Whilst the sakura is in full bloom in Kyoto and Tokyo, in Yamagata there are still blizzards and snow lies thick on the ground until April. From mid-May onwards, though, an extraordinary transformation takes place. As nature finally awakens from its slumber, trees burst back into life. Flowers appear overnight, and all around, the previously bare earth becomes vibrant once again.
The snow on the mountain tops melts away to reveal rich vegetation below. The rice that is planted in May soon grows tall and thick. From peaceful temple gardens to the fields and forests that surround the towns and villages of this rural prefecture, there is greenery everywhere.
Come to Yamagata during the summer months and you’ll be amazed by how many different shades of green you can see!
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I spent three years living in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET Programme, not knowing what to expect but with images of Tokyo, geisha and Mount Fuji in my mind. I was placed in Yamagata prefecture in a small rural town that I couldn't find in any guidebook. I learnt to snowboard, climbed mountains, tried my hand at ikebana and kyuudo and koto, dressed up as a samurai, karaoked til the early hours, become obsessed with onsen, and had countless other adventures and experiences. For a relatively small country, Japan has so much to offer, and I love nothing better than exploring - particularly heading off the beaten track and into the beautiful countryside. I set myself a personal challenge to visit each of the 47 prefectures, which gave me a great excuse to do a lot of travelling. Although I've now ticked them all off, there's still so much I want to see. Japan will always be my second home and and I'm looking forward to discovering and learning more for a long time to come.