Spot in Yamagata Prefecture

Mogami River boat tours [最上川舟下り]

Mogami gorge
Mogami gorge
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

Mogami gorge
Mogami gorge
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

Mogami River is the main river in Yamagata Prefecture, and is 229 km long.

It originates in a mountain in the southernmost part of Yamagata Prefecture.
The river flows to the north first, and changes the direction to the west around Shinjo city.
Then, it flows into the Sea of Japan.

The width of the river is totally wide, so this river had been the important traffic route in Yamagata Prefecture.

But there are some dangerous sections on the way.

Between Shinjo ciry and Sakata city near the mouth of the river, there is an gorge by the mountains which is about 15 km long.
It is named Mogamikyo (最上峡).

In May 1689, Matsuo Basho, the most famous "haiku" poet, composed a well-known haiku, when he visited Mogami River.
(Haiku has only 17 syllables. And it has three phrases with 5, 7, and 5 syllables.)

Samidare o
atsumete hayashi
(五月雨を 集めて早し 最上川)

The following is a translation by Donald Keene (1922-2019, an American-born Japanese scholar, historian, teacher, writer and translator of Japanese literature).

Gathering seawards
The summer rains, how swiftly flows
Mogami River

Therefore, this gorge is also called "Basho Rhein".
(In Japan, river cruising is often named "Rhein" after the scenic river in Germany.)

Inside of the boat
Inside of the boat
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

Cruising in winter
Cruising in winter
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

Map of Mogami River
Map of Mogami River

We can enjoy the boat tour here.

A boatman operates the boat with only a long pole, guides us along the river and sings local ballads.

Two companies operate the cruising boats now.

The cruising tour is held not only in warm season but also in snowy season.

Mogami River Basho Line Kanko

Furukuchi Port
Furukuchi Port
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

Shiraito Waterfall
Shiraito Waterfall
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

The tours are operated from Furukuchi (古口) to Kusanagi (草薙), and the distance is about 12 km.

The boat cruises slowly from the upstream to the downstream with the passengers seeing the scenery of the gorge.
It takes about an hour.

Furukuchi is a town located about 15 km west of Shinjo city and there is a station of JR Rikuu West Line.

The boarding port is located about 500 meters from Furukuchi station.

There was a chekcking station for ship between the 17th and the 19th centuries at this place.
Current building was restored after the model of the former station.

The passengers leave the boat at Kusanagi port.
There are a restaurant and shop in a building.

The nearest station of JR train is Takaya station, but it is about 2 km away from the port.

So, the route bus is operated accommodating for the arriving time of the boat.
The bus route is the following.

Kusanagi (4 min) Takaya Stn. (8 min) Furukuchi Stn. (3 min) Furukuchi Port

In addition, because the cruising is one way, there is the service to send a car from Furukuchi to Kusanagi for the tourist by car.

Mogami River Basyo Line

Yoshitsune Roman Kanko

Sen-nindo by the river
Sen-nindo by the river
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

Furukuchi Port
Photo by Yamagata Prefecture

The boarding point is near JR Takaya station.

The boat cruises the river, and returns to Takaya.
On the way, the boat visit Sen-nindo.
The cruising time is about an hour.

Sen-nindo is a small shrine established around the 12th century.
It is located on the mountainside on the opposite bank of Takaya.
Only this boat can visit this shrine because there is no road to the shrine.

This shrine has become popular as the god of marriage recently.

Above cruising is a regular tour.
As a special tour, there is the cruising that soba noodle and Imoni are served.
("Imoni" is a stew of "satoimo" (taro) and is a local cuisine of Yamagata Prefecture.
Commonly, sliced beef, kon-nyaku and green onion are added.)

Takaya station is an unmanned station.
But there is the small ticket office of the cruising by the station.

After you walk on a path to the river, there is the port.
There is no building and it is quite a natural riverbank.
The boat is operated from such port.

Yoshitsune Roman Kanko

How to get here

From Shinjo, by local train on JR Rikuu West Line, to Furukuchi about 20 minutes, to Takaya about 28 minutes.

From Sakata, by local train on JR Rikuu West Line, to Takaya about 38 minutes, to Furukuchi about 44 minutes.

Other Tourist Attractions in Yamagata Prefecture

Yamagata city Yamadera (Risshakuji temple) Mount Zao Yonezawa city Sakata city Tsuruoka city Three sacred mountains of Dewa Ginzan hot spring resort

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