Top things to do in Yamagata Prefecture

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Yamadera

Risshaku-ji

The 'Temple of Standing Stones', more commonly known as Yamadera, rests atop a rock-hewn staircase weathered over the centuries by unrelenting elements. At the foot of the mountain, guarded by a small lantern, is th…
Top Choice Mountain in Dewa Sanzan

Haguro-san

The 2446 stone steps through ancient cedars to Haguro-san's summit (419m) have been smoothed by centuries of pilgrims. The climb, taking up to two hours, passes Gojū-no-tō (五重塔), a beautiful wooden five-storey pagod…
Top Choice Mountain in Dewa Sanzan

Gas-san

Accessible from July to September, Gas-san (1984m) is the highest of Dewa Sanzan's sacred mountains. From Hachigōme (八合目; eighth station) the route passes through an alpine plateau to Kyūgōme (九合目; ninth station) in…
Top Choice Mountain in Dewa Sanzan

Yudono-san

Accessible from May to October, Yudono-san (1504m) is the spiritual culmination of the Dewa Sanzan trek. Coming from Gas-san it's a short walk from the stream bed at the end of the descent to Yudono-san-jinja.
Shinto Shrine in Dewa Sanzan

Gassan-jinja

At the peak of Gas-san is the deeply spiritual Shintō shrine of Gassan-jinja. Before entering you must be 'purifed': bow to receive the priest's benediction, then brush yourself head to toe with the slip of paper, p…
Barbecue in Zaō Onsen

Robata

The best Mongolian barbecue or jingisukan restaurant in Zaō (there are many) is a sharp operation where diners do the grunt work on plates of raw lamb and veggies. It's good smoky fun, well supported by a drinks men…
Cafe in Ginzan Onsen

Coté de la Poste

Tucked away on a corner near the bend in the river (next to the orange post box, hence the name), this petite coffee shop is the perfect spot for a post-soak tipple. Drinks are pricey, but the ambiance is unbeatable…
Cultural in Dewa Sanzan

Shōrei-sai

On New Year's Eve, yamabushi novices perform similar rituals to those of the mountain priests at the Hassaku Matsuri, competing with each other after completing a 100-day-long period of cleansing and self-deprivatio…
Cocktail Bar in Sakata

Kerun

In business for decades, Kerun is run by an octogenarian Japanese man who whisks up frothy whisky sours from a well-stocked bar that's surrounded by mirrors and booth seating. You can also get lovely filter coffee a…
Soba in Yamagata

Sobadokoro Shōjiya

Delicious chewy udon and signature soba bowls (hot or cold) are served with simple elegance at this friendly spot. The accompanying tempura and miso are respectively light and tangy. It's a worthwhile 10-minute walk…