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Enjoy the Fall Scenery! Five Recommended Spots to See the Foliage in Yamagata, Tohoku Region

Although Yamagata in the Tohoku region is famous for the Juhyo "Snow Monsters" of Zao, it also has beautiful scenery in the fall with the foliage that turns a variety of different colors. Here are five recommended spots to see the fall foliage.

1. Risshakuji (Yamadera)

Official Name: Hojusan Risshakuji
This is a historic temple built in 860 commonly referred to as "yamadera" (mountain temple). Its grounds cover the entire Mt. Hoju area in the city of Yamagata, and there are many temple buildings on the steep mountain hills.
The appeal here is that in addition to the temple, you can enjoy the foliage that paints the entire mountain red and yellow in the fall. In particular, the view from Godai-do, which is a place to pray for peace and tranquility and is also the best viewing area in the temple, is a must see. From it, you will enjoy a view of the city below and the colorful mountains.

Best time to see the foliage: Late October to early November
Entrance fee: 300 JPY/adult; 300 JPY/high school; 200 JPY/junior high school

1. Risshakuji (Yamadera)

4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata

2. Nishiazuma Sky Valley

This is a scenic road that spans 17.8km from Shirabu Onsen to the north shore of Lake Hibara in Fukushima. It is one of the Tohoku region's best places to see the foliage, and in the fall, you can enjoy colorful views of mountains, lakes, and waterfalls all along the road.
Don't miss the view from Nishikidaira, a viewing spot at Shirabu Pass on the border of Fukushima. You can see the beautiful scenery that looks like a brocade carpet of bright yellow Japanese beech trees and fiery red Japanese maple trees from a vantage point that is 1,800m in altitude. *Parts of the road may close during the winter (mid November to late April).

Best time to see the foliage: Early October to mid October

2. Nishiazuma Sky Valley

Shirabu-toge, Yonezawa-shi, Yamagata

3. Zao Echo Line (Yamagata Side)

Zao Echo Line is a scenic road between Kaminoyama in Yamagata and the town of Zao in Miyagi. The 26km road is surrounded by magnificent natural views, which you can enjoy while driving.
The Yamagata side is full of trees including many deciduous trees such as Japanese beech and Japanese white birch that grow on the mountainside. In the fall, the mountains are painted in bright colors so you can have your fill of the beautiful multi-colored scenery. *Parts of the road may be closed during the winter season (early November to late April).

Best time to see the foliage: Mid-September to mid-October

3. Zao Echo Line (Yamagata Side)

Zao Bodaira-kogen, Kaminoyama-shi, Yamagata

4. Mogami Gorge

This is a gorge that spans about 16km from Furukuchi to Kiyokawa which is about mid-stream on Mogami River that flows across the prefecture from south to north. There are 48 waterfalls on the mountains that rise up close to the river. The area is also known for the large Japanese cedar trees that are more than 500 years old.
In the fall, you can enjoy not just the beautiful scenery of the gorge, but also a fantastic view of the foliage reflecting on the river. If you take the boat ride down the river (1,500 JPY and up/adult; 800 JPY and up/child), you can enjoy the views at leisure from the water. There is a ride to see popular foliage spots and the Shiraito Falls (about 30 minutes), as well as a 12km course (about 60 minutes) to get your fill of the wonderful nature.

Best time to see the foliage: Late October to early November

4. Mogami Gorge

270 Oaza-Furukuchi, Tozawa-mura, Mogami-gun, Yamagata

5. Akashiba Gorge

Akashiba Gorge is an area with a stunning terrain along the beautiful Ara River that flows along Japan National Route 113. The Japanese beech, maple, Japanese maple, and Japanese sumac trees add fantastic fall colors to the steep cliffs on both sides of the river. It is famous as a place to enjoy the fall foliage where you can see the brightly colored trees together with a view of the gorge.
There is a path along the river that is about 1km one way and can be walked in about 30 minutes where you can get your fill of the beauty created by nature.

Best time to see the foliage: Late October - early November

5. Akashiba Gorge

719 Odo, Oguni-machi, Nishiokitama-gun, Yamagata

Nature-rich Yamagata is a great place to enjoy the beauty of Japan's seasons. Please visit during the foliage season to enjoy the multi-colored scenery.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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