Zao (Yamagata)

A snow sports paradise with open-air onsen

Mt. Zao, located on the border between Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures in japan, is a snow sports paradise and home to one of Tohoku’s best ski resorts. With its picturesque surroundings, rejuvenating hot springs, and delicious locally produced cheese, Mt. Zao offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors.

The main attraction of Mt. Zao is its ski resort, Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort. This resort offers a wide range of courses for skiers of all levels, from beginners to experts. The resort also features a snow park with incredible ski jumps for pro skiers and adrenaline junkies. For those looking for a more relaxing activity, snowshoeing tours are available, allowing visitors to take a leisurely stroll around the beautiful white paradise of the mountains.

After a day of skiing or exploring the mountains, visitors can unwind and relax in one of Zao’s open-air baths. These baths offer a unique experience, allowing guests to soak in hot spring water while enjoying the breathtaking views of the surrounding nature. The open-air baths are particularly popular during the winter season, when guests can soak in the warm water while surrounded by snow-covered landscapes.

Another must-visit attraction in Mt. Zao is the Okama crater lake. This mysterious lake is known for its color-changing waters, which vary depending on the weather and the seasons. The lake is particularly famous for its emerald green color, which is most vibrant during the spring and summer months. To reach the Okama crater lake, visitors can take a bus from Yamagata Station, which takes approximately 90 minutes.

In addition to its natural beauty and outdoor activities, Mt. Zao is also known for its delicious, locally produced cheese. The Zao Cheese Cabin is a dairy lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of cheese products made from locally sourced ingredients. Visitors can sample different types of cheese, learn about the cheese-making process, and even purchase some to take home as a souvenir.

For those interested in local culture and crafts, Mt. Zao offers the opportunity to learn about and create traditional wooden Kokeshi dolls. These dolls have a strong association with hot springs in northern Japan and each area has its own distinctive design. Visitors can visit a Kokeshi doll workshop, where they can learn how to make their own dolls with original patterns. It’s a unique and meaningful way to take home a piece of Tohoku’s culture.

To visit Mt. Zao, travelers can easily reach the area by train and bus. Shinkansen trains operate daily from Tokyo to Yamagata Station, with the journey taking approximately two and a half hours. From Yamagata Station, visitors can take a transfer bus to Zao Onsen, the base of Mt. Zao. The bus ride offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside, adding to the overall experience of the trip.

In conclusion, Mt. Zao is a snow sports paradise with open-air onsen, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors. From skiing and snowboarding at the Zao Hot Springs Ski Resort to relaxing in open-air baths with stunning views, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The area’s natural beauty, including the Okama crater lake, and its delicious locally produced cheese add to the charm and appeal of Mt. Zao. Whether you are a snow sports enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful retreat in nature, Mt. Zao is the perfect destination.

Address And Maps Location:

Kaminoyama-shi, Yamagata-ken

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