Largest City


More than a winter wonderland

Winter is coming. But so is spring, summer and fall at this rewarding year-round destination.

Outside of winter not many people venture into the hills of Yamagata, located in the southwest of the already remote Tohoku region. This is despite the abundance of hot springs, mountaintop temples, natural parks and a giant game of human chess vying for tourists’ attention during the rest of the year.

Spot white-robed ascetics, called yamabushi, performing ritual training practices among the cedar-covered slopes.

Yes, the skiing at Zao Onsen ski resort, with it’s famous ‘ice monsters’, is epic but it’s not the prefecture’s only attraction – make the effort to discover the rest, the rewards are plenty.

Carve through ice monsters at Zao ski resort.

Zip through the ice monsters at Zao ski resort.

Whatever the time of year, the Zao National Park is worth a trip. Skiing or boarding through rows of snow-covered trees known as ‘juhyo’ or ice monsters is a winter highlight, while the hiking and open-air hot springs are beautiful through the warmer months.

Mummies in Yamagata??

Where to see the mummified monks in Yamagata, Japan
Yamagata City is the prefectural capital and makes a nice home base for exploring the prefecture. It’s big on festivals, both typical and novelty, including the summer Hanagasa matsuri or ‘flower-hat festival’ where groups of dancers perform in flower-adorned straw hats, and the Taro and Beef Stew Party festival held in fall.

Next door is Tendo city, famous for producing 95% of the country’s chess pieces. The Ningen Shogi, a giant human chess tournament, is really fun to see if you’re around in spring.

Yamadera temple in Yamagata Prefecture in the Tohoku region

Ah this silence / sinking into the rocks / voice of cicada

To the northeast lies Yamadera Temple, officially known as Risshaku-ji, a spectacular mountaintop temple complex where Basho famously composed one of his most popular haiku. The temple area is vast, covering the whole of Mount Hoju, making for some serious poetic inspiration as you trek around.

Yamabushi monks in tsuruoka, YamagataJapan

Photo by: Yamabushido The yamabushi mountain monks of Yamagata partake in waterfall meditation. Try it for yourself!

The three sacred peaks of Dewa Sanzan are said to have the oldest history of mountain worship in Japan. You can spot white-robed ascetics, called yamabushi, performing ritual training practices among the cedar-covered slopes.

If you’d like to take on the challenge of bathing in ice water on top of extreme food and sleep-deprivation as a pathway to purity you can join in the training session open to newcomers. Arranging this will take some digging around but the Yamagata Tourism Information center are happy to help serious applicants.

Explore this remote, but travel-worthy prefecture through the locations below!


Where to see the mummified monks in Yamagata, Japan

Mummies in Yamagata??

Come face to face with the remains of six self-mummified monks across the prefecture by following our comprehensive guide.


Places to visit

Find poetic inspiration at Yamadera Mountain Temple in Yamagata

Yamadera Temple

One thousand steps to Yamagata’s most iconic spot.

mount gassan


Whatever way the jellyfish go...

Tendo City’s Ningen Shogi (Human Chess) and Sakura Festival

A grand battle of human-sized Japanese chess under 2,000 cherry blossoms — a unique event to see while traveling in northern Japan.

The Mummy at Churen-ji Temple

What do The Beatles and a mummy have in common? You can find them both at this Yamagata Temple.

Ginzan Onsen

Mountain onsen village for luxury lovers or budget backpackers.


The Mummy at Ryusui-ji Dainichibo Temple

Join a Buddhist ritual and see a real-life mummy at this temple in Yamagata


A quick dip for daytrippers in Ginzan Onsen.

Mount Haguro's pagoda.

Mount Haguro

The most visited and accessible summit of the “sacred mountains” in the area of Dewa, an ancient province.

Higashizawa Rose Park

The beauty of 20,000 roses — best in summer and fall!

Zao onsen snow

Zao Onsen

Making stripping worthwhile since 110 A.D.

Other Destinations in Tohoku

Godzilla Rock Oga, Akita Japan


The best way to enjoy Akita is simply to go outside and be among it. Watch out for Godzilla though.

Tsurunomaihashi Bridge in Aomori Prefecture.


The northern tip of Tohoku and the boundary between the known and unknown Japan.

Ouchijuku in Fukushima, Japan.


Don't miss out on this boundless, breathtaking natural landscape.

Genbikei Gorge


The local people say that Iwate is a place where you forge your own path. Take their advice and enjoy this re-emerging—and rewarding—destination.

Hitome Senbon Zakura in Miyagi, Japan.


With vibrant Sendai at its core, Miyagi makes the ideal base for exploring the remote corners of Tohoku.

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Nagoya City Aichi Park


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Tokyo Skyline Japan Tokyo Tower


From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.


Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.