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Yamagata Prefecture

Yamagata Prefecture in Tohoku DistrictYamagata PrefectureYamagata Prefecture is located on the Sea of Japan side of central Tohoku District.
The shape of the prefecture is similar to a human face.
Whole prefecture's border line is on some mountain ranges, and Mogami River flows through the prefecture.
Most cities and towns are along Mogami River, therefore they call it "Mother River".

The prefectural capital is Yamagata city, which is in the easternly center of the prefecture.
Sendai city is located 50 km east of Yamagata city, and Yamagata Shinkansen went into operation in 1992, so it is relatively easy to visit from Sendai or Tokyo.

Central and southern area of prefecture has relatively mild climate, but northern and coast area has much rain and much snow in winter.

Main industry is agriculture, especially the production of various fruits is well-known.
The crop yields of cherry and European pear are tops in Japan.

To come into Yamagata Prefecture, It is convenient to use Shinknasen from Tokyo and use domestic flight from other cities.

By Shinkansen, it takes about 2 hours and 30-50 minutes from Tokyo to Yamagata city.
Additionally it reaches Shinjo in the north part of the prefecture, and it takes about 45 minutes from Yamagata city.

In Yamagata Prefecture, there are two airports.

Yamagata airport is located about 18 km north of Yamagata city. It takes 43 minutes by route bus from JR Yamagata station.
It has the domestic flights from Haneda (Tokyo), Itami (Osaka), Nagoya and Shin-Chitose (Sapporo).

Shonai airport is located about 13 km south of Sakata city facing the Sea of Japan, and about 9 km northwest of Tsuruoka city.
It takes 35 minutes from Sakata city, and 25 minutes from Tsuruoka city by route bus.
It has the domestic flights from Haneda (Tokyo) and Itami (Osaka).

The climate in Yamagata city
Highest Temperature (deg C) 3.1 4.0 8.4 16.2 22.0 25.4 28.4 30.4 25.2 19.0 12.2 6.4
Lowest Temperature (deg C) -3.4 -3.3 -0.7 4.5 10.1 15.2 19.4 20.7 16.2 9.2 3.2 -.0.7
Mean monthly rainfall (mm) 83 63 69 68 75 111 157 151 127 92 85 83

Tourist spots in Yamagata Prefecture

Yamagata map

Yamagata city /1/
Yamadera (Risshakuji temple) /2/
Mount Zao /3/
Yonezawa city /4/
Mogami River boat tours /5/
Sakata city /6/
Chidokan, the Shonai Domain school /7/
Three sacred mountains of Dewa /8/
Ginzan hot spring resort /9/

Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

Main events in Yamagata Prefecture

Tendo Sakura FestivalShogi with human pieces in Tendo (Mid-April)

Tendo city is famous as main production center for pieces of Shogi (Japaanese chess).
So during Tendo Sakura Festival period (from the middle to late April), a few shogi games are played by professional players.
They don't play on a normal chessboard. The chessboard is a field on a hill, and each Shogi piece is a human wearing Japanese medieval armor.
Players command human pieces to move to desired position instead of moving a piece. It seems like a battle in the period of Civil War (the 16th century).

Yamagata Hanagasa FestivalYamagata Hanagasa Festival (Early August)

It is held in Yamagata city, and is one of famous summer festivals in Tohoku District.
"Hanagasa" is a sedge hat decorated with some red blossoms. Many dancers with hanagasa go dancing to the folk music "Hanagasa-ondo" through the streets.
The call in Hanagasa-ondo comes from a call that the workers tamped down the ground, and current song has been mixed with various songs during about a century.

Japan's greatest Imoni FestivalJapan's greatest Imoni Festival (The 1st Sunday in September)

It is a festival held in Yamagata city since 1989.
"Imoni" is a stew used "satoimo" (taro), and commonly sliced beef, kon'nyaku and green onion are added to it, then it is like "sukiyaki".
Originally after harvesting operation, it has been cooked in a large pot, then many farmers have eaten it together.
In this festival, it is cooked in two huge pots 6 meters and 3 meters in diameter, then more than 30 thousand visitors can taste it.
Of course, the pots are too large, so a few backhoes are also operated to cook.

Local foods and products in Yamagata Prefecture


Cherry is called "sakuranbo" in Japanese.
Yamagata Prefecture has more than 70 percent share of the Japan's cherry production.
The popular cultivar is named "Sato-nishiki". It is brilliant red and tastes sweet, so commonly we eat it raw. The picking season is late June.
The season of other cultivars is also from mid-June to early July.


Safflower is called "benibana" in Japanese. It symbolizes Yamagata Prefecture.
In the 18th century, this region was one of the largest production centers of safflower in Japan. But since the late 19th century, it had declined rapidly by increase of imported Chinese safflower.
Now there are not so many farms of safflower. But when the blossoms open up in July, the events for safflower are held at each farm.

Yonezawa beefYonezawa Beef

It is the beef produced around Yonezawa city in the south part of Yamagata Prefecture. It is known as one of tasty beefs in Japan.
In 1871, a British teacher who was invited to Yonezawa for English education had this beef, and at that time he was surprised at the excellent taste.
So when he left Yonezawa, he took a cow to Yokohama, his primary destination in Japan.
Since that, Yonezawa beef has become famous.

Piece of shogiPieces of Shogi (Japanese chess)

Shogi is a Japanese board game, and is translated as "Japanese chess" in English.
Tendo city produces more than 90 percent of the pieces of Shogi in Japan.
The piece is pentagon-shaped and is made by carving from wood. On both sides of each piece, a name of the role is written with black lacquer or carving.

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