My First Autumn Experience at Zao Ropeway and Yamadera Temple at Yamagata Prefecture
Our family migrated last year, December 2019, here in Japan, and had my first winter experience right after our arrival. Before my stay here in Japan turns one-year-old by December, I need to share one more season – the Autumn. Hopefully, happening very soon in our place where every tree’s leaves will turn to gold, reds, oranges, although some of the leaves still in green shades near our place. We anticipated Autumn and had hopes to my husband to check the view of mountains in time for the fall season. I cant wait to see the dramatic change of the leave colors where every leaf is like flowers.
Just recently, my husband granted me my wish to see the autumn. It is October in time for the fall season, where some areas are already undergoing the metamorphosis of leaves color. Although some part of Japan was still early for fall. (Just like in our place). We search for a place where we can see the perfect shades of Autumn. Last weekend, my family and I were able to see the magical autumn season here in Japan. We booked the hotel and planned our route as we went on a road trip for two days, Saturday and Sunday. The weather is a bit cloudy by the morning but cleared up later on, and it was a great start during our trip.
We woke up early and left the house by 7 AM. The place we visited was the Yamagata Prefecture, and a 3 hours drive away from hour house. So we put all our luggage needed for the trip, and we start our journey to Yamagata. We stop by at a convenience store to grab our quick breakfast and continue our route to Yamagata. In Japan, there are many available road stations. You can stop by for snacks or use the comfort room anytime. We did a stopover at one of the road stations we passed by named Oguni machi, Yamagata. We saw a store selling a bowl of hot soup. The store caught our curiosity, so we bought a cup for us and tried it. Yes, it tasted delicious mixed with radish, mushroom, and miso paste to make it tastier. My husband, which is Japanese, never tried a Bear soup ever in his entire life, so this is first time for everyone. It was a fun experience to see the store with the skin of the genuine bear displayed. We took a photo with the Bearskin, of course before leaving the station.
The second station we need to get off is for everyone to use the comfort room. From there, we only bought a konyaku ball stick, which is also delicious.
After that, we continue to drive to the mountain, children took a nap, and after one more hour from the station, this view of the mountains showed up. The color of the leaves changes, and the gold color is more dominant than the green leaves.
We were supposed to visit Yamagata’s viewing deck, but the establishment was closed to our surprise due to the corona pandemic. We just headed to our next destination, which is the Zao Ropeway, one of the famous tourist spots of Yamagata Prefecture.
Riding the cable car gave us a fantastic view of the mountains covered with the leaves’ ripe colors in preparation for the winter. It has 10 km as the most prolonged courses and inclined about 38 degrees. The Zao ropeway is famous in any season, most especially during the winter season. Where the trees of the forest look like a snow monster. The resort has an entrance fee of 3000 Yen for adults and 1500 Yen for seven years old and above while still free for seven years old below.
Passengers of the cable car need to wait every 20 minutes for the cable car to arrive down the hills.
There are more cable cars at the Kogen station going up the Zincho Sancho Station, the third and final stations.
It was 1 PM when we arrived at the last station, which is the highest one, so we urgently went for lunch. By that time, there was a minimal option from the menu as it was past lunchtime already.
The foods were all tasted delicious. After eating, we went out outside and did a quick trek from the small mountains near the last station.
We enjoyed the terrace view at Kogen station, but we did not go down further as the road descended, which we think is dangerous for our kids.
The Zao Ropeway is surrounded by onsens, too, so you can visit their onsens if you have time. Onsens are said to be an option of indoors or outdoors, depending on which one suits your personality. We arrived at the based station at 3 o’clock, so it’s a little late than we thought. We went to our hotel after Zao ropeway as everyone are tired from the climbed. The temperature at the top of the mountain was 2 degrees.
The Grand Hotel Yamagata
We booked the Grand hotel to stay for one night at Yamagata. The room is clean, well-arranged, and straightforward. No breakfast includes during our bookings, so we bought breakfast on the following day.
It was 4 in the afternoon when we check-in, so we went out again to see the nearby temple and the train station.
After the temple, we go to the train station just for the kids to see the trains running at the Yamagata line.
After the train stations, we went back to the hotel, and we couldn’t find a restaurant to have our dinner along the road, so we decided to dine in from our hotel restaurant. However, when my husband about to enter, the staff said its fully booked during that time, so we look for another restaurant near the hotel.
Not so far from our hotel, we found one that with fewer customers inside. We ordered a menu basically with rice but no available rice when we dine in, so we need to change our order. Come up with the following foods below for our dinner.
We realized later that it was too hard to find a restaurant at Yamagata. So if you plan to visit here, ask your hotel receptionist to book you for a restaurant in advance before you arrive at the hotel.
The taste of the foods was not that delicious, yet not that bad also. Upon checkout, we noticed that they gave us a discounted price, almost half of the original cost; we didn’t ask anything why and didn’t explain either. After that, we returned to the hotel and went to bed early. The following day, we had a different adventure at Yamagata Prefecture by seeing a temple on the hill’s top. Drive around less than 1 hour from the hotel until we reach the temple.
The Yamadera Temple
The Yamadera temple in Yamagata is a famous tourist spot with 1000 stone steps climb. It was so easy at first, but my legs became so heavy when we are in the middle of the climb. Though our children, the rise was just nothing, like they are just playing in the playground.
We went down to the temple by 11:30 AM and ate at the restaurant just nearby the temple. The parking area for most of the tourists costs 500 yen. After we ate, we moved on to our next place to visit.
The Mogami River Dam Park
Another site in Yamagata that attracts a lot of local tourists. The view is lovely during any season. During our visits, they do have a water show that lasted for less than 10 minutes.
Since the show is just within 10 minutes, we left the park after and started driving home. We used a different route going home by this time. One of the road stations stopped by one of the road stations and enjoyed the authentic Japanese Soba soup.
Overall this experience will forever be remembered. My first autumn adventure was great, and we all had fun with my little family. I can’t wish or couldn’t ask for more.