The Yamagata Shinkansen is a high speed bullet train rail route that connects Tokyo with destinations in Yamagata Prefecture. The Yamagata Shinkansen is a branch line of the Tohoku Shinkansen. Yamagata Shinkansen services follow the Tohoku Shinkansen between Tokyo Station and Fukushima Station. Beyond Fukushima Station the Yamagata Shinkansen branches off from the Tohoku Shinkansen and follows the Ou Main Line to Shinjo Station.
Yamagata Prefecture is known for its mountainous countryside, hot spring spa resorts, fruit orchards, wineries, and scenic temples. This prefecture has long snowy winters and so it is also a very popular destination for skiing and snowboarding. The ski season lasts from November through to May.
The train service that runs on the Yamagata Shinkansen is called the Tsubasa which means “wing”. Between Tokyo and Fukushima Tsubasa services are coupled to Yamabiko services. At Fukushima the two services separate, and while the Yamabiko continues on the Tohoku Shinkansen toward Sendai and Morioka, the Tsubasa is diverted on to the Yamagata Shinkansen branch line and continues on to Shinjo.
At JR Ueno Station Yamagata Shinkansen services run from platforms 19 and 20. The Yamagata Shinkansen is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
There are 11 stations on the Yamagata Shinkansen route between Fukushima Station and Shinjo Station.
Fukushima > Yonezawa > Takahata > Akayu > Kaminoyama Onsen > Yamagata > Tendo > Sakurambo-Higashine > Murayama > Oishida > Shinjo
Information on the key destinations and on transfer points is given below. For detailed information on destinations between Tokyo and Fukushima, please see our article on the Tohoku Shinkansen. Example ticket fares and journey times are given from JR Ueno Station. Tickets for reserved seats usually cost around 500 yen extra but this can go up and down in peak and non-peak travel periods. Low season reserved ticket pricing is given below.
Transfer here to the Iizaka Line bound for the hot spring spa town of Iizaka. This station is also served by the Tohoku Main Line, the Ou Main Line, and the Abukuma Express Line.
Train fare (reserved): 8,540 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
The chief attractions near Yonezawa are Yonezawa Ski Resort and the Onogawa Onsen hot spring spa resort. There is a direct bus service from Yonezawa Station to the ski resort that takes just 30 minutes. Another bus service from Yonezawa Station to Onogawa Onsen takes 24 minutes.
The main attraction inside Yonezawa City is the Uesugi Jinja Shrine which is dedicated to the Uesugi family who once ruled the area. The shrine was built in the 19th century on the former site of Yonezawa Castle. Although the castle has now gone, its moats still surround the shrine. Close by the shrine is the Uesugi Museum which holds many items related to the city’s history as a castle town, and there are several exhibits which are designated national treasures.
A winter festival is held at the Uesugi Jinja on the second weekend of February during which 3,000 candles are lit inside snow lanterns. Another festival called Uesugi Matsuri is held every year from April 29th to May 3rd. During this festival over a thousand people in colorful costumes perform traditional dances through Yonezawa’s streets, there is a samurai parade, and on the final day there is a battle reenactment on the banks of the Matsukawa River. Yonezawa is also well known for its beef, which is considered a fine regional delicacy.
Yonezawa Station is served by the by JR East’s Ou Main Line and Yonesaka Line.
Train fare (reserved): 9,940 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 2 minutes
Akayu Onsen is a popular hot spring spa town with many traditional ryokan inns and hot spring bathing facilities. The natural mineral waters of the hot springs are believed to be good for your health. Nearby Eboshiyama Park is said to be one of the top cherry blossom viewing locations in Japan and there are also several wineries in the area.
Akayu Station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line and Yamagata Railway’s Flower Nagai Line.
Train fare (reserved): 10,470 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 17 minutes
Kaminoyama Onsen Station
Kaminoyama Castle is a nine minute walk from Kaminoyama Onsen Station. This is a reconstruction of the original 14th century castle, and it contains a museum of local history. Fruit picking in the orchards, farms, and vineyards around Kaminoyama is a popular activity from June through to October, depending on the fruit. Cherries, pears, grapes, plums and peaches are all well-known agricultural products of the region.
This station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line.
Train fare (reserved): 10,790 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Yamagata is the capital city of Yamagata Prefecture. One of the most famous attractions in Yamagata is Yamadera Temple (also called Risshakuji) which was founded in the year 860. This spectacular temple complex gradually rises up the slopes of a mountain via 1,000 steps. One famous visitor to contemplate the mountain stillness here was the haiku poet Matsuo Basho. Close to the temple is a museum dedicated to Basho’s life and poetry. To get to Yamadera Temple take the Senzan Line from Yamagata Station to Yamadera Station. The trip takes 15 minutes.
Yamagata is also the gateway to Mount Zao, a scenic mountain range, which is popular for hiking and skiing, and for its hot springs. Mount Zao’s attractions include the beautiful crater lake, Okama, and in the winter the “snow monsters” that are created when trees are completely covered in ice and snow. Zao Onsen’s hot spring baths are the best place to relax after hiking or skiing on Mount Zao.
Popular hotels in Zao Onsen are Zao Kokusai Hotel, Gokan no Yu Tsuruya, and Wakamatsuya. To get to Mount Zao, transfer at Yamagata Station to a bus bound for Zao Onsen. The trip takes about 40 minutes.
Yamagata Station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line, Senzan Line and Aterazawa line.
Train fare (reserved): 10,790 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 39 minutes
Tendo City also has a number of hot spring spa resort hotels and several interesting museums. Tendo is best known for its production of pieces for a board game, similar to chess, called shogi. There are many shogi shops in Tendo and a Shogi Museum right beside Tendo Station. “Ningen Shogi” or “People Shogi” is a live action version of this game with real people instead of pieces. Participants are dressed in full samurai costume and move about on a giant shogi board. Ningen Shogi is played at the end of April during the cherry blossom festival in Tendo Park which is on top of Mount Maizuru.
Just 12 minutes’ walk from Tendo Station is the Hiroshige Museum which displays works by the famous 19th century woodblock print artist Utagawa Hiroshige. The museum has some rare paintings on silk that Hiroshige made of Tendo scenery. Another 8 minutes’ walk north of the Hiroshige Museum is Tendo City Museum of Art which displays traditional Nihonga paintings by local artist Chuichi Konno, and the bright modern paintings of Kumagai Morikazu. The museum is a 15 minute walk from the station.
This station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line.
Train fare (reserved): 11,560 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 59 minutes
Oishida Station is the closest railway station to Ginzan Onsen, which may be the prettiest hot spring spa town in Yamagata. Ginzan Onsen has many historic buildings dating from the Taisho era (1912-1926) and is surrounded by picturesque country locations such as the Senshinkyo Valley and the Shirogane Falls.
The name Ginzan means “silver mountain” because the town was built on the site of a former silver mine and some of the mine’s caves are now open to visitors. Popular ryokan in Ginzan Onsen are Ginzanso, and Kosekiya Bekkan. There is a bus service between Oishida Station and Ginzan Onsen which takes about 40 minutes. However, many hotels will provide a free shuttle service between the station and the resort which will take under 30 minutes.
Oishida Station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line.
Train fare (reserved): 11,780 yen
Train time: 3 hours and 22 minutes
Shinjo Station is the last stop on the Yamagata Shinkansen. Shinjo City is known for having produced a large number of famous manga artists, so a visit to the Shinjo Mogami Manga Museum is essential for manga and anime fans.
One of the biggest events in Yamagata Prefecture is the Shinjo Matsuri festival which is held here each summer. The three day festival includes parades, traditional music, dancing, street stalls, and massive colorful floats. Shinjo Matsuri was first held in 1755 and in 2017 was registered by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage. The festival is held every year from August 24th – 26th.
This station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line, Rikuu East Line, and Rikuu West Line.
Train fare (reserved): 12,320 yen
Train time: 3 hours and 37 minutes
Tickets & Discounts
The Japan Rail Pass can be used for either ordinary seating or Green Car seating. However, at the time you buy the pass, you must choose an Ordinary Pass or a Green Pass. As an alternative to the Japan Rail Pass, JR East also offer a discount pass for the Tohoku area of northern Honshu. This special 5 day pass for overseas visitors offers unlimited use of JR East’s local trains, shinkansen, and limited express services within the designated area and also some non-JR trains in the Izu and Nikko areas. This pass is great if you want to explore Yamagata Prefecture and other parts of northern Honshu. For prices and more details check the official JR East Pass webpage. To save you time, tickets for the Yamagata Shinkansen can also be reserved online.
Map & Timetables
View our complete map of Japan’s shinkansen high-speed train network.
JR East has complete timetables for Yamagata Shinkansen trains heading from Tokyo and to Tokyo. To look up train times, fares, and connections quickly on this route use online English route finders like Hyperdia or the Japan Transit Planner.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos by Michael Lambe, Seventh Heaven/PIXTA(1), nego/PIXTA(2,6), masao/PIXTA(7), genki/PIXTA(8) All rights reserved.