former castle town that has developed since the middle of the 15th century. In Kajo Castle Park, noted for its cherry blossoms, are moats and stone walls recalling scenes of the days when the castle was being built. Also found in the city are the British Renaissance-style Bunsho-kan Hall, and various other traditional western-style brick buildings, including the Yamagata Kyoiku-shiryo-kan (Yamagata Educational Museum), designated as an Important Cultural Property.
The area is host to many seasonal events, such as the Hanagasa-matsuri Festival (Flower-Adorned Hat Festival) in summer, considered to be one of the four greatest festivals held in the Tohoku region, and the Nihon-ichi-no-Imoni-kai Festival (Japan's No.1 Taro and Beef Stew Party Festival) in fall.
Risshaku-ji Temple in the Yamadera (mountain temple) area in the northeastern part of Yamagata City is one of the prominent temples in the Tohoku region, and was reportedly founded in the year 860. The whole of Mt. Hoju-san is the precinct of the temple, where ancient trees grow. Everywhere in the vast temple area, you can find rock caves and strangely shaped rocks, eroded by wind and water, as well as many other temple buildings, including the Konpon-chudo (central hall).
Tendo City, adjacent to Yamagata City to the north, is noted for producing 'shogi' (Japanese chess) pieces, accounting for 95 percent of their total production in Japan. An event known as "Ningen Shogi" (human chess), held during a cherry blossom festival, includes shogi chess matches in which people play the roles of the chess pieces, adding poetic charm to the spring season. During your visit you can watch a demonstration of how shogi pieces are made, and if booked in advance, you can also try your hand at making your own original shogi piece to keep as a souvenir.
From Tokyo :
[Rail] 2h 30min (quickest) to Yamagata Station by JR Yamagata Shinkansen Line.
From Osaka :
[Rail] 5h from Shin-Osaka via Tokyo (JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line) to Yamagata Station by JR Yamagata Shinkansen Line.