Yamagata Prefecture (山形県, Yamagata-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tōhoku region of Honshu.[2] Yamagata Prefecture has a population of 1,028,055 (1 August 2023) and has a geographic area of 9,325 km² (3,600 sq mi). Yamagata Prefecture borders Akita Prefecture to the north, Miyagi Prefecture to the east, Fukushima Prefecture to the south, and Niigata Prefecture to the southwest.

Yamagata Prefecture
山形県
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese山形県
 • RōmajiYamagata-ken
Flag of Yamagata Prefecture
Official logo of Yamagata Prefecture
Anthem: Mogami gawa
Location of Yamagata Prefecture
CountryJapan
RegionTōhoku
IslandHonshu
CapitalYamagata
SubdivisionsDistricts: 8, Municipalities: 35
Government
 • GovernorMieko Yoshimura
Area
 • Total9,325.15 km2 (3,600.46 sq mi)
 • Rank9th
Population
 (August 1, 2023)
 • Total1,028,055
 • Rank35th
 • Density110/km2 (290/sq mi)
 • Dialects
Nairiku・Shōnai
GDP
 • TotalJP¥ 4,337 billion
US$ 39.8 billion (2019)
ISO 3166 codeJP-06
Websitewww.pref.yamagata.jp
Symbols of Japan
BirdMandarin duck (Aix galericulata)
FishCherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou)
FlowerSafflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
TreeCherry

Yamagata is the capital and largest city of Yamagata Prefecture, with other major cities including Tsuruoka, Sakata, and Yonezawa.[3] Yamagata Prefecture is located on Japan's western Sea of Japan coast and its borders with neighboring prefectures are formed by various mountain ranges, with 17% of its total land area being designated as Natural Parks. Yamagata Prefecture formed the southern half of the historic Dewa Province with Akita Prefecture and is home to the Three Mountains of Dewa, which includes the Haguro Five-story Pagoda, a recognised National Treasure of Japan.

History edit

 
Sankyo Warehouse in Sakata City, related to Kitamaebune and transport on Mogami River.

The aboriginal Ezo (蝦夷) people once inhabited the area now known as Yamagata. Yamagata and Akita Prefecture were known as Dewa Province until the Meiji Restoration.[4]

During the Heian period (794–1185), the Fujiwara (藤原) family ruled the area. Yamagata City flourished during the Edo period (1603–1867) due to its status as a castle town and post station, famous for beni (red safflower dye used in the production of handspun silk). In 1689, the famous haiku poet, Matsuo Bashō visited Yamagata during his five-month trip to the northern regions of Japan.

Geography edit

 
Map of Yamagata Prefecture

Yamagata Prefecture is located in the southwest corner of Tōhoku, facing the Sea of Japan. It borders Niigata Prefecture and Fukushima Prefecture on the south, Miyagi Prefecture on the east, and Akita Prefecture on the north. All of these boundaries are marked by mountains, with most of the population residing in a limited central plain.

As of 31 March 2020, 17 percent of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely the Bandai-Asahi National Park; Chōkai, Kurikoma, and Zaō Quasi-National Parks; and Goshōzan, Kabusan, Kennan, Mogamigawa, Shōnai Kaihin, and Tendō Kōgen Prefectural Natural Parks.[5]

Cities edit

Thirteen cities are located in Yamagata Prefecture:

Name Area (km2) Population Population density (per km2) Map
Rōmaji Kanji
  Higashine 東根市 207.17 47,910 231.26  
  Kaminoyama 上山市 240.93 29,974 124.41  
  Murayama 村山市 196.98 23,643 120.03  
  Nagai 長井市 214.67 26,466 123.29  
  Nan'yō 南陽市 160.52 31,112 193.82  
  Obanazawa 尾花沢市 373.32 15,237 40.81  
  Sagae 寒河江市 139.03 40,131 288.65  
  Sakata 酒田市 602.97 99,341 164.75  
  Shinjō 新庄市 223.08 34,937 156.61  
  Tendō 天童市 113.01 61,947 548.16  
  Tsuruoka 鶴岡市 1,311.53 125,389 95.61  
  Yamagata (capital) 山形市 381.58 248,772 651.95  
  Yonezawa 米沢市 548.51 81,707 148.96  

Towns and villages edit

These are the towns and villages in each district:

Name Area (km2) Population Population density (per km2) District Type Map
Rōmaji Kanji
  Asahi 朝日町 196.73 7,020 35.68 Nishimurayama District Town  
  Funagata 舟形町 119.03 5,101 42.85 Mogami District Town  
  Iide 飯豊町 329.6 6,970 21.14 Nishiokitama District Town  
  Kahoku 河北町 52.38 18,301 349.39 Nishimurayama District Town  
  Kaneyama 金山町 161.79 5,205 32.17 Mogami District Town  
  Kawanishi 川西町 166.46 14,967 89.91 Higashiokitama District Town  
  Mamurogawa 真室川町 374.29 7,506 20.05 Mogami District Town  
  Mikawa 三川町 33.22 7,562 227.63 Higashitagawa District Town  
  Mogami 最上町 330.27 8,442 25.56 Mogami District Town  
  Nakayama 中山町 31.23 11,153 357.12 Higashimurayama District Town  
  Nishikawa 西川町 393.19 5,225 13.29 Nishimurayama District Town  
  Ōe 大江町 153.92 7,894 51.29 Nishimurayama District Town  
  Oguni 小国町 737.56 7,376 10.00 Nishiokitama District Town  
  Ōishida 大石田町 79.54 6,945 87.31 Kitamurayama District Town  
  Ōkura 大蔵村 211.59 3,044 14.39 Mogami District Village  
  Sakegawa 鮭川村 122.14 4,132 33.83 Mogami District Village  
  Shirataka 白鷹町 157.74 13,482 85.47 Nishiokitama District Town  
  Shōnai 庄内町 249.17 20,940 84.04 Higashitagawa District Town  
  Takahata 高畠町 180.26 23,367 129.63 Higashiokitama District Town  
  Tozawa 戸沢村 261.31 4,431 16.96 Mogami District Village  
  Yamanobe 山辺町 61.36 14,147 230.56 Higashimurayama District Town  
  Yuza 遊佐町 208.39 13,615 65.33 Akumi District Town  

Mergers edit

Climate edit

The climate of Yamagata Prefecture is characterized by long, hot, and humid summers and long, snowy winters. Both spring and autumn are short, the former often cold, the latter often warm, but both quite dry and sunny. Yamagata Prefecture, along with northern parts of Miyagi and Iwate are the transition areas from humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa/Cwa) to humid continental within the Japan mainland. Winter temperatures rarely fall below −10 °C (14 °F) in populated areas; they frequently rise above 30 °C (86 °F) in July and August. Precipitation falls all year round and the remnants of one or perhaps two typhoons usually pass through between August and October. The winters see heavy snowfall especially at higher elevations, though the Japan Sea coast (Sakata) is milder and has more rain. Snowfall for Shinjō is typical of populated mountainous areas, snowfall for Yamagata City typical of the valleys. The central mountains around Gassan may see as much as 3,000 centimetres (98.43 ft) of snow in a season with depths up to 8 metres (26 ft) at higher elevations.

Climate data for Yamagata, Yamagata
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.1
(64.6)
17.3
(63.1)
23.7
(74.7)
33.3
(91.9)
33.4
(92.1)
35.6
(96.1)
40.8
(105.4)
38.9
(102.0)
36.1
(97.0)
32.3
(90.1)
26.9
(80.4)
20.1
(68.2)
40.8
(105.4)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 3
(37)
4
(39)
8
(46)
16
(61)
22
(72)
25
(77)
28
(82)
30
(86)
25
(77)
19
(66)
12
(54)
6
(43)
16
(61)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −4
(25)
−4
(25)
−1
(30)
4
(39)
10
(50)
15
(59)
19
(66)
20
(68)
16
(61)
9
(48)
3
(37)
−1
(30)
7
(45)
Record low °C (°F) −20.0
(−4.0)
−19.0
(−2.2)
−15.5
(4.1)
−7.3
(18.9)
−1.8
(28.8)
3.0
(37.4)
6.7
(44.1)
8.4
(47.1)
3.0
(37.4)
−2.4
(27.7)
−7.2
(19.0)
−15.0
(5.0)
−20.0
(−4.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 75
(3.0)
70
(2.8)
67
(2.6)
68
(2.7)
81
(3.2)
103
(4.1)
144
(5.7)
149
(5.9)
134
(5.3)
76
(3.0)
81
(3.2)
77
(3.0)
1,125
(44.3)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 163
(64)
147
(58)
71
(28)
3
(1.2)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
12
(4.7)
92
(36)
491
(193)
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency[6]
Climate data for Shinjō, Yamagata
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.3
(55.9)
14.0
(57.2)
19.5
(67.1)
30.2
(86.4)
33.5
(92.3)
32.6
(90.7)
36.9
(98.4)
37.4
(99.3)
33.9
(93.0)
27.9
(82.2)
22.5
(72.5)
19.0
(66.2)
37.4
(99.3)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 1
(34)
2
(36)
6
(43)
14
(57)
20
(68)
24
(75)
27
(81)
29
(84)
24
(75)
18
(64)
11
(52)
4
(39)
15
(59)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −4
(25)
−4
(25)
−2
(28)
3
(37)
9
(48)
14
(57)
19
(66)
20
(68)
15
(59)
8
(46)
3
(37)
−1
(30)
7
(45)
Record low °C (°F) −19.6
(−3.3)
−20.2
(−4.4)
−16.5
(2.3)
−9.3
(15.3)
−2.1
(28.2)
3.7
(38.7)
7.6
(45.7)
10.9
(51.6)
4.1
(39.4)
−0.8
(30.6)
−5.8
(21.6)
−15.2
(4.6)
−20.2
(−4.4)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 181
(7.1)
145
(5.7)
112
(4.4)
98
(3.9)
107
(4.2)
131
(5.2)
186
(7.3)
175
(6.9)
153
(6.0)
152
(6.0)
195
(7.7)
211
(8.3)
1,843
(72.6)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 283
(111)
242
(95)
134
(53)
20
(7.9)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
28
(11)
168
(66)
878
(346)
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency[7]
Climate data for Sakata, Yamagata
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.5
(59.9)
21.6
(70.9)
22.6
(72.7)
28.6
(83.5)
31.3
(88.3)
31.8
(89.2)
36.9
(98.4)
40.1
(104.2)
35.1
(95.2)
30.9
(87.6)
24.2
(75.6)
19.0
(66.2)
40.1
(104.2)
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 4
(39)
4
(39)
8
(46)
14
(57)
19
(66)
23
(73)
27
(81)
29
(84)
25
(77)
19
(66)
13
(55)
8
(46)
16
(61)
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −1
(30)
−2
(28)
1
(34)
5
(41)
11
(52)
16
(61)
20
(68)
21
(70)
17
(63)
10
(50)
5
(41)
1
(34)
9
(48)
Record low °C (°F) −16.9
(1.6)
−12.8
(9.0)
−9.9
(14.2)
−3.7
(25.3)
−0.2
(31.6)
7.5
(45.5)
9.5
(49.1)
13.2
(55.8)
7.0
(44.6)
1.4
(34.5)
−5.1
(22.8)
−12.5
(9.5)
−16.9
(1.6)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 153
(6.0)
115
(4.5)
104
(4.1)
106
(4.2)
117
(4.6)
128
(5.0)
186
(7.3)
176
(6.9)
185
(7.3)
174
(6.9)
224
(8.8)
202
(8.0)
1,861
(73.3)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 138
(54)
120
(47)
43
(17)
1
(0.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
10
(3.9)
64
(25)
375
(148)
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency[8]

Economy edit

Fruit edit

 
Persimmons in October, Yamagata Prefecture.
 
Yamagata cherries, such as these, often sell for US$30 per pound or more.

Yamagata Prefecture is the largest producer of cherries and pears in Japan. A large quantity of other kinds of fruits such as grapes, apples, peaches, melons, persimmons and watermelons are also produced.

Demographics edit

 
Yamagata prefecture population pyramid in 2020

As of October 2020, Yamagata Prefecture had a population of 1,068,027.[9] As of October 2019, 33.4% of the population was over 65 with 15.5% aged between 65 and 74 and 17.9% over 75.[10] This is an increase of 8.5% over census data from 2004 where 12.8% of the population was aged between 65 and 74, and 12.1% was over 75.[11]

Yamagata prefecture experienced its greatest growth period following the end of World War II, but then quickly began to slow down and eventually decline steadily.[12] Today, the population is nearly the same as it was in 1930.

Historical population
YearPop.±%
1890 742,600—    
1920 969,000+30.5%
1930 1,080,000+11.5%
1940 1,119,000+3.6%
1950 1,357,347+21.3%
1960 1,321,000−2.7%
1970 1,226,000−7.2%
1980 1,252,000+2.1%
1990 1,258,000+0.5%
2000 1,244,147−1.1%
2010 1,168,924−6.0%
2020 1,068,027−8.6%

City life edit

Yamagata City is the central hub for Yamagata Prefecture and has many shops and restaurants around its main station. It is also the location with the most western hotels and the primary place of lodging for visitors visiting this region. This city serves as a good hub to visit the surrounding cities and towns around this prefecture with bus lines and train lines linking almost every part of Yamagata from the station.

There are also many bars near the station giving this city a good night life for visitors to enjoy at the front of the station as well as the nanukamachi district in the downtown area of the city. [13]

Festivals and events edit

Yamagata Prefecture has a number of annual festivals and events.

The largest is the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival (花笠祭り) which takes place in Yamagata City on the first weekend in August, when thousands of people perform the hanagasa dance in the city centre and attracts up to 300,000 spectators. Yamagata City is the home of the bi-annual Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in October.

In February, a snow lantern festival is held in Yonezawa at the Uesugi Shrine. Hundreds of candle-lit lanterns light pathways dug into the snow around the shrine. Yonezawa is also the site of the Uesugi Festival (上杉祭り, uesugi matsuri) in mid-spring. The festival's highlight is a re-enactment of the Battle of Kawanakajima on the banks of the Matsukawa River.

In September, Yamagata Prefecture is famous for its imoni, a taro-root stew popular in Northern Japan during the autumn. Imonikai, taro-root soup parties, are very popular during this season, and many tourists come to Yamagata Prefecture specifically for its particular style of imoni.

Art edit

Beginning in 2003, Yamagata city officials with the aid of Tōhoku University of Art and Design began a three-year project in which the Buddhist art of the city's temples would be catalogued and compared to a set of guidelines in order to identify "cultural assets".[14] One hundred and ninety temples have had their works of art examined and several significant examples of Buddhist sculpture have been discovered. At Heisenji Temple, in the Hirashimizu district, a particularly rare statue, a seated Vairocana Buddha made from zelkova wood, was found. Other significant works include sculptures from the Heian period (794–1185) and Kamakura period (1192–1333).

The Yamagata Museum of Art, located in Yamagata City, was opened in 1964 through the efforts of a foundation led by Yoshio Hattori, the president of Yamagata Shimbun and Yamagata Broadcasting Co, Ltd. The permanent collection consists of three types of art: Japanese and Asian, regional, and French. Special exhibitions are held periodically.

Language edit

Yamagata Prefecture is known for its local dialect Yamagata-ben, sometimes thought of as backward sounding in other parts of Japan. The 2004 movie Swing Girls (スウィングガールズ), co-written and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, is set in Yamagata and makes use of Yamagata-ben for comedic purposes.

Sports edit

 
ND Soft Stadium Yamagata, home of Montedio Yamagata.

The sports teams listed below are based in Yamagata.

Football

Volleyball

Basketball

Transportation edit

Airports edit

Railways edit

Tourism edit

The temple of Yama-dera, carved into the mountainside near the city of Yamagata, is a major attraction.

The Dewa Sanzan are three holy mountains that form a traditional pilgrimage for followers of the Shugendō branch of Shintō. The famous Gojudo (five-story pagoda) is at the base of Mount Haguro, the lowest of the three mountains.

Mount Zaō is a famous winter ski resort, also known for its snow monsters (frozen snow-covered trees) in the winter, and the Okama crater lake, also known as the Goshiki Numa (Five Color Lake) because its colour changes according to the weather.

Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉) is a Silver Mountain hot spring town located in the mountains of Obanazawa City, Yamagata Prefecture. The area originally developed around a silver mine. However, these days it is better known as one of Japan’s prettiest onsen towns with historic ryokan alongside river.[15]

Media edit

Newspapers edit

  • Yamagata Shimbun [1]
  • Yonezawa Shimbun
  • Shonai Nippo
  • Okitama Times [2]

TV and radio edit

Film edit

  • Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival[16]

Yamagata is pictured in the 1991 Studio Ghibli film Only Yesterday directed by Isao Takahata.

Notes edit

  1. ^ "2020年度国民経済計算(2015年基準・2008SNA) : 経済社会総合研究所 - 内閣府". 内閣府ホームページ (in Japanese). Retrieved 2023-05-18.
  2. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Yamagata prefecture" in Japan Encyclopedia, pp. 1038-1039, p. 1038, at Google Books; "Tōhoku" in p. 970, p. 970, at Google Books
  3. ^ Nussbaum, "Yamagata" in p. 1038, p. 1038, at Google Books
  4. ^ Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" in p. 780, p. 780, at Google Books
  5. ^ 自然公園都道府県別面積総括 [General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture] (PDF) (in Japanese). Ministry of the Environment. 31 March 2020. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  6. ^ Yamagata Station, Japan Meteorological Agency
  7. ^ Shinjo Station, Japan Meteorological Agency
  8. ^ Sakata Station, Japan Meteorological Agency
  9. ^ "Yamagata (Japan): Prefecture, Cities, Towns and Villages - Population Statistics, Charts and Map". www.citypopulation.de. Retrieved 2021-12-24.
  10. ^ "Current Population Estimates as of October 1, 2019". October 1, 2019.
  11. ^ "2004np". Archived from the original (xls) on 20 May 2005. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  12. ^ "Statistics Bureau of Japan". October 1, 2020.
  13. ^ "Yamagata City". 9 May 2022.
  14. ^ "Yamagata: City unearths wealth of Buddhist Treasure". The Asahi Shimbun. December 5, 2006.[dead link]
  15. ^ "Ginzan Onsen". RGWords Travel & Photography Blog. 2021-02-21. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  16. ^ "YIDFF Official Site". Yidff.jp. Retrieved 2014-02-14.

References edit

External links edit

38°26′N 140°8′E / 38.433°N 140.133°E / 38.433; 140.133