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Mountain resort with highlands, hot springs, skiing and other snow activities in the winter.
Short trip from Tokyo to Zao

I recommend this course!

Yuqin Geng / I'm from Jilin, China / I have lived in Japan for 24 years.

Profile

I came to Japan as an overseas student in 1993, and studied at Yamagata University and Tohoku University. After graduation, my hopes in finding a job in Japan came to fruition and I started to work for the City of Yamagata. After working in the international exchanges and registration of overseas citizens, I am now in the Tourism and Local Products Department, where my job is to promote Yamagata's products and tourist attractions.
Yamagata is the hometown of the titular character from the famous Japanese television drama Oshin, and now, it has become my second hometown. Incidentally, Yamagata and my hometown of Jilin are sister cities. I believe that this, too, is fate.

At Zao, there are four distinct seasons. In spring, you can enjoy both the fresh greenery and corridors of snow. In summer there are the summer resorts, and in the fall it is like a beautiful and natural carpet of red foliage leaves. The town is snow-covered in winter, transforming it into a ski resort. The ski resort features 25 slopes, 41 lifts, the Yokokura Wall with its maximum incline of 38 degrees, and the downhill courses could stretch out to as far as 10km. The powder snow here is loved by ski enthusiasts from Japan and abroad. Even if you do not ski, you can admire the giant frost-covered trees known as "Snow Monsters" or dip in the natural hot springs. The hot springs in Zao are said to have beneficial effects for health and beauty. While you are here, do check out Zao's great food and the scenery of Okama. The newly-constructed ski jumping ramp and the World Cup event held here have made Zao even more popular.

Tokyo Station

JR Yamagata Shinkansen, Tsubasa (2hr 45min)
¥11,340

JR Yamagata Shinkansen

Yamagata Station

Walk (10min)

Kajo Park (Yamagata Castle)

  • Estimated time:1hr
  • Estimated cost:Free

A park famous for cherry blossoms, it is one of Japan's Top 100 Castles.

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Walk (10min)

Yamagata Sta. East Exit Stop

Yamako Bus (5min)
¥180

Higashihara Sanchome Stop

Walk (5min)

Momiji Park

  • Estimated time:30min
  • Estimated cost:Free

Yamagata's Little Kyoto, it is the best place to see the fall colors

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Walk (5min)

Higashihara Sanchome Stop

Yamako Bus (6min)
¥180

Yamagata Sta. East Exit Stop

Lunch

  • Estimated time:1hr

Chinese, Japanese, and Western cuisines can be found in Zao.

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Yamagata Sta. East Exit Stop

Yamako Bus (40min)
¥1,000

Zao Onsen Bus Terminal

Walk (15min)

Sanroku Station

Zao Ropeway (17min)
¥2,600

Zao Ropeway

  • Estimated time:17min
  • Estimated cost:¥2,600

Frost-covered trees, the Yokokura Wall, and a 10km-long downhill course

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Mt. Jizo Sancho Station

Zao Ropeway (17min)

Sanroku Station

Walk (15min)

Explore Zao hot springs

  • Estimated time:2hr

The Zao hot springs is well-known for its health and beauty benefits, strongly acidic and its water is 100% from the natural sources.

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Painting of Kokeshi doll

  • Estimated time:45min
  • Estimated cost:¥1,300

You can draw on a Kokeshi doll which is uniquely yours.

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Accommodation and dinner at Zao Onsen

Enjoy a night of good food and drinks.

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Zao Onsen Bus Terminal

Yamako Bus (40min)
¥1,000

Yamagata Sta. Stop

Walk (5min)

Yamagata Station

JR Senzan Line (18min)
¥240

Yamadera Station

Walk (10min)

Risshakuji (Yamadera) Temple

  • Estimated time:2hr 30min
  • Estimated cost:¥300

Yamagata's greatest ancient temple, and is one of the top tourist attractions.

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The various food choices in the surrounding area of Yamadera Station

  • Estimated time:1hr

The Yamadera specialties are konnyaku balls and Ennin mochi rice cakes.

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Yamadera Station

JR Senzan Line (1hr 11min)
¥11,750

Sendai Station (JR Senzan Line)

Transfer (9min)

Sendai Station (JR Yamagata Shinkansen)

JR Yamagata Shinkansen, Tsubasa (2hr 2min)

Tokyo Station

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