It’s the early morning of day 6 in Hakodate!
I had to wake up early as my next destination will be a more than 4 hours of travelling and also I need to catch the shinkansen train on time.
Had instant noodles for breakfast as I don’t want to waste time going out for breakfast.
Checked out of my AirBnB hostel (see Day 5) and headed to Hakodate station to take the train to Shin-Hakodate station.
Taking The Train To Yamadera
In this trip, I will be headed to Yamadera which I would need to transfer a few trains and it will be almost 4.5 hours of journey.
Here’s the road map:
Hakodate Station —-> Shin-Hakodate Station —–> Sendai Station —–> Yamadera Station
Since I’ll need to have my lunch on the train, I bought an Ekiben (train bento) from the train station to eat on the train.
Since I’m in Hakodate, I should eat squid! So I bought a squid ika meshi Ekiben.
Once I reached Shin-Hakodate station, I transferred to the Hokkaido Hayabusa Shinkansen.
This is the fastest train if you want to travel to Tokyo from Hokkaido and vice versa as it will only take about 4 hours for the journey.
It is also very expensive so having a JR pass will be advantageous as 1 trip will probably cover most of the cost of your JR pass!
To know more about JR pass, you can read my guide to travelling Japan.
Very important to note is that you need to reserve a seat in order to take the train, even if you hold a JR pass.
So remember to book it immediately at the JR office after you touchdown in the airport in Japan.
So boarded the train and inside is so spacious!
It’s so much better than a plane cabin.
It has a lot of leg room and if you are seated beside the window, there is power socket for you to charge your phone or use it to power your laptop.
It will take about 2.5 hours+ to reach Sendai station. So used the time to plan my trip for Tokyo.
After passing Shin-Aomori station, it’s time for Lunch and took out my Ekiben to eat.
The squid is stuffed with rice in it and there is a soya sauce to dip your squid and eat. It’s really good! It cost 400 Yen only.
After that, alighted at Sendai station to change the JR train for Senzai Line.
The journey to Yamadera station from Sendai is one of the most scenic journeys I had during my train trip because along the journey it transited to snowy mountains which are so beautiful!
Finally, I reached Yamadera station! It’s a very quiet place because I guess it’s already in the afternoon.
There are lockers outside the station to store your luggage if you are bringing some.
There’s even a restaurant that help to store your luggage for free (but they have a certain timing).
After that, it’s time to hike up the mountains to Yamadera temple.
Hiking Up to Yamadera Temple
Yamadera temple, also known as Risshaku-ji temple, is one of the iconic places to visit if you are in Yamagata prefecture.
It’s 1,015 steps up the mountains to the temple which is not difficult to most of us.
It is a popular place for visitors to visit during the autumn period as you can view the colourful sights of coloured leaves and mountains.
During winter, the scene changes to a white wintery background which is awe inspiring.
However, it’s more challenging to climb the steps during winter because the steps are covered with snow and ice.
You pay the entrance fee of 300 yen and if you can rent the boots for free if your shoes are not suitable to climb up the slippery stairs.
Along the way up you can hear some of them screaming while they grab the hand rails tightly. You see some slipped and fell (including me)
I even met some considerate helpers who help to chip away the ice covering the stairs.
After about an hour of huffing and puffing, I finally reached the observatory tower and got rewarded with a beautiful view of the mountains!
Then you take a few more steps up to explore the upper part of the temple.
But because of the heavy snow the temple at the top is closed but still worth to complete your climb!
Climbing down was another challenge as you have to slide down the stairs. It’s a bit faster but somehow scarier because you are not walking down but sliding down!
Either you can grab the railings and slowly slide down with your feet or if you can try sitting down and slide. Make sure you grab the railings so that you don’t slide off the mountain cliff!
By the time I’m finished with the climb it’s about 4 pm which the entrance is closing.
So it’s time to head to Yamagata which I will stay for the night.
Because I’m only stopping over at Yamagata for a 1 night, I booked the nearest hotel to the train station which is a great choice for the convenience I need.
Metropolitan Yamagata Hotel
By the time I reached Yamagata, it was already dark in the night.
The hotel is located just beside the station which you don’t need to walk far at all. I got a good price on it as it seems like a low season there and I booked it about a few days before while I was in Sapporo (I was still searching for a suitable hotel).
The hotel room is very spacious!
As I was already tired from the hike, and the good restaurants are far away, I used google and tabelog to search for the nearest cheap and good restaurant and I found Matsuya!
Cheap and Good Eats: Matsuya
Actually what caught my eye while searching for a restaurant to eat was their banner of beer selling at 150 yen!
Matsuya is more known for its cheap gyu-don. However, I can’t eat beef, so I chose the other popular food like it’s grilled ginger pork set.
How you order is that you choose the food at the vending machine at the entrance of the restaurant and then you’ll be issued a ticket for what you ordered.
Then just take a seat and pass the ticket to the waiter/waitress and wait for your meal.
The set is really value for money as it comes with salad, rice and miso soup. The salad is full of cabbage which is fresh and crispy.
Cheap beer + grilled pork set = happy person!
After a satisfying dinner, took a stroll back to the station.
What’s Famous In Yamagata and Souvenirs!
Yamagata is famous for its hot springs such as Zao onsen and the Ginzan onsen.
It is also famous for its Yonezawa beef, fruits such as cherries, pears, soba noodles and sake.
Took a visit to their souvenir shop at the train station and bought some fruit jellies.
Inside it’s clear jelly with real fuit piece inside.
It’s a good souvenir to bring back if you are in Yamagata.
*Tried them when I got back and I would recommend getting the pear jelly as the pear is better!
There’s also a nice Starbucks with a nice view overlooking people coming out from the station if you need a place to have coffee and chill out.
So after some shopping, rested for the night to prepare for day 7 where I’ll be going to Mount Zao!
Thinking of going to Japan?
Check out my guide on How to Plan a Trip to Japan!