In Search of Tohoku's Japan Sea Scenery Yamagata Shonai and Akita:
Enjoy nature at Mount Haguro
and Mount Chokai

A refreshing road trip to enjoy the beautiful Japan Sea and the Shonai regions, packed with nature and culture

Yamagata Shonai and Akita possess a unique culture, shaped by the sea and the mountains. The spiritual culture found in the Three Mountains of Dewa, surrounded by nature, is familiar to many people in Japan. From Yunohama Onsen to the Sankyo Soko Rice Storehouses, on this road trip you can experience for yourself the nature and deep-rooted culture of this region.

(map) Yamagata, Akita Yamagata Akita

Three Mountains of Dewa (Dewa Sanzan)

Mount Haguro, Mount Gassan, and Mount Yudono are known collectively as the Three Mountains of Dewa, and are visited by many people as a sacred place of the Shugendo religion. It is said that a tour of these three mountains is a "life-changing trip". You can also find the highest number of "Sokushinbutsu" in Japan. These are a kind of Buddhist mummy, formed from ascetic monks who, in order to become Buddhas, entered ancient stone chambers in the ground while still alive and were mummified.

Kamo Aquarium

This aquarium possesses the highest number of jellyfish species of any aquarium in the world, and you can enjoy the sight of over 60 species of jellyfish floating in the water. The highlight is a giant circular water tank, five meters in diameter and containing 40 tonnes of water, in which 10,000 moon jellyfish float around.

Yunohama Onsen

In this hot spring area on the Japan Sea coast, gaze at the waves while staying in a traditional Japanese inn. There is also Tsuruoka City, with its onsen towns of Atsumi, Yutagawa, and Yura, the SUIDEN TERRASSE, and a wide variety of places to stay.


This former Ryotei (high-class restaurant) in the once-thriving trading port town of Sakata is now a tourist attraction where you can enjoy maiko's dance performance. In the Sanno Club, also a former Ryotei, you can view an exhibition of "Kasafuku," umbrellas decorated to pray for the happiness of one's family or the healthy growth of one's children.

Sankyo Soko Rice Storehouses

These rice storehouses are situated in the once-thriving port of Sakata. They are still in use today, but a part of the storehouses is now a museum of rice. There is also a souvenir shop where you can purchase local Sakata products. In addition, you can view the beautiful sunset over the Japan Sea from the Hiyoriyama Park next door.

Roadside Station Chokai Furatto

In this roadside station in Yuza town you can buy a wide variety of seasonal fish and shellfish, including Iwagaki oysters, and even eat them on the premises. You can also find an abundance of agricultural produce throughout the Shonai region, including fruits such as pears and melons, and dadacha beans.

Mototaki Underflow and Mount Chokai

Towering over the boundary between Yamagata and Akita Prefectures, this mountain is 2,236 meters in height. It is famous for its similarity in shape to Mount Fuji, and is therefore known as the "Dewa Fuji." In summer you can enjoy mountain walks against a backdrop of alpine flora, and on the lower slopes of the mountain you can enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls and ponds, filled with an abundance of spring water.

Itinerary Map

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  • Approx. 40 minutes by car
  • 1 Approx. 40 minutes by car
  • 2 Approx. 15 minutes by car
  • 3 Approx. 30 minutes by car
  • 4 Approx. 10 minutes by car
  • 5 Approx. 30 minutes by car
  • 6 Approx. 30 minutes by car
  • 7 Approx. 1 hour 10 minutes by car
  • Please refer to the travel time as a guide

How to Get There

A flight from Haneda Airport to Shonai Airport takes approximately 1 hour. It is convenient to rent a car from Shonai Airport. There are four car rental firms operating in the vicinity of Shonai airport.

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