Discovering Japan: Yamagata

Yamagata.

A prefecture that when I told my co-workers that I would be visiting during silver week, got the reply of “Hah, what is there to do there?”

Yamagata by Ichiyen

As I slowly conquer each prefecture from North to South, Yamagata was not going to be left out. When I did some research on the prefecture, there was actually a lot to do, just a lot, limited by car. I really wanted to do the 羽黒山 (Three mountains of Dewa) but it was out of my budget and time frame. Poor salary man.

I was on a tight budget with this trip henceforth my main focus was boiled down to one sole attraction I had to try to finish.

Food

Soba

As surprised as this may sound to me, soba is actually a Yamagata speciality.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

Imoni

Next up is taro stewed beef known as Imoni. The stew usually consists of taro, konjac, spring onions and beef. You’ll see it everywhere, trust me.

Cherry/Pear flavoured desserts

Depending on the season you visit Yamagata, cherry and pear flavoured delicacies are in during summer to autumn.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

Tama-konnyaku

First impression, Dango! But it has such a chewy interesting taste along with the mustard. Worth the ¥100 to try it out.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

Activities

First up, is the one thing I had to do during this trip:

Yamadera (Hojuzan Risshaku Temple)

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

This area was said to bring peace and a sense of leaving the worldly needs behind into serenity. The view is absolutely stunning. Mainly managed by the older generation, the area is really well kept, and has many cats guarding the temples. Needless to say its definitely a must visit attraction in Yamagata.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

Omoshiroyama Cosmos Berg

A train ride away from Yamadera lies Omoshiroyama Cosmos Berg. A rather under-rated attraction that I absolutely love. In Autumn, the yellow colors start blossoming leaving a rather majestic “sound-of-music” kind of atmosphere.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

I especially enjoyed sitting at the top, watching the scenery as the skies started welcoming the night.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

This area brought to my attention how Yamagata’s countryside is like. There are no highways or main roads, and the main centre location is where the train tracks lie. The whole area is incredibly isolated and I find myself wondering what life would be living in these mountains, far far far away from it all. What a scenic yet scary thought.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

Karamatsukannondo

Greeted first hand by a huge pot, which looks like it could cook Imoni for a party of 400. Or be soaking in there with a party of 400, an onsen party indeed.

This temple on the hill is similar to Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. Although it’s not that big in size, it has a lovely scene from the temple top.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

In summer, camping is popular around the temple. It’s a lovely opportunity for families and friends to spend time together, imagining life in that big pot, all sharing an Imoni.

Yamagata by Ichiyen

Yamagata Castle

Ok, a not so popular destination I’d admit. Since the castle is no more, it’s kind of mainly a park and gate forts kind of stroll. There are a few museums nearby and even an auditorium.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Ichiyen