Discover this old-fashioned capital packed with sacred places and a few surprises.
The capital of Yamaguchi prefecture, Yamaguchi city is famous for its old fashioned values. The city has an irresistible quaintness about it. If you want to see some of spiritual Japan but still have the conveniences of a city then this is the place for you.
This important city has sites ranging from the minimalist style to the extravagant style. For instance, Yamaguchi Daijingu shrine is one the simplest and most traditional shrines in Japan. Created to honor the Sun God Amaterasu, the shrine is famous for being exclusively Japanese and not taking any influence from Chinese architecture as most other buildings do in Japan. It is made exclusively of wood and has to be maintained every 20 years, but the locals feel it is worth it for the authenticity.
On the other hand, Rurikoji Temple is a quite extravagant site. The large Buddhist temple sits just outside the city, and it is best-known for beautiful grounds and a five-story pagoda. This temple takes a lot of influence from China, you can really see the difference in style from Yamaguchi Daijingu.
The city is also famous for Tsuki de hirotta tamago, soft cake filled with a different cream depending on the season. These cakes are said to be “eggs from the moon” and whilst they can be found all over Japan, they originated here in Yamaguchi. Make sure to try this delicious local dessert whilst you’re here.
For train lovers
Yamaguchi also offers something for the train fanatics out there. Since train spotting is incredibly popular in Japan, it is not surprising that Yamaguchi perfectly preserved its old-style steam engine. Originally built in 1937, the train has been dutifully maintained. The steam engine is called the SL Yamaguchi or C571 and runs through picturesque countryside from JR Shin-Yamaguchi station (Yamaguchi) and Tsuwano Station. You can ride it for just ¥500.
In the area
There is more to Yamaguchi than temples, shrines and food! Just outside of the city you’ll find an array of natural wonders to explore. In fact, the prefecture’s name translates to “mouth of the mountain” and for good reason. There are numerous mountain trails to explore, the best being the ones along the Ichinosaka River. If you are able to, you should also head over to Chomon Gorge and to see the mesmerizing waterfalls and canyons that are so popular among photographers.