Yamaguchi

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Yamaguchi (山口) is the capital of Yamaguchi prefecture, at the western tip of the island of Honshu, Japan. In the city, there is a beautiful Japanese town which flourished as "Kyoto in the West" in the Medieval Period. We can find lots of traces of its prosperity there.

The Rurikoji temple's Five-Storied-Pagoda, which was built around 1442, is the symbol of this old city.

Districts[edit]

Main districts of Yamaguchi city

The area of Yamaguchi is very large. Therefore, it can be divided into some districts.

  • Old town of Yamaguchi(I) - Yamaguchi Station, Rurikoji, Shopping district, St. Xavier's Church, etc.
  • Ouchi district including Niho and Osaba(II)
  • Shin-Yamaguchi district;New town of Yamaguchi(III, IV) - Shin Yamaguchi Station
  • Aio(V)
  • Ajisu(VI) - Kirara Dome
  • Tokuji(VII)

Understand[edit]

Yamaguchi City is the seat of prefectural government, so it functions as the "capital" of this prefecture. However, it is not a big city and impresses us as a planned city. Actually, it is a planned city where Hiroyo Ouchi, the liege lord of this region, placed his government in 1360. From then on, the town developed, copying the elegance of Kyoto, which used to be the capital of Japan. As Ouchi family prospered, this city also flourished and it was called "Kyoto in the West" in those days. Especially, while Kyoto was devastated by Onin war, Yamaguchi developed as the alternative capital. Many cultured people and foreigners visited the city. It was as if Yamaguchi was practically the capital of Japan. But regrettably the destruction of this family in 1551 caused the city to fall. We can see a lot of things in this city that suggests its prosperity in medieval times.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Yamaguchi Ube Airport(UBJ) in Ube is the prefecure's largest airport. You can take a bus from the airport to Shin-Yamaguchi station.

By train[edit]

Yamaguchi's main train station(Yamaguchi Station) is located separately from Shin-Yamaguchi (新山口), a station on the San'yo Shinkansen route. Regular trains connect both stations in 15-25 minutes.

Shin-Yamaguchi is a bullet train station stop for only a few Nozomi trains, most Hikari trains, and all of the Kodama all-station trains. By a combination of bullet train and local train, Yamaguchi is about 60-70 minutes from Hakata in Fukuoka (¥5860 via Nozomi), about 2 1/2 hours from Osaka (¥12890 via Nozomi) and about 5 hours from Tokyo (¥20960 via Nozomi).

Note that you cannot use NOZOMI trains with the Japan Rail Pass.

Get around[edit]

JR Yamaguchi Line goes through the city. The main tourist stops are at Yuda Onsen Station for Yuda Onsen and Yamaguchi Station. Joeiji Temple is closer to Miyano Station.

While most sites can be reached on foot, the walk may be longer than many tourists would like, so it is advised to take a bus or rent a bicycle. There is a rentacycle across the street from Yamaguchi Station.

See[edit]

Five-story pagoda in snow
  • Rurikōji (瑠璃光寺), 7-1 Kayama (Bus to Kenchōmae),  +81 83-924-9139. 9AM-5PM. This temple's five-story pagoda is something of a city symbol. Also noteworthy are the lovely temple grounds and the tombs of several medieval lords. Free.
Ichinosaka-gawa River covered by cherry blossoms
  • Ichinosaka-gawa River (一の坂川)

Over the clean and beautiful small river, many cherry blossoms can be seen in spring, and in summer you will find many fireflies glowing.

  • Sesshu's Garden at Joueiji (常栄寺雪舟庭), 2001 Miyanoshita (JR train to Miyano),  +81 83-922-2272. 8AM-5PM. Designed by the famous Zen Buddhist monk and artist Sesshu (1420-1506). ¥300.
  • Xavier Memorial Church (ザビエル記念聖堂), 4-1 Kameyama-chō +81 83-920-1549. Museum Thu-Tu 9AM-5:30PM, Catholic mass Su 9:30AM. Dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, who visited Japan as a missionary in 1549–51 and spent close to a year in Yamaguchi. The first floor is a museum in honor of "Sabieru", and mass is held on the second floor. Italian architect designed the church's dazzling white interior and angular sea-blue windows. ¥300 for the museum.
  • Yamaguchi Daijingu (山口大神宮). Always open. The shrine was built as a branch shrine of Ise Shrine in the Muromachi Period. Like Ise Shrine, it is rebuilt every 20 years. The shrine was especially popular during the Edo Period among people in the west who were not able to make the pilgrimage to Ise Shrine; they came here instead. Free.
  • Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media. The Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM) was established in November 2003 as a cultural-arts complex that accommodates a hall for stage performances, an exhibition space, a mini film theatre, and the Yamaguchi City Library. A platform for sharing computer- and IT-based media technology, YCAM hosts among others a variety of theatre and dance performances, art exhibitions, film screenings, sound-related events, workshops and lectures.
  • Tojun-ji (洞春寺), 5-27 Mizunoue-cho 083-922-1028. 8AM-5PM. Tojun-ji Temple is a historic temple located near Kozan Park. The temple gate and Kannon-do Hall are registered Important Cultural Properties. It is also the 16th temple of the Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage. Free.

Do[edit]

Festivals[edit]

  • Lantern Star Festival(山口七夕ちょうちん祭り)

Held on August 6th and 7th. The city center becomes decorated with red impressive lanterns.

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

  • ANDO Luck (ANDO吉祥), Terminal Hotel 1F +81 83-973-3246. 11:30AM-2PM, 5:30-11PM. Cocktails and creative takes on Japanese hors d'oeuvres. It's outside the north entrance of Shin-Yamaguchi Station. ¥3500.
  • La Francesca (ラ・フランチェスカ), 7-1 Kameyama-machi +81 83-934-1888. 11:30AM-4:30PM, 5:30-9:30PM. Pizza, pasta, and seafood. It's in the Hotel Francesca. Lunch sets from ¥1575, dinner sets from ¥5250, a la carte dishes from ¥1260.

Drink[edit]

Denki Brown: Discrete, sophisticated bar in heart of Yamaguchi. Serves gourmet bar food, cocktails and notable for extensive range of authentic single malts. Very pleasant atmosphere with a hint of smooth jazz!

Sleep[edit]

Most hotels are in the expensive Yuda Onsen area, which can be reached via JR Yuda Onsen Station on the JR Yamaguchi Line (10 minutes). Some will offer transfers to and from Shin-Yamaguchi Station.

  • Comfort Hotel Shin Yamaguchi1255-1 Ogori-Shimogo +81 83-974-2511. Western style rooms with free continental breakfast and Internet access. As the name suggests, it's about 40 meters from Shin-Yamaguchi Station. Rooms from ¥5500 single.
  • Matsudaya Hotel3-6-7 Yuda Onsen +81 83-922-0125. Beautifully sculpted hotel situated in a garden from the Edo period. Natural hot springs and seasonal cuisine are available. Rooms from ¥32,550 single, ¥42,000 double.
  • Hotel La Francesca
  • Teshima Ryokan

Go next[edit]

Other cities in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Routes through Yamaguchi
HakataShin-Shimonoseki ← Asa ←  W Sanyo Shinkansen icon.png E  TokuyamaHiroshima
ShimonosekiUbe  W JR Sanyo icon.png E  HofuHiroshima
ShimonosekiMine  W Chugoku Expwy Route Sign.svg E  Tokuji (Hofu)Hiroshima
END  W Sanyo Expwy Route Sign.svg E  HofuHiroshima


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