Mogami Boats

Mogami Region

Map of Mogami
Yamagata Prefecture

Mogami Region

The Mogami Region of Yamagata Prefecture is a land so beautiful that since days long ago, stories and folklore have blossomed here like sakura blossoms in the spring.

Surrounded by steep mountains on all sides, the Mogami Region is as proud of its history as it is of its pristine nature.  Splendid onsen hot spring towns such as Semi Onsen and Hijiori Onsen boast histories of over 1,200 years, and one of Japan’s oldest and most archeologically important national treasures, the Jomon Goddess, has been unearthed here.

Virgin forests bless the Mogami Region, and foods not to miss are soba, Mogami beef, and chicken motsu ramen.

Cities in the Mogami Region
Shinjo Festival


In ancient times, Shinjo was a transportation hub for people all over Japan. As travelers gathered in the northern Yamagata town, stories began to flow, giving Shinjo a rich history of local folklore.

From this folklore, the Shinjo Festival, one of Yamagata’s largest festivals, was born! Massive floats depicting legendary scenes from Shinjo’s traditional stories are paraded throughout the town with over 300 food stands. Shinjo is also the end of the Yamagata Shinkansen line, making it very accessible from Yamagata City, or Fukushima.

Genso no Mori


Entrenched in the Mogami Gorge, the peaceful town of Tozawa sits quaintly along the Mogami River.

Tozawa is most popular for visitors who are looking to ride one of the famous Mogami Boats, where you can float down the river while listening to traditional folk songs. Known as the “village of big trees,” Tozawa’s forests, such as Genso no Mori make for excellent escapes to go out in nature and try forest bathing. Michi no Eki Tozawa is another interesting stop, as all of the architecture and products sold are Korean.

Hijiori Onsen


For onsen lovers, Hijiori Onsen is a must-visit, as time stands still in this traditional hot spring town.

The charm of Hijiori Onsen lies in its simplicity. While other popular hot spring towns, such as Ginzan Onsen and Zao Onsen, make active efforts to promote their locales, Hijiori Onsen and Okura take a more laid-back approach, preferring to rely on the continued unwavering support of local people, making it a hidden gem with an air of local authenticity. This sense of community is exemplified in the morning markets held in the warmer months, where seasonal specialties and local handicrafts like Kakeshi dolls are sold by local artisans. 

Yamagata Totoro Tree


Sakegawa directly translates to “salmon river” and is the only town in all of japan that uses the Japanese character for salmon,「鮭」(sake), in their town name.

Salmon is a way of life here in Sakegawa, as the fishing, processing, and enjoyment of Sakegawa’s most cherished resource is not something that locals take lightly. Sakegawa’s incredible wetlands are home to many rare plants and animals, and many find Sakegawa a place of concentrated spiritual energy. One such place that makes visiting Sakegawa worth the visit is the famous Totoro Tree which closely resembles the titular character from Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film.

Mogami Cherry blossoms


Named after the river with the same name, the town of Mogami is a pleasant place to relax in nature and take a long soak in a hot spring bath.

Semi Onsen is the most well-known hot spring in Mogami, and with good reason. It is said that Semi Onsen was established when a wandering monk split a rock with a long sword, and hot, healing waters came rushing out. In relation to Mt. Kamewari nearby, the town is a spiritual center for prayers related to safe childbirth. The famous samurai and military commander, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, also fled through this area while escaping rival forces.

Yamagata Monkey


Described by British explorer Isabella Bird as a “singular basin of great beauty,” Kaneyama sits along the pyramid Kamuro Mountain Ridge that makes the northern border before Yamagata and Akita Prefectures.

Historically, Kaneyama was an important post town located along the Ushu Kaido Route and therefore saw a heavy amount of foot traffic. Today, the population of Kaneyama is just 5,000 people, however, many people find this to be advantageous to Kaneyama as it makes for an ideal hiking spot. Some local specialties include chives, burdock root, and maple, all of which can be found naturally and then turned into delicious cuisine that you won’t find anywhere else! 

Mamorugawa plum blossoms


Mamurogawa is known as the “Plum Town” of Yamagata and sees the most visitors in the spring, just in time for its annual plum blossom festival held around Golden Week.

While just 7,000 or so people are lucky enough to call Mamurogawa home, communal values of unity and harmony run deep in the minds and hearts of the residents, and much traditional culture and local history is carefully preserved. As a quiet, rural town, Mamurogawa is overflowing with nature, and it is not uncommon to see wildlife such as deer, monkeys, serow, or even bears here.

Kaneyama, Yamgata


During the Edo period, Funabata developed as an inn town along the Ushu Kaido as it was conveniently located along the crossroads of the Sendai Clan to the east and the Shonai Domain to the west. 

Due to the pristine nature and abundance of rivers, Funagata is a great place for fishing and mushroom picking. While currently housed at the Yamagata Prefectural Museum, one of Japan’s national treasures, the Jomon Goddess, was unearthed here in Funagata and is one of the largest and oldest clay figures to have ever been discovered in japan. The Jomon Goddess has also been exhibited in museums all over the world.