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Friday, 7th September 2012
In Japan Travel News,

What to expect on a visit to Yamagata

Yamagata prefecture is a great option for visitors to Japan considering its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural features.

The region is awash with more than 100 hot springs, with the Mogami River running into the Sea of Japan, making its route across the Shonai Plain.

It also boasts traditional arts and crafts exhibitions, historical temples and shrines, as well as a broad range of events and festivals to keep visitors more than amused.

Events worth taking into account include human chess, or Ningen Shogi, which takes place in Tendo City, as well as the Flower-Adorned Hat Festival in Yamagata City, otherwise known as Hanagasa-matsuri Festival.

Popular foods in the region include a delicious mix of fruit like cherries, grapes and Shonai persimmons, alongside traditional dishes made with soba noodles and rice.

At the heart of the region is Yamagata City, which is the proud home to the 1,100-year-old mountain temple of Risshakuji.

This 15th century former castle town is singled out for its beautiful cherry blossoms against the backdrop of stone walls and moats, which illustrate its vibrant past.

It is not only this great history that visitors can look forward to, as the Yamagata prefecture recently demonstrated its quirkiness with a giant helping of stew.

Last Sunday (September 2nd), thousands of people arrived to sample the incredible "imoni" dish that provided enough food for 30,000 plates, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

Chefs worked hard to prepare the traditional meal that included 1.2 tonnes of beef and three tonnes of "satoimo" potatoes.

The ingredients also comprised 3,500 pieces of "konnyaku" - a vegetable jelly that was first introduced in Japan 1,500 years ago for its health benefits.

The stew was of such epic proportions that forklifts were enlisted to dish it out from the six metre-wide bowl.

Residing just two hours and 30 minutes outside of Tokyo, there is little excuse for passing up a visit to this wonderful region.

Posted by Susan Ballion