20 Best Things to do in Yamagata | Bucket List Ideas | Attractions | Activities

The list of awesome things to do in Yamagata knows no limits, with the prefecture offering many holiday ideas that are as just as massive as the region itself. Natural landmarks like the Mogami river, Yura coast, and the revered trio mountains of Dewa Sanzan, with each representing the past, present, and future, usually spearhead the wishes of many who journey here, continuously turning heads with impressive nature, intriguing legends, and rich histories.

For lovers of Japanese martial arts, there are also plenty of things to do in Yamagata. Home to samurai establishments honed in the image of Hayashizaki Shigenobu, the pioneer of Iaido, you're guaranteed a peek in to well-preserved samurai swordsmanship. Pottery enthusiasts, meanwhile, will have their hands full with classes while winter sports lovers will have great fun across famous ski resorts such as Zao that ensure your winter is anything but cold!

More wonderful things to do in Yamagata also entail a night out dining under the stars, diving with pelagic fish off Yura coast, and hot spring baths across famous onsens. Please fasten your seat belts as we take you on a rollercoaster of the Yamagata's best offerings !!

1. Meander across fairytales in a Mogami River boat tour

Herald by many as the mother river of the Yamagata prefecture, Mogami river breathes beautiful life and color into the plant life wherever it flows. It makes for the perfect cruises!

Boat Trips Down the Mogami River
Enjoy the Colorful Seasonal Nature Scenery of Mogami River on a Boat Tour!
Tozawa, Yamagata

2. Master the ways of the soil with ceramic pottery

Pottery may be a forgotten art to some, but Yamagata's Tendo city and Shirataka town treasure this heritage that has been passed down centuries. Join classes for the ultimate courses in molding and more!

Yamadera Yaki Nagase Pottery
Enjoy Ceramics Pottery Experience on Your Way to the Famous Sightseeing Spot in Yamadera!
Yamadera, Yamagata
Tendo grilled Wakamatsu kiln
Design Your Own Creative Shapes with Your Hands in a Beginner and Family Friendly Pottery Experience!
Tendō, Yamagata
Miyama grilled Miyama workshop Tutsi dumpling
Beginner-Friendly Pottery Experience Using an Electric Wheel!
Shirataka, Yamagata

3. Paragliding Yamagata: Endless beauty from the sky

A paragliding experience in Nanyo shows you the world of green plains and wonderful architecture shadowed by clouds that are almost at your fingertips. Shirataka's beautiful landscapes are also on the menu!

Ton Ton Winbreak Paragliding School
Tandem Paragliding Flight Experience from an Altitude of 500m with an Experienced Instructor!
Shirataka, Yamagata
Soaring system paragliding school
Enjoy the Superb Views of Nanyo Sky Park on a Tandem Paragliding Flight Experience!
Nanyo, Yamagata
Soaring system paragliding school
Recommended for Beginners! Tandem Paragliding Experience (Two-Seater Flight)
Nanyo, Yamagata

4. Diving with pelagic fish in Yura

Yura coast is famous for the Sea of Japan and the magical sunsets over it. Divers can also enjoy spending time with anchovies, sea breams, colorful trout, and salmons in an expansive underwater world!

Institute Tohoku Marine Sports Promotion Association
Learn the Skills to Obtain an Open Water Diving Certification (Minimum 2 Days Course)
Tsuruoka, Yamagata

5. Explore the culinary riches of Sagae on a foodie tour

From crisp meat barbecues and skewered yakitori chicken to soba noodles, delicious vegetable recipes, and rice wines, a foodie tour of Sagae has something for everyone!

Activity Japan Tohoku (Sagae City)
Explore Sagae in a Night Foodie Tour: Enjoy Local Dishes and Drinks with Like a Local!
Sagae, Yamagata

6. Hijiori onsen: Baths like no other

Hot spring bathing is more than just about taking baths; it's a relaxing practice with deeper meaning spanning into culture and spirituality. Your stay in a hidden mountain village at Hijiori onsen will open your eyes to many pleasures!

Inoutbound Sendai/ Matsushima
Stay Overnight at a Traditional Hot-Spring Inn in a Hidden Mountain Village and Indulge in a Traditional Course Meal of Authentic'Shojin Ryori' (Shinto Vegetarian Cuisine)
Okura, Yamagata

7. A Tendo trip for your taste buds

Hitting the headlines for its special beef and seafood, Yamagata's Tendo is another exquisite location for a tasty tour. You'll be wowed by special sukiyaki and wagyu tempura, not forgetting two very popular brands of native sake!

Inoutbound Sendai/ Matsushima
Indulge in a Tasting Set of Wagyu (Yamagata Beef) and Pair with Two Varieties of Delicious Local Sake!
Tendo, Yamagata

8. Zao onsen: Baths that reach into your soul

When the weight of the world leans heavy, retreat to the hot spring baths of Zao for a cleansing experience that goes beyond the physical. Nature walks around the premises are also just as nourishing!

Zao Onsen Tsuruya Hotel
Guided Tour Around the Hot Spring Town: Relax in an Open-Air Bath, Public Bath, and Private Room!
Zaoonsen, Yamagata

9. Explore your martial arts fantasies in Murayama

Murayama city is treasured as the cradle of Iaido and authentic samurai and martial arts experiences in general. Be part of private training sessions and amazing sword displays in a Hayashizaki shrine!

Murayama City Tourist Product Association
Practice the Japanese Martial Arts Iaido in a Real Samurai Experience at Hayasizaki Iai Shrine
Murayama, Yamagata
Murayama City Tourist Product Association
Authentic Samurai Experiences Including Iaido Performance Demonstration and Sword Practice in Murayama City, Yamagata!
Murayama, Yamagata

10. Enjoy priceless mornings at Yamadera temple

Watch as the sun greets the landscapes with gentle rays that glitter across the wet leaves at sunrise from a wooden promenade that provides a beautiful screen in nature's living room. Yamadera temple promises magical mornings!

Inoutbound Sendai/ Matsushima
Enjoy the Fresh Morning Air and Beautiful Views of Yamadera & Climb 1000 Steps to Serenity at Hojuzan Risshaku Temple!
Yamadera, Yamagata

11. Jellyfish and holy mountains in Tsuruoka

Tsuruoka city is the place to be for an unforgettable heritage anatomy of Japan. Visit the three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan before stopping over at the Kamo aquarium for viewings of 50 different types of Jellyfish and more!

Mie Transportation Co., Ltd. (tourism sales Systems)
Guided Tour Around Tsuruoka City's Heritage: Mount Haguro, Dewa Sanzan Shrine, Kamo Aquarium, and More!
Tsuruoka, Yamagata

12. A night of Yonezawa beef under the stars

Dine under the chandelier of twinkling stars on a romantic dinner out with your special someone. The Yonezawa beef is just as memorable as the constellations above!

Iide Town Town Development Corporation
Stargazing Tour with Authentic Yonezawa Beef Dinner, a Specialty of Yamagata Prefecture!
Iide, Yamagata

13. A magical foodie tour of Sagae city

Yamagata continues to impress with its food culture, and this time that comes in the way of specialty simmered dishes tours in Sagae city, including beef potatoes and finger-licking udon noodles!

Grever SAGE
Savor Yamagata's Local Dish Imoni Hot Pot Made with Fresh Potatoes and Yamagata's Beef at Sagae City (One Drink and Dessert Included)
Sagae, Yamagata

14. Learn noodle-making tips for your recipe book

Speaking of noodles, you can also delve behind the curtains and into the kitchen as you unlock the secret to the best foods with bucket wheat noodle-making experiences in Okura village!

Shiki Forest Nature Hall
Enjoy Making Freshly Made Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Your Own Hands
Yuza, Yamagata
Oldness and taste visit building
Soba Noodle Cooking Class in the Countrysides of Yamagata!
Okura, Yamagata

15. Live like a local at a traditional Japanese inn

Get a taste of authentic Japanese life with a Minshuku bed and breakfast sleepover. Explore the area's riches that include a famous temple nestled within gorgeous autumn colors!

Vegetable Harvesting Experience and Strolling Around Yamadera with a Local Guide!
Yamadera, Yamagata

16. Discover the secret to great wasabi in Okura

Natured by spring water and extremely nutritious soil, wasabi from Okura village offers waves of freshness and rich taste. Aside from indulging a treat, you can also be part of the harvesting and processing!

Okura Wasabi
Wasabi Farm Tour and Wasabi Harvest Experience in the Clear Air and Beautiful Scenery of Okura Village
Okura, Yamagata

17. Learn to make art with Yamagata Cloisonné classes

Add a touch of beauty to metal works and everyday accessories through Cloisonné. Make ornaments for your family, souvenirs on your trip, and more, on a family-friendly day out with Cloisonné.

Shop inside shop stuffed cheeks
Cloisonne Making Workshop in Yamagata!
Hatagomachi, Yamagata

18. Feed the spirit with a visit of Mount Haguro

One of the three sacred mountains of Dewa, Mount Haguro towers above its siblings on account of visits and popularity. It might symbolize today's troubles, but the fresh air and spiritual nature around ooze only tranquility and beauty!

19. Get cozy with comfort at the Ginzan onsen

As the cold season gradually sweeps its way across Japan, Ginzan Onsen grows more appealing by the day. It is famous for hot spring baths and picture-perfect hiking trails in extraordinary scenery!

20. Zao onsen ski resort: Family fun awaits

A hot spring resort village that's always great to visit no matter what time of year, Zao onsen ski resort offers fun gondolas, snow-laden skiing, and racecourses with ice monsters!

Frequently asked questions

Q Are there any good things to do in Yamagata?

A There are so many things to do in Yamagata that you'd need several months to experience them all. The most popular entail;

• Tempura and Sukiyaki tours

• Iaido classes and martial arts

• Zao resort skiing and onsen holidays

• Yonezawa beef outings

• Yamadera farm tour involving vegetable harvesting

Q What is Yamagata famous for?

A Yamagata is home to the three holy mountains of Dewa Sanzan, namely Mount Yudono, Gassan, and Haguro. The prefecture is also famous for its cherry blossoms in springs and the more than a millennium old Yamadera temple that is shrouded in gorgeous vegetation in autumn ..

Q What can you do in the outdoors of Yamagata?

A With winter on the horizon, perfect weather, great seas, and beautiful landscapes all around, there are many incredible outdoor things to do in Yamagata. These include:

• Zao resort skiing

• Sagae food tours

• Mogami river cruises

• Wasabi farm tours

Q Does Yamagata have any good winter activities for visitors?

A Winter is the perfect time to hang out at Zao ski resort as you'll get to experience skiing across monster-looking, snow-covered trees. Ginzan, Zao, and Hijiori onsens also offer nice warm baths and hikes that are desirable in winter and throughout the year as well.

Q Are there any good kid-friendly activities in Yamagata?

A If you're traveling with family, Yamagata has no shortage of kid-appropriate activities. You all can enjoy:

• Kamo aquarium visits

• Zao ropeway rides

• Pottery classes

• Mogami river tours in a beautiful gorge

• Skiing Zao ski resort, which is famous for its ice monsters or juhyo