Japanese Culture and Food: Yamagata
This is our last entry for the Tohoku region of Japan, before we move towards Koshin’etsu and Kanto. Yamagata is a prefecture on Japan’s eastern coast with ties to the Ezo people. There is a fascinating history to be discovered in Yamagata, as well as a large variety of tasty local foods like cherries and persimmons.
Yamagata shares borders with Akita, Miyagi and Fukushima from the Tohoku region, and it also shares a southern border with Niigata in Koshin’etsu. It is largely surrounded by mountains on the borders, meaning that the majority of its populations reside in the central area. Yamagata is marked by beauty, and almost a fifth of its land is designated as Natural Parks.
Due to the mountainous nature of Yamagata’s borders, you can find many beautiful scenes on the outskirts of this prefecture. Bordering with Miyagi, Mount Zao stands astride the two prefectures and can be climbed from Yamagata’s side. At the top of Mount Zao is a beautiful volcanic crater lake called Okama. There are plenty of strong winds at the top, so it is recommended that visitors bring warm clothing for their hike.
It’s southern border with Fukushima looks towards the Five Colour Lake. The Goshiki-numa formed when Mount Bandai erupted in 1888 and have become a popular tourist attraction due to their tendency to change colour depending on the season.
While many people like to refer to the colour changing nature of these lakes as a mystery, the truth is embedded in science – the Goshiki-numa change colour due to their mineral contents which react to light, water depth and PH. At different times of the year, the light of the sun will hit the water at different angles, causing reflections and refractions through the water which can alter the perceivable colours of the waters. The minerals also behave differently at different water depths, and duck droppings can change the PH of the water which also affects the minerals and their relationship with light and colour.
Yamagata is also famous for a brilliant five-story pagoda and ski resorts.
Yamagata produces the largest amount of cherries and pears in Japan, but it’s also famed for grapes, apples, peaches, melons, persimmons and watermelons. Overall, Yamagata is well known for its luxurious fruits, and this shows in their dishes too.
A single box of cherries from Yamagata can be sold for as much as £40. Yamagata truly has a monopoly on luxury cherries. Yamagata even has a festival dedicated to its thriving cherry production industry, which takes place in late May to early June. The festival is celebrated in many cities throughout the prefecture, so it’s hard to miss it if you’re visiting the country during this period. During this time, a variety of cherry flavoured products are available, including cherry liqueurs and ice cream!
Yamagata isn’t the only prefecture that likes to show off it’s skill with cattle raising, but its take on beef shouldn’t be missed out on. Yonezawa beef is high-quality and served in barbecue and sukiyaki.
We at Sapporo Teppanyaki also love beef dishes! We recommend that you try out our barbecue ribs, sirloin steaks or our beef fillets served from the teppanyaki, in our Japanese restaurant in Manchester or our Japanese restaurant in Liverpool.
Summer in Japan can get very hot, and the last thing you want to be eating on a hot day is hot stodgy food – so Yamagata became responsible for serving ramen cold (sometimes even with ice cubes) in order to keep up with changing tastes throughout the seasons.
Hiyashi Ramen isn’t just cold, however, it is typically served with ingredients that suit summer produce, such as cucumber and seaweed.
Enjoy beautiful and authentic Japanese food at one of our restaurants. Be sure to check out our events and offers page for updates and savings that you won’t want to miss out on this year. We look forward to seeing you soon!