Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day Trip: Hiking in Yamagata

Recently I went hiking with a couple friends in the neighboring prefecture of Yamagata. It's just a 30 minute or so train ride out of Sendai to the the mountains that line the border between Miyagi and Yamagata, and the train ride itself is pretty scenic- it passes through the Japanese countryside and up into the mountains. We got off at a mountain called Omoshiroyama, and hiked through a small canyon beside a river that leads to the town of Yamadera. Yamadera which literally translates to "Mountain Temple" is a popular tourist attraction from Sendai. As the name would suggest, the town hosts a number of temples built into a mountain.

The trail was pretty easy, but not very well-maintained. There were lots of sections where the trail became less than half a foot wide next to a small drop, or seemed to disappear into the bushes. But it was still a really beautiful hike, with lots of cute bridges built over the river.

The day we went was quite hot and humid, and so we took the opportunity to go swimming in the river. It's pretty shallow, but we managed to find a good swimming hole next to "Whale Rock". The rock also made a great spot for jumping in.

"Whale Rock", my new favorite swimming spot!

Best of all there were a number of waterfalls all along the trail. It's about a 3 hour hike, longer if you go for a swim like we did, so we brought some lunch and ate by one of the falls.

I definitely recommend the hike, but I would suggest bringing a map or a local with you. There's one part after the canyon trail ends where you have to leave the trail and take the road into Yamadera which might be a little confusing. But it's a gorgeous hike and definitely worth a visit if you're in the region.


  1. Ooh it looks nice, except for the bridges, those look terrifying.

  2. Well, the bridges where generally only about 15 feet over the river, so we weren't exactly risking our lives on them. But they did sway quite a lot!

  3. I'm glad you didn't die, that would be an embarrassing death.

  4. Yeah, I'd hate for my last thought to be, "Well, this is embarrassing."