Kaminoyama (Yamagata Prefecture)

After spending my afternoon in Yamagata City in the beautiful Kajou Park I went for a short side trip later that day to Kaminoyama.
It only takes a bit more than 10 minutes by local train to go from JR Yamagata Station to Kaminoyama-Onsen Station with the “JR Ou Line”.

Visited: April 29th 2012

Yamagata Prefecture beautiful landscape

Although it’s just a 10-minute train ride the landscape you get to see is breathtaking! I can’t say often enough how beautiful Tohoku is!


Exploring Kaminoyama

Kaminoyama is famous for onsen, so you’ll run into hot springs for your feet (“ashi-yu”).
The good thing about walking to a tourist attraction is that you’ll discover so many other tiny, but interesting things that you won’t find in any tourist guide book!

Kaminoyama Onsen Kaminoyama

Kaminoyama is a fairly small town, so I suggest just walking around for a while if you have time to and enjoy the atmosphere!


Kaminoyama Castle

Kaminoyama Castle

Kaminoyama Castle is quite close to the station, so you can pleasantly walk there in about 15 minutes.

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

As with many castles, esp. during high season, you could find some people dressed up as samurai. You can rent these costumes and take nice photos with the castle in the background.
Speaking of which .. I just noticed that I’ve never done it myself. It’s about time I try! *g*

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

Kaminoyama Castle had some nice exhibitions, but not too much about the castle or the history of it, but more about the nearby Mt. Zao and other locations of interest nearby.

I was surprised that besides all the Japanese explanations they had German ones as well. No English, only German!
Before leaving I asked the staff about it and apparently Kaminoyama has a German “sister city” and recently some visitors came and that’s why they put it up.
Well, I surely enjoyed being able to read explanations in my mother tongue for a change! :D

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

From the top floor you had a very nice view, overlooking Kaminoyama.

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

All the pink-ish cherry blossom trees, the green of the other trees and the blue of the mountains in the background make up a beautiful landscape scenery.

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

Cherry blossom trees in full bloom together with castles are my favorite photo motif!

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

Around Kaminoyama Castle you’ll find a beautiful garden.
If you walk from the castle keep to the garden, you’ll come across another hot spring for your feet from where you can enjoy the view of the castle and the garden at the same time (not pictured in the photo).

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

As it was spring, it was quite colorful. I guess in winter it’s rather boring unless it’s all snow-covered.

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

The garden wasn’t too big, but had to offer a lot. There was also a small pond.

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

For me the pond was the best spot to take a photo of the castle with the garden in the foreground.

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

The castle is on a small hill, so even if you’re not on the top floor of the main keep, you’ll have quite a nice view!

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

You can also walk up and go “behind” Kaminoyama Castle.

Kaminoyama Castle in Yamagata

First of all you’ll get another nice view of the castle, but …

Kaminoyama Shrine Ema

… there’s also a little shrine there. Displayed in the photo are the ema of that shrine.


And then it was time to leave the castle.
I still had some time before it would get dark, so I walked around some more.


Shooting location of the movie departures, Okuribito, in Kaminoyama

Shooting Location of “Departures (Okuribito)”

They had some tourist information guide maps (with English!) on them at several spots of the town.
I found out that there was a shooting location of the movie “Departures (Okuribito)” – a Japanese movie that I wanted to watch for a long time, but still haven’t yet.

Shooting location of the movie Depatures, Okuribito, in Kaminoyama

It wasn’t difficult to find the location. They also put up information boards and photos of some movie scenes that were taken there.

Shooting location of the movie Depatures, Okuribito, in Kaminoyama

As I haven’t seen the movie yet, I had a big question mark above my head and just took a photo of the building that apparently appeared in the movie. I guess people who’ve seen the movie want to hit me know, but I promise I’ll watch it as soon as I have some time!! ^-^;;

Kaminoyama-Onsen JR Station

Back at Kaminoyama-Onsen Station from where I went back to Yamagata City to have dinner and then took the night photos of the lit-up castle and cherry blossoms that I posted in my previous entry.

As you can see I did quite a lot on the first day of my Golden Week Vacation although my day started around noon.
I didn’t have to rush, so you could easily do the same as well! smilie


  • I love those shidare sakura trees with the hanging branches. Sadly mine died last winter due to the cold. The picture with the garden and the sakura trees in front of the castle :heart:

    The movie is excellent. You should really watch it when you get the chance!

  • Those photos are gorgeous!! It’s quite true that the castle and cherry blossom motif is almost guaranteed beautiful results :sparkling:
    I also think you should take photos with the costumed employees..! That sounds like fun :D
    I noticed that you don’t visit any of the onsen (at least not in the posts I’ve read so far), was there just no time? Or you don’t really like onsen? I’m just curious because I’m always dragged into an onsen whenever I visit a new city. I feel like it’s an odd rite of passage lol

    • You got that right! “Almost” guaranteed. Later on you’ll see that a typhoon and lots of rain can spoil the fun! :/

      Oh, I’ve been to quite a few onsen.
      This time I simply couldn’t squeeze an onsen visit into my tight schedule.
      I just went to a pretty awesome onsen 3 weeks ago! I especially love the outside ones (rotenburo, 露天風呂)! :happy:

  • As usual, I enjoyed your pictures. Indeed the sakura enhance the castle. I was lucky enough to see Matsumoto and Himeiji that way.

    You must see Departures, it is a really good movie. Motoki and Hirosue Ryoko do an excellent job.

    • I saw lots of castles during cherry blossom season, but never one of the “big ones”.
      I was lucky to see Himeji castle with cherry blossoms all over the place this year, but as you probably know it’s still under reconstruction. Yet it was beautiful!

      Can’t wait to watch it! :D

  • The Tohoku region is so beautiful and its thanks to posts like this more and more people will hopefully return to this area in Japan. This place has three of the things I love most about Japan – a castle, cherry blossoms and onsen :)

    • I REALLY hope so!!
      Thanks so much!
      And I totally agree with the three things you love the most about Japan! ^-^ (though sometimes it’s hard to choose as there are so many great things! :music2: )

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