A Day in Tsuruoka City
One of the Yamagata Prefecture's more laid back cities, Tsuruoka, is a little more humble in terms of population. In spite of this, Tsuruoka is Yamagata's biggest in terms of surface area, which means there's a lot of ground to cover when you're exploring the area. Located in the Shonai area, the city borders on the Sea of Japan and produces some of the best rice crops in the entire area, meaning that when you're visiting it's essentially a crime not to eat and drink your way around the city. Sake and rice are the area's two most famous exports so you're in for a real treat. The area is also home to the Dewa Sanzan, also known as The Three Mountains of Dewa. No matter what you like to do on your vacation there's always plenty of entertainment here in Tsuruoka City.
The best way to begin your day in the city is by gathering a little historical context on the area. During the Edo period (1603 - 1868) the town flourished as a city hub centered around the castle of the powerful Tokugawa family. If you head to the centre of the city, there you can explore many of the remaining buildings from the area including Chidokan, an Edo period school that was established by the Shonai Area Feudal Government.
Once you've spent some time wandering around it's time to head to the Tsuruoka Tourist Bureau, which is home to all the information and guidance you'll need when exploring the area. The office has an impressive collection of English maps that point out all of the city's main attractions in an easy to follow manner. Rent a bike from the tourist office and follow the maps to many of the city's main sightseeing spots. Where you go is really up to you, however be aware that bikes have to be returned by office closing time which is 5pm.
Jump on your bike and pedal over to Shonai Shrine, a historic local landmark blessed with natural beauty and a rich history. Surrounded by 200-year-old cherry trees, it’s said that the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi, once meditated under these trees. With beautiful coffered ceilings, which appear to transform depending on the angle you look at them from, the temple’s interior is just as beautiful as its exterior.
Time now to head over to the recently opened Shogin Tact Tsuruoka. This incredible new theatre is set to become one of the area’s most famous landmarks thanks to it impressive architectural design. Check the playing times as there’s a chance you may be able to catch a performance if you have time! Located well within traveling distance sits the the Tsuruoka Art Forum, a very unique space designed to provide a place for the free artistic expression of the citizens. Featuring an open gallery space and host to a number of cultural activities it’s a social and creative hotspot.
Now it's time to make your way to Tsuruoka Park. Along the way you'll come by Hie Shrine, a humble and quaint little shrine nestled in lush green parklands. Wander around for a bit then when you think you've seen enough it's onwards to the nest sightseeing hotspot, the Kazama Family Residence. For a 400-yen entry, this house is definitely worth exploring especially if you have an interest in the history of Yamagata Prefecture's social evolution. The house features impressive Meiji era architecture and a stunning little garden.
If you do have time up your sleeve it’s also worth adding a visit to the Tsuruoka Catholic Kyouka Church to your itinerary which stands as a very interesting contrast to the rest of the city’s more traditional Japanese shrines and temples. Once you’re hitting 5pm it’s time to head back to the tourist centre to drop off the bikes. Attached to the centre sits a food court serving local foods, so pick yourself up an appetizer before heading to dinner and sake tasting at Sake Bar Ayatsuru.
- Facility Name
- Yamagata Pref. Tsuruokashi Suehiromachi
- Information Sources:
- NAVITIME JAPAN
- Information Sources:
- NAVITIME JAPAN