A farming experience and homestay program with a farming family

Yamagata Area

You can also enjoy your trip by staying with a farming family and experience activities such as farming and strolling through secondary forests. There have recently been increases in the numbers of foreign travelers who participate. Even if you cannot understand each other's words, heart-to-heart communication is all you need. There is also a growing number of local municipalities that are actively promoting opportunities for people to experience life in Japanese farming villages. Here are a few courses that let you become one with nature through activities such as farming and trekking in Yamagata Prefecture.

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Day 1 - Nishikawa-machi

[Traveling]
Tokyo -- <Yamagata Shinkansen 210 mins.> -- Yamagata -- <JR Aterazawa Line 60 mins.> -- Nishikawa-machi -- [Farming Experience][Farmhouse Room and Board] (Lodging)

*The times required with public transportation are approximate.

Nishikawa-machi

A nature-abundant area located at a basin in central Yamagata Prefecture, surrounded by mountains such as Mount Gassan and Mount Yudonosan. Nishikawa-machi, which is surrounded by rivers and green, has very few natural disasters and many crops are grown in its fertile land. After experiencing seasonal farming activities such as rice planting in the early summer, safflower picking in the summer, and rice and vegetable harvesting in the autumn, you can go directly to the lodging facilities that are run by the farmers.

Safflower Picking Experience

The safflower, which is processed into items such as food oil and dye, is the flower of Yamagata Prefecture and a local specialty. Safflower picking in around July is a farming experience that can only be enjoyed in Yamagata Prefecture. The town of Nishikawa is so committed to safflower cultivation that it is engaged in the flower’s organic cultivation. Try your hand at picking these brightly-colored flowers and feel as though you are in a beautiful flower garden.

Wild Vegetable Picking

The town of Nishikawa is surrounded by mountains and full of wild vegetables to be picked. Fatsia sprouts are famous spring vegetables representative of Yamagata Prefecture and are often eaten in households as tempura. Autumn is the season for gathering mushrooms, which let you have a taste of fresh and delicious blessings from the mountains when enjoyed as ingredients for miso soup, marinated, and so on.

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Soba Noodle Kneading

Yamagata Prefecture can also be called the home of soba noodles. Making soba noodles, which starts with making dough by kneading buckwheat flour, ends up differently depending on factors such as weather conditions, how much water is used, and the condition that the buckwheat flour is in. It is especially gratifying to eat soba noodles that you make yourself. Visitors in Nishikawa can also enjoy activities such as chocolate vine weaving and making Japanese paper.

Yudonosan-jinja Shrine

The nearby Mount Yudonosan has been believed to be a land of the gods since ancient times and was also a sacred spot in the Shugendo Buddhism. Yudonosan-jinja Shrine, which is located on the mountain, is still visited by many worshippers today. After a fulfilling farming experience, you can also enjoy some sightseeing here.

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Day 2 - Mount Gassan

[Traveling]
Nishikawa-machi -- Denshokan Hakubutsukan-mae -- <5 mins. by bus> -- Gassan-guchi [Trekking at Mount Gassan] -- <30 mins. by bus> -- Gassan Meisuikan-mae [Mizusawa Onsenkan] -- [Gassan Meisuikan] -- <40 mins. by bus> -- Sagae -- <JR Aterazawa Line (30 mins.)> -- Yamagata -- <Yamagata Shinkansen 210 mins.> -- Tokyo

Trekking at Mount Gassan

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Mount Gassan is one of the 100 most famous mountains in Japan. It is located right around the center of Yamagata Prefecture and commands a magnificent panoramic view that includes the Sea of Japan far away.

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There are many rare alpine plants here along with the mystic chocolate lily and mini cherry blossoms near the peak in the summer. It is easy for beginners to climb the mountain as there are paths made to protect the alpine plants, a lift, and so on.

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Mizusawa Onsenkan

A single-day hot spring facility located near the foot of Mount Gassan. Visitors can enjoy baths such as sodium hot spring baths and the famous Natural Gassan Water hot spring baths.

Gassan Meisuikan

Near the Gassan Mizusawa-onsen Hot Spring is a local brew beer factory, where you can try the local brew beer “Gassan”, which is made with the spring water of Mount Gassan.

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