Located in the Tohoku region and has its border runs along Sea of Japan coast line, Yamgata is an ideal place for you to enjoy your winter break with various events, festivals and many more.

1. Zao ropeway

You can take this ropeway to access Zao Sancho Stations then take a tough walk to reach the Zao Mount. The ropeway is inexpensive and has a mid-way stop that you can take a walk around before going up to the top station. There are great views from area around and it’d be a great experience for children.  

Zao Ropeway

Zao Ropeway. From Wikipedia

2. Skiing in Zao Mountain

After the Zao ropeway, finally you reached the Zao Mountain and get ready for your skiing trip! Above 1400m, the mount was filled with tree ice and snow. So you can ski along with hundreds of these scenery extending into the horizon. They also provide Ski trial lesson for the tourists is working under guide.

Skiing and cable car in Zao Mt

Skiing and cable car in Zao Mt. from Wikipedia

If you don’t want to ski, you can still take a ride on the cable car to reach the top to sightseeing, as long as the weather permits. On Zao Mount, there’s a resort, which is also good for snow hike. At night, there’ll be a night safari, and it’s a really amazing place. 

Zao Snow monsters

Zao Snow monsters. From Wikipedia

You can check out the ski trial lesson at Yamagata Kanko Website.

3. Relax at Zao Onsen

After the skiing, Zao onsen is the best next destination for you, it’s a small town, with hot spring water everywhere. And it takes about 20 minutes or more to get there, and remember to bring a towel (they also sell towel at the counter). One more thing to remember, there’re set of rules for people to get in the onsen, so if it’s your first time travel to Japan, check out the rules beforehand.

You can find out more about tips about entering onsen in this article: Dip Your Toes Into an Onsen in Japan – Best Onsen Recommendations

Zao hotsprings

Zao hotsprings. From Wikipedia

4. 1,015 steps to Risshaku-ji Temple

This amazing temple is both beautiful and set in an amazing location. Although it was a climb of 1,000 stone steps with various stone craving dotting the landscape, the steps are well worth to see the view from the top. The view is beautiful and has a calming presence, so it’s good if you can tune yourself into the environment.

5. Yamagata Museum of Art

This is a small and focused Art Museum, which usually holds Japanese print making exhibition goes with English explanations of the theme of the print as well as the history of the artist. Its peaceful atmosphere will surely please you in the middle of the winter.

Outside view of the museum

Outside view of the museum. From Wikipedia

6. Mogami river basyo decent

Having natural scenery surrounding the river shifts beautifully, Mogami river is such a vital natural resource of Yamagata.

Mogami river

Mogami river. From Wikipedia.

The best way to experience Mogami River Valley is to take a trip on the Mogami River Boat. During one hour, you will be able to spend approximately an hour taking in all the sights as you make your way down the river, you can also enjoy a meal on the boat if you make sure to reserve for one in advance. Especially, on this trip, the boatman will sing you a traditional river song.

Mogami Valley Basho Boat ride

999-6401 Yamagata-ken, Mogami-gun, Tozawa-mura, Ooaza, Furukuchi 86-1


9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Fee (one-way):
Adults: 1,970yen; Children: 990yen. Groups of 15 people or more: Adults: 1,780yen; Children: 900yen


Mogami River Yoshitsune Adventure Boat Ride


Fee (round-trip):
Adults: 1,930yen; Children: 970yen. Groups of 15 people or more: Adults: 1,740yen; Children: 870yen.


7. Cherry picking

Having 70% of the country’s production of cherries, Yamagata is very famous for cherries as well as cherries picking. It’s great to spend weekends in the gardens and orchards picking cherries with your loved ones!

Available in Tendo-shi, Kaminoyama-shi, Nanyo-shi, Higashine-shi and Tsuruoka-shi. Don’t forget to check the weather condition before going cherries picking.