Yamagata (山形) is the prefectural capital of Yamagata prefecture.
The Yamagata Shinkansen zips from Tokyo to Yamagata in 2:45 at a cost of ¥10690, and continues onward to Shinjo. The dirty little secret, though, is that from Fukushima onward the Shinkansen travels on an ordinary track and thus at ordinary speeds.
Most of the town is centered around the JR station in the middle of town. Yamagata has a bus route, taxis, and bicycles for rent. Most of the most popular tourist destinations have bus routes that run to various areas around town.
From the JR station in the middle of town, there are free buses that will take you over to a decent amount of the local non-touristy shopping. JusCo has a bus that runs up until 4pm each day that visits the eastern Yamagata location. Central to the JR station, there is a wealth of local shops, department stores, book stores of all kinds. The main street that runs from the JR station has several side streets as well. Upon a recent visit, there were many shops that catered to all your basic needs, though very few were designed or meant exclusively as tourist destinations. There are very few chain stores in downtown Yamagata, though the skirts of town have a few chain stores like Joy (hardware goods like Lowes), Super Denkodo (Compusa/Best Buy-ish), JusCo (Wal-Mart/Target), and a Toys R Us.