Yamagata is noted for its beautiful environment. Mountains, rivers and the sea are features of this Prefecture, situated on northern Honshu, the largest island of the Japanese Archipelago. The world-famous Zao ski resort and numerous area hot springs make Yamagata a favored destination for tourists and vacationers.
Yamagata has traditionally been a processing center for fine Japanese silk. Fruit is another economic mainstay. Cherries, nicknamed "Little Sweethearts," are a local symbol, while some of Japan's best grapes, apples and pears are grown here. Distinctive regional cuisine includes mountain vegetable cooking, beef sukiyaki and locally produced sake.
Around Yamagata, the "Three Mountains of Dewa" (Haguro, Yudono and Gassan) are considered sacred. Religious seekers can, for instance, hike up to the Haguro Shugendou (shrine) via 2,446 stone steps running from the foot of Mount Haguro through splendid cedar forests to its summit.
Yamagata visitors may want to plan trips around warm weather festivals and events, which can be peaceful as well as exciting. On spring nights, for instance, the cherry blossoms of local Tsuruoka Park are illuminated by paper lanterns, while the Uesugi Festival in early May features a re-enactment of a feudal battle with Samurai warriors fighting amid the sound of firelock guns.