A boisterous metropolitan city amongst a cascade of stoically tranquil mountains, as Yamagata Prefecture’s capital and largest city, Yamagata City is where urban vivacity meets natural splendor, and stories that transcend generations are born.

History of Tsuruoka

Archaeological evidence suggests that early peoples of Tohoku inhabited what is now modern day Yamagata City from as early as 12,000 BC and as a result, museums such as the Yamagata Prefectural Museum are rich with historical artifacts, relics, and treasures.

Throughout history, various groups and clans all clashed and calammored to lay claim to this pristine region flushed with lucrative resources and blessed with unrivaled natural beauty. It wasn’t until the Muromachi Period (1338-1573) however that Yamagata City solidified itself as a center for political power, when in 1356 the Shiba Clan established their base in present day Yamagata City and changed their name to Mogami.

Dubbing the city that would go on to become the capital of Yamagata “Mogami” as well, Kajo Castle (better known today as Yamagata Castle) was erected in 1357 and for the next 275 years, the Mogami ruled as the feudal lords of the Yamagata Domain. The castle was reconstructed and fortified again in 159 by a man named Yoshiaki Mogami, thus strengthening the political position of the Mogami Clan even more and thus expanding the sphere of the Yamagata Domain’s influence even further.

Today, you can learn more about the Mogami and history of Yamagata City at the Mogami Yoshiaki Historical Museum located on the remaining grounds of where the original castle was built.

Things to do in Tsuruoka

Mount Haguro

An esoteric mountain, laced with an ancient complex of temples. Just 20 minutes form Yamagata City Center and easily accessible by train, Yamadera cannot be missed!

Kamo Aquarium

The former prefectural capital of Yamagata, the Bunshokan is an impressive display of Meiji  architecture and a testament to the Western influence of modernization that swept across Japan during this period.

Mount Gassan

Yamagata’s very own street food district! Come drink with locals, try famous dishes, and enjoy the vibrant night life of Yamagata’s largest city!

Mount Yudono

Where Yamagata Castle once stood, today, Kajo park is at the very heart of the city and many of the original castle walls and gates still remain. In the spring, people travel from all over just to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom