Yamaguchi Japan – Nestled snuggly between Hiroshima, Shimane, and Fukuoka Prefectures is the sizable prefecture of Yamaguchi. Almost one-tenth of the land is designated as Natural Parks, giving visitors ample opportunities to view authentic Japanese nature. The local dish of choice is Kawara Soba, or ‘hot tile noodles’. The tradition of cooking on hot tiles stems from the Seinan Rebellion of 1877, and the food has remained a Yamaguchi staple ever since.
Along with the beautiful sights and delicious food, there are many festivals that take place in Yamaguchi throughout the year. Those traveling through the area in April, August, November, July, or May just might be lucky enough to watch or participate in the festivities. Thankfully, the prefecture has an extensive rail and ferry system to get people where they need to go in a timely and efficient manner.
For everything you need to know about your upcoming trip to Yamaguchi Japan, read on to learn about the best places to stay and attractions to visit.
How to get there?
There are a few options for getting to Yamaguchi from Tokyo. If you’re looking forward to a relaxing train ride, you can take the Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen towards Hakata from Tokyo Station until you reach the Shin Yamaguchi Station. Using the Yamaguchi Line towards Yamaguchi, you’ll reach Yamaguchi Station in less than thirty minutes. The entire trip takes roughly five hours depending on train schedules.
There’s also the option to fly from Haneda Airport to Yamaguchi Ube Airport, which only takes about an hour and a half. Highway buses and night buses are also an option, though it takes over 12 hours to complete the trip. Renting a car would cut the trip down to 11.5 hours depending on traffic, though it’s recommended to travel with someone to take turns driving the 933 kilometer distance.
Once again, the Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen heading towards Hakata comes into play, and can be used from Shin Osaka Station to Shin Yamaguchi station. The journey is only about two hours long, and riding by train is both comfortable and relaxing. Several highway and night buses can also be used, and generally take up to eight hours to reach Yamaguchi. There’s also the option to drive the 462 kilometer journey, which only takes about five hours. There are no direct flights from Osaka to Yamaguchi.
Where to stay?
Guesthouse Yamaguchi Japan – Yamaguchi Koukasha
Only 7 kilometers away from central Yamaguchi, this lovely guesthouse features beautiful sights both on the property and in the surrounding areas. The foliage is especially beautiful during the spring and summer seasons, as most of the flowering trees are in bloom. Rooms are spacious and well furnished, and onsite cleaning services and amenities are superb.
Why Guests Love It: Viewing beautiful Japanese nature from the comfort of your room is a wonderful experience. The western breakfast served every morning is filling and delicious. Staff are friendly, hospitable, and speak English. Many feel it’s the best guesthouse in Japan, though that’s subject to personal opinion.
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Hotel Yamaguchi Japan – Hotel New Tanaka
One train station away from Yamaguchi station, Hotel New Tanaka is as convenient as it is accommodating. A rooftop onsen is the perfect place to relax after a long day of sightseeing, and included toiletries never leave guests wanting for more. Continental and buffet breakfasts are available every morning, and reception is always open to help.
Why Guests Love It: Cheerful staff make the stay more enjoyable, and furnished rooms are a definite plus. Many guests were surprised to find the rooftop bathing area, and considered it an added bonus to an already terrific hotel experience.
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Ryokan Yamaguchi Japan – Tokiwa
Only a ten-minute walk from the nearest station, Tokiwa provides guests with an authentic Japanese ryokan experience that they aren’t likely to forget. If one hot spring bath isn’t enough, Tokiwa delivers with six different baths provided for guests. There’s also a beautiful garden to relax in and enjoy, and the food and entertainment are hard to find elsewhere.
Why Guests Love It: Singing karaoke at the Kasen Bar while enjoying a few drinks is often the highlight of many trips to Tokiwa, and relaxing in an onsen or two afterwards is icing on the cake. Multi-course dinners keep guests satisfied and full, and allow them to have a truly Japanese dining experience.
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Yamaguchi Japan #1: Kintai Bridge
Originally built in 1673, this stunning architectural beauty is a historical sight in the city of Iwakuni. The bridge itself stretches over the Nishiki River, and is comprised of five wooden arches. It’s under Mt. Yokoyama, which allows for breathtaking views and perfect photo ops. There is a small fee to cross the bridge on foot, but the views from the structure are well worth the price.
Along with the sights of the mountains and nearby castle, there are also convenient shops around that keep guests well nourished and refreshed. A particular favorite is the local 100 flavor ice cream shop, which delights people of all ages.
Yamaguchi Japan #2: Hagi Museum
Built in 2004, this quaint little museum focuses on ‘Hagiology’, and is dedicated to the nature, history, culture, and talents from Hagi. It is said that the greatest assets that the city of Hagi has to offer are its rich history and gorgeous scenery. Along with being a place of cultural significance, the quiet city is also a great spot to rest and relax during long journeys.
Hagi Museum also provides an onsite restaurant with quality meals and snacks that will satisfy any guest. Different installations are featured in the museum throughout the year, so return visitors will always have something new to observe and learn about. One permanent installment that delights both adults and children is the deep sea fish exhibit, which features a giant squid.
Spot #3: Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park
Spanning over 45 square kilometers and including part of the Akiyoshi plateau, the Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park is a great place for nature-lovers and those looking to take in Japan’s beautiful scenery. The park is child-friendly, and allows ample space for people of all ages to roam and frolic in joy and happiness. The nearby shops and restaurants are perfect for hungry travels and those that wish to buy souvenirs to take home a lasting memory of the park.
The biggest attraction the park has to offer is its abundance of limestone caves and Japan’s longest cave, the Akiyoshido. The cave reaches 100 meters at its widest points, and has over eight kilometers of passages. Sadly, only one kilometer of the cave is open to the public, but the section itself is still impressive to see. Along with the deep underground caves that can be explored by guests, the park includes a natural history museum, hostel, headquarter building, visitor center, and rest house.
Yamaguchi Japan #4: Tokiwa Park
Tokiwa Park, located in Ube, is a fun place for families, friends, and even solo travelers to enjoy. The park is spacious and features a traditional shrine on the grounds with a beautiful lake right in the center. The foliage is gorgeous year-round, as there’s almost always flowers in bloom. The park is dog-friendly, meaning you just might meet a new furry friend or two.
For those who aren’t as into parks as others, there’s also a small amusement park on the grounds with a few rides to enjoy. A zoo features a nice assortment of animals to view, and a botanical museum hosts many different species of plants that are interesting to look at and learn about. Be sure to leave your bike at the hotel – they’re not allowed in the park, and such rules are strictly enforced.
Yamaguchi Japan #5: Iwakuni Castle
This historic landmark is situated in Iwakuni and has some of the best mountain views around. The castle is four stories tall, and houses an exhibit of samurai swords from various periods in history, as well as other historical pieces like model bridges and castles.
The surrounding ares are best appreciated in the spring and summer seasons, though guests come throughout the year regardless. Tickets can be purchased to use the bridge and cable car, which is good new for those who aren’t up to a long and potentially tiresome hike to reach the castle.
Spot #6: Motonosumi Inari Shrine
One of the most famous sights found in the Yamaguchi Prefecture is this stunning shrine. Facing the Sea of Japan, the shrine overlooks blue waters and green scenery. Those that visit say that the perfect time to take in the scenic views are in the evening just before sunset. Following the 123 red torii gates up the mountain is a wonderful experience that’s hard to find anywhere else.
Even the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, visits every summer to enjoy this gorgeous location.
Yamaguchi Japan #7: Rurikoji Temple
A famous temple in a beautiful landscape, this site is home to an elegant five-story pagoda and historic pieces. The temple is surrounded by a pleasant park and garden. Many guests enjoy praying at the temple in the traditional Japanese method, and almost everyone feels relief to know that the temple is free to enter.
The temple is busiest around the spring and summer seasons due to the cherry blossom viewings, so it’s best to plan your trip to this beautiful shrine accordingly.
Yamaguchi Japan #8: Safari Land
Enjoy the wonders of nature from the safety of a vehicle as you make your way through the grounds at Safari Land. Food for the animals is available during the bus rides, and guests are free to reach out the windows and feed eager animals.
You can interact with an assortment of animals, such as lions, tigers, bears, giraffes, elephants, kangaroos, capybaras, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits, hedgehogs, chicks, squirrel monkeys, and more. Safari Land is fun for guests of all ages, and is popular year-round.
Spot #9: Akama Shrine
If you feel lost in translation due to language barriers, Akama Shrine is the perfect place to rest and appreciate the abundance of English translations. The famous red building is eye catching and perfect in photo backgrounds to give every picture a cultural feel. Parking is available on the other side of the road in front of the main red torii, which has wonderful sights of blue water, Kanmon Bridge, and passing ships.
The shrine is decorated in the traditional Japanese style, and there are plenty of things to see inside and around the main building. A Buddhist hoichi statue brings everything together to create one memorable experience in Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi Japan #10: Shizuki Castle
Also known as Hagi Castle, this National Historic site marks where the great castle once stood. Although only ruins remain, the rich history of the castle has not been lost in time. Many say that they feel a rich, spiritual atmosphere around the area, as if the castle left an unseeable mark on the land.
A nearby shrine still remains, along with several other shops and sights. Climbing up the nearby mountain provides excellent views of the surrounding area. One of the best times to visit is around late March when white cherry blossoms bloom in the area.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path of what tourists and visitors usually do and see, then let Yamaguchi be your hidden gem of a destination. Though it may not seem like the most popular prefecture on the map, this natural beauty has much to offer visitors, and often brings tourists back year after year to keep exploring and visiting the area. Yamaguchi has a little something for everyone, even if they don’t know it.