Many people might know of the famous mountain temple in Yamagata Prefecture called Yamadera, but one stop further on the train line from Yamagata to Sendai is a small station called Omoshiroyama Kogen. Here, you can get off and walk the Momijigawa Ravine along the river for some beautiful views, and this time of year, some vibrant fall colors as well.

To explore this area, I started out by driving to Yamadera Station, then taking the train to Omoshiroyama Kogen.

Waiting at Yamadera Station

It takes only about 10 minutes to arrive at Omoshiroyama Kogen, and there's not much there at all... not even vending machines! There are some signs for Momijigawa Ravine, however, so I followed them. My first view of the ravine was some beautiful colors and a waterfall! There are a few waterfalls during the walk. This one was number two:

The path was pretty clear for the most part, and if it disappeared, it reappeared again quickly, so it wasn't difficult to figure out where to go. There were a number of bridges and small wooden paths, and it seemed as though they had been replaced recently. Quite a lot of it is along a stone path next to the river.

Stone steps and bridge

Although the path today was mostly dry for me, it often gets close to the water, so if the water level is high your shoes might get a bit wet!

Rushing water

There were some really nice colors along the river, but most of the maple trees ("momiji", which the walk is named for) are still mostly green. In a week or two this area will be even more beautiful, but even today I loved the bright green colors I saw!


Four colors of leaves

It takes about an hour to complete the walk from Omoshiroyama Kogen.

One last bridge to cross

After walking through a short tunnel and some forest, you find yourself at the road between Omoshiroyama Kogen and Yamadera stations.

Don't forget to duck!

From that point, I had a few options. I could follow the road back to Omoshiroyama Kogen, which would take about 30 minutes, and take the train back to Yamadera. Or I could walk the remaining road to Yamadera, which is about an hour and a half. I checked the train schedules, and decided to go ahead and walk all the way to Yamadera instead of waiting for the train.

The road too is really nice, however, and not at all crowded with cars. It is an easy walk, and you might even see some monkeys through the trees!

Forest and road

Cheerful cosmos flowers are also in bloom at this time. I saw these pink ones and couldn't resist taking a few pictures!

I love these flowers!

Finally, I arrived back at Yamadera. It was a truly beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky, and I wasn't the only one enjoying it...

These elementary school students were having tons of fun!

Since I was there, I did a quick climb of the many many stairs to Yamadera. There are a lot of stairs... but the views are definitely worth the effort!

The quintessential Yamadera shot!

I was pretty tired at this point, so I returned to my hotel in Tendo Onsen, the Sakaeya Hotel, to take a break before dinner. I really like the style here. Small decorations and details are placed throughout the hotel with a lot of thought. Very beautiful! And the rooftop bath is pretty awesome too!

Tendo is famous for its "shogi" pieces, a game like chess. There is a large display piece in my room on the right

After a bit of a rest, I got a call from the front desk... a kimono dresser was on her way to my room! I got dressed up in time to eat with members of the Zenryoren, the All Japan Hotel Ryokan Association Junior Group! It was a fun night, and the members even performed the traditional Yamagata "flower hat dance" for me. I got a chance to try it, and was given a flower hat as a gift! It was truly special.

Thank you so much, everyone! I had so much fun!

I leave for Fukushima tomorrow. Goodbye, Yamagata! I'll definitely visit again!