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[Summary] Zao Onsen! All eight day trip bathing facilities
Yamagata Prefecture is located in the Tohoku region of Honshu, the main island of Japan.
It is famous for its variety of fruits, especially cherries, numerous hot springs, abundant nature and ancient temples.
With plenty of nature, it is a must-go-to destination for hikers, skiers and cherry-blossom or Autumn leaves viewers.
A food kingdom boasting Japan’s largest production of cherries, it is also famous for ramen and soba noodles, Yonezawa beef (considered one of the three most famous brands of Japanese beef) and delicious local sake.
It is home to many traditional hot spring towns and baths surrounded by nature, like Zao Onsen’s famous Great Outdoor Bath.
Many buildings remain from different eras to create a unique landscape where past and modern culture coexist.
It is known for its long tradition of various craftsmanship, including the production of wooden pieces used in Japanese chess, but also the more recent wood tableware and building blocks.
There is plenty of entertainment, from the dancing parade Yamagata Hanagasa Festival to the folkloric Kasedori of Kaminoyama where men dress in straw costumes, the Tendo Human Chess festival and the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival.
Yamagata offers many attractive destinations for everyone in every season.
Risshaku-ji temple, most commonly known as Yamadera (lit. “Mountain Temple”), is one of the most popular scenic attraction of Yamagata.
Due to unique climate conditions, the fir trees at the top of Zao are covered in rime-frost to turn into fantastic “snow monsters” during the cold months of winter.
This secluded hot spring town is known for its nostalgic scenery of historic inns lined up along a river lit-up at night.
Located in Tsuruoka City on the coast of the Sea of Japan, this aquarium has the world’s largest collection of jellyfish.
The Five-storied Pagoda of Mt. Haguro, one of the Three Sacred Mounts of Dewa, is a recognized National Treasure of Japan.
“The mother River of Yamagata” once thrived during the safflower-trading days as it extends from the south of the prefecture all the way to the Sea of Japan.
Yamagata is famous for its onsen, natural hot springs found in facilities, resorts and hotels all over the prefecture. You can fully enjoy your stay at a hotel or traditional ryokan by bathing in its dedicated onsen, or just casually visit a day-trip facility to soak and relax in the middle of your journey. There are easy-to-access onsen in downtown areas of some cities, but also others found only deep in the mountains. Yamagata’s onsen are known for their rich variety of locations but also ambiences. Furthermore, the water qualities and properties are unique to each hot spring source. Make sure to try many to discover your favorite ones!
This is a hot spring resort located deep in the mountains, yet just 40 minutes away by car from Yamagata Station. It is one of Japan’s most acidic hot springs and has an abundant water flow.
This hot spring located near Kaminoyama Castle in the center of Kaminoyama City is generally divided in two areas, Yumachi and Hayama. It is an ancient hot spring town home to a wide variety of lodging facilities.
This hot spring is located in downtown Tendo, about 15 minutes away on foot from Tendo Station. There is plenty of nature and numerous orchards nearby, making it a great location to enjoy many activities. It is also just 15 minutes away by car from the famous Yamadera Temple.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many events are cancelled, some facilities have shortened opening hours, and activities introduced here may not be available for the time being. Please make sure to confirm beforehand whether or not the destination you plan to visit is open to the public. Thank you for your understanding.
Here we introduce activities unique to Yamagata. Come try something original!
You will get to discover iaido to handle a genuine samurai sword and try slashing through rolled-up tatami. It might be your only opportunity to hold and handle a sword in Japan as it is usually against the law, yet allowed here after proper certification. You will of course first train with wooden swords as doing so with real ones is dangerous. The rolled-up tatami will have the thickness of a human thigh, and it will be impossible for an untrained person to cut through it. You will first learn from a master the principles of iaido and how to handle a sword before experiencing the actual cutting.
Up in the mountains of Zao you will find “snow monsters,” fir trees covered in rime-ice due to unique climatic conditions. They will have a white and fluffy, fantastic appearance. In this activity you can go trek near them while wearing snowshoes and guided by a mountain instructor. Take this opportunity to walk on snow in the mountains! Some tours also offer the option to go see Zao’s Okama crater lake, otherwise inaccessible in winter.
In this activity, you will make a light out of local washi paper through a technique transmitted through generations from the Edo period. An artist will show you how to build the light while you choose the patterns to display. Your handmade creation will have a professional finish and beautifully diffuse a relaxing light.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak all activities are currently unavailable. Thank you for your understanding.