Yamagata (山形) is a small city near Sendai, which is a good transportation and accommodation hub for Yamedera and Zao Onsen.
Budget travel tips
- There is a small castle in the center, Yamagata Castle, which is a nice way to spend some time, but not a must-see. Consider staying here to save on sometimes pricier options outside the city or as a stop-off on your travels.
- The Hanagasa Matsuri, from August 5th to August 7th, is well worth checking out if you are in the area.
How to get there
With a Japan Rail Pass
From Tokyo station, take the JR Shinkansen (JR bullet train) to Yamagata station (2.5 hours).
From Sendai station, take the JR Senzan line to Yamagata station (70 mins).
Without a Japan Rail Pass
From any major city, you can take a bus with Willer Express (click link at the top for English).
By train from Sendai station, take the JR Senzan line to Yamagata station (70 mins, 1140 yen).
Recommended hostels and cheap hotels
APA Hotel Yamagata Ekimae Odori
Budget hotel chain with a branch right outside the station. Can be very cheap as they often do special offers. Check prices at Booking.com.
More at Booking.com