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 ¥10,690, and continues onward to Shinjo. 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.
Yamadera. Yamadera is a mountain temple complex that is a 20 minute train ride northeast of Yamagata city. To walk to the top temple, a visitor must climb 1,015 steps. Yamadera was also visited by Matsuo Basho who is the most famous poet of the Edo period and was instrumental in helping to develop the haiku poetry style. One of his most famous haiku's about the cicada's cry was written after visiting Yamadera.
Yamagata Castle Ruins and Kajo Park. The complex includes reconstructed ruins of the Yamagata castle. At the Ninomaru Higashi Otemon Gate Turret, visitors can enter inside and exhibits on the reconstruction process can be viewed.
Kyodokan Museum is a museum that displays medical-related exhibits and formerly acted as a private hospital. The western style wooden building has a main section with a ring structure connected in the back and a Japanese style garden in the middle. The director of the hospital was Albrecht von Roretz. Admission is free.
Yamagata Normal School is a beautiful western style wooden building which later became the New Department of Education of Yamagata University.
Yamagata Museum of Art which includes works done by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Takahashi Yuichi, and Yosa Buson.
Bunkyo-kan which is the former prefectural office building and old parliament building. The building was built in 1916 after a fire destroyed the original wooden building. The building's style is that of a western style.
Mt. Chitose offers hiking with a temple at the base and is regarded as a spiritual place.
Hanagasa Matsuri is a festival held in August every year where groups of dancers perform in the street while holding Hanagasa which are special hats decorated with flowers on them.
Japan's Biggest Imoni Festival is a festival in which they make Yamagata's comfort food, Imoni. The event is held every year on the first Sunday of September.
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), Super Denkodo (electronics), JusCo (giant supermarket), and a Toys R Us.
Yamagata has several dishes that are specific to the area.
"Imoni" is a simmered potato stew that includes beef. It is considered a comfort food for the people in Yamagata City and Prefecture. Since 1989, Yamagata City has hosted Japan's biggest Imoni Festival.
Hiyashi Ramen is a soy sauce based ramen that is served cold and can include ice cubes in the bowl and toppins such as cucumber, nori, onions, bean sprouts, bamboo, and roast beef.
Tama konnyaku (or Chikara Konnyaku) are skewered balls of konnyaku that have been simmered in a soy sauce and sugar mixture.
Igamochi is a sticky mochi ball with a yellow bean paste center which are from the Mt. Zao onsen area. They are usually served on bamboo leaves with three balls per leaf. They must be sold and eaten the same day as they harden within a day.
Cold Niku Soba is a buckwheat soup made from a rich chicken broth instead of the usual pork or beef. The soup is not served hot though not necessarily ice cold.
Various fruits. Yamagata prefecture is famous for growing a variety of fruits including Sakuranbo Cherries, La France Pears, strawberries, grapes, peaches, plums, and apples.
Noshi Ume or Thun Plum Jam Agar is a thin jelly snack sandwiched between two bamboo leaves and flavored with Japanese plums.
Juhyou Roman are wafer cookies with chocolate layers sandwiched in between.
Yamagata Prefecture is famous for Sake.