Whether you are waiting for the bus to Mount Zao, on the way to Yamadera, or in town for the famous film festival, you may find yourself at Yamagata station with some time on your hands. Don’t worry; there is plenty to do. Here are your top 5 choices:
5. Check out the terrain.
Bask in a panoramic birds-eye view of the city and its surrounding mountains on the 23rd floor of Kajo Central. The tallest building in Yamagata offers a public viewing room in 360 degrees. Tables and chairs are set up so you can enjoy your own lunchbox or snacks while taking in the stunning scene for free. A small exhibition of photos compares city streetscapes and landmarks of the past with how they look today. The building is connected to Yamagata Station, follow the signs for 霞城セントラル. Use the elevators on your right in the corridor before you enter the building proper.
4. Expand your noodle repertoire.
Yamagata is well known for noodle dishes including cold ramen or reimen. Reimen Sakura, a lovely Korean fusion restaurant on the east side of the station, is a culinary delight. Their unique signature cold noodle dish has a clear broth with kimchi flavor. If you’re looking for a hot meal, the beef rice bowl will melt in your mouth. Conveniently located on the second floor just above the police box and the bus ticket sales office.
3. Stock up on snacks and souvenirs.
Find everything you need in the basement of the station. Slightly salty and crunchy senbei rice crackers are a perfect pick-me-up on the hiking trail. Locally made in the nearby town of Sagae, the Sagae-ya (さがえ屋) brand is very affordable and delicious; individually wrapped mame senbei also make a perfect gift. Don’t forget to pick up some green tea to have during your trip, and take sachets home as the ultimate taste of Japan.
2. Drink like the dignitaries.
Pick up a bottle of Asahi machi wine at the “spirits corner” in the basement of the station. Served to world leaders at the recent G7 summit in Ise, the prize-winning regional beverage comes in red or white. A variety of local sakes are also on offer, and make for a relaxing end to a long day on the ski slopes.
1. Savor soba culture.
Just a five minute walk from the station, Shojiya (庄司屋) is a cozy soba shop where the locals eat. And in Yamagata, that says a lot. Unlike Tokyo, or really anywhere else in Japan, people here like their soba hard, thick, and in large quantities. The percentage of pure soba in the noodle is a mark of quality that Yamagata natives take seriously; Shojiya passes the test with high scores.