Yamagata Prefecture can be found in the Southwest corner of Tohoku, bordering the Sea of Japan. It also borders Niigata Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture on the South, and Miyagi Prefecture to the East. It is actually the largest producer of cherries and pears in the whole of Japan.
The Prefecture itself is famous for a dish called Imoni. A type of potato stew that is popular in the northern regions of Japan during the Autumn. People have potato soup parties, called Imonikai, during the season.
Throughout February, a snow lantern festival draws thousands of locals and travellers to the region. It is held in Yonezawa, at the Uesugi Shrine. People enjoy it because they get to see hundreds of candle lit lanterns lighting pathways that have been dug directly into the snow around the shrine itself. It would be an advisable time to visit the region.
If you enjoy participating in winter sports, then you should visit Zao Onsen Ski Resort, which is located incredibly close to the hot spring resort of Zao. The area itself is actually known among Japanese people for Juhyo, which are frozen trees that look as though they are shaped like snow monsters. The phenomenon itself is rare and only occurs visibly in this area.
You can find the largest festival in Yamagata in Yamagata City. It occurs during the first weekend of August, and people get together to perform the Hanagasa dance in the center. It usually attracts around 30,000 locals and tourists every year.
For travellers that are seeking a scenic Japanese temple in Yamagata Prefecture, you can find Yamadera Temple high up in the mountains to the Northeast of Yamagata City. The temple grounds extend right up the side of the mountain, and the views across the valley are stunning. In Japanese, the name Yamadera means ‘mountain temple’.