Yamagata Prefecture is a treasure trove of magnificent nature, with famous mountains, basins, plains, and the Mogami River. The production volume of cherries is the highest in Japan, and the production of other fruits such as grapes and La France is also popular. Of course, hot springs and outdoor leisure activities are also very popular.
Weather characteristics differ depending on the region. Weather conditions in Yamagata Prefecture need to be considered separately for the Shonai, Mogami, Murakami, and Okitama areas. The Shonai region on the Sea of Japan side has a maritime climate, so there is little snow, while the Mogami region to the east experiences heavy snowfall. Although there is less snow in the plains of the Murayama region, there are large differences in temperature throughout the day and between seasons. The Okitama region is a very cold place with hot summers and heavy snowfall in winter.
The heaven of natural hot springs (onsen) with iconic view
Zao Onsen – nestled in the Zao mountain range, Zao Onsen is known for its therapeutic hot springs and picturesque outdoor baths. The region transforms into a winter wonderland, attracting visitors with its “snow monsters” created by frozen trees.
Ginzan Onsen: A charming hot spring town, Ginzan Onsen is renowned for its nostalgic ambiance, lined with beautifully preserved ryokans (Japanese inns) along a scenic river.
Traditional cuisine of Yamagata – Imoni
Imoni is a famous Japanese meat stew including a type of taro and meat soup and holds a special place in the culinary traditions of Yamagata Prefecture. Prepared with beef, various vegetables, and a subtly sweet broth of soy sauce, sake, and sugar, it is enjoyed like any soup but gains distinction as a beloved outdoor food. In Yamagata, people eat Imoni primarily during the late summer and early autumn. The riverside gatherings in Yamagata during fall, encircling the simmering Imoni pot, exemplify a cultural bonding experience, where friends and family come together to celebrate the changing seasons.
Featured rice varieties
Yamagata Prefecture is renowned for its high-quality rice, and the cultivation of rice is a significant part of its agricultural heritage. The prefecture’s rice benefits from its geographical features, including fertile plains and suitable climate conditions. Yamagata produces several premium rice varieties known for their taste and texture. One of the well-known varieties is Tsuyahime rice and its younger brother Yukiwakamaru.