Yamaguchi (山口市 Yamaguchi-shi) 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" during the Medieval Period.
Yamaguchi City is the seat of prefectural government, so it functions as the "capital" of this prefecture. However, it's not a big city; it's a planned city where Hiroyo Ouchi, the regional liege lord, 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 the Ouchi family prospered, Yamaguchi flourished and its nickname became "Kyoto in the West". When Kyoto was devastated by the Onin war, Yamaguchi developed as the alternative capital—many cultured people and foreigners visited the city. Yamaguchi became so successful that it was practically the capital of Japan. However, the destruction of the ruling family in 1551 caused the city to decline.
There are many things in the city that suggest it was prosperous during medieval times.
- Yamaguchi Station. (the main train station is located separately from Shin-Yamaguchi (新山口), a station on the San'yo Shinkansen route. Regular trains connect the two 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 (¥6230 via Nozomi/Mizuho), about 2 1/2 hours from Osaka (¥13150 via Nozomi/Mizuho) and about 5 hours from Tokyo (¥21560 via Nozomi). Japan Rail Pass holders must travel on the Sakura and Hikari services, which take slightly longer; a train change will be required if originating east of Osaka.
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.
- 1 Rurikōji (瑠璃光寺), 7-1 Kayama (Bus to Kenchōmae), ☏ . 09:00-17:00. This temple's five-story pagoda, which was built around 1442, is something of a city symbol. Also noteworthy are the lovely temple grounds (called "Kōzan park") and the tombs of several medieval lords. Free.
- Ichinosaka 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.
- 2 Sesshu's Garden at Jouei-ji temple (常栄寺雪舟庭), 2001 Miyanoshita (JR train to Miyano), ☏ . )8:00-17:00. Designed by the famous Zen Buddhist monk and artist Sesshu (1420-1506). ¥300.
- 3 Xavier Memorial Church (ザビエル記念聖堂), 4-1 Kameyama-chō, ☏ . Museum Th-Tu 09:00-17:30, Catholic mass Su 09:30. 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. An Italian architect designed the church's dazzling white interior and angular sea-blue windows. See also Christian sites in Japan. ¥300 for the museum.
- 4 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.
- 5 Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM, 山口情報芸術センター, yamaguchi jōhō geijutsu sentā). 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.
- 6 Tojun-ji (洞春寺), 5-27 Mizunoue-cho, ☏ . 08:00-17:00. Tojun-ji Temple is a historic temple 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.
- 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.
- 1 Xavier Campana (サビエルカンパーナ), 5-2 Kameyamachō, ☏ . Bakery
- 2 R. Paysan (ペイザン), 7395-1 Ajisu, ☏ . An Italian restaurant.
- 3 ANDO Luck (ANDO吉祥 小郡店), Terminal Hotel 1F, ☏ . 11:30-14:00, 17:30-23:00. Cocktails and creative takes on Japanese hors d'oeuvres. It's outside the north entrance of Shin-Yamaguchi Station. ¥3500.
- 1 Denki Brown (浪漫酒場電氣ブラン), Yudaonsen 4-1-8, ☏ . 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.
Most hotels are in the expensive Yuda Onsen area, which can be reached via JR Yuda Onsen Station on the JR Yamaguchi Line (3 minutes by train from Yamaguchi Station then 10 minutes on foot). Some will offer transfers to and from Shin-Yamaguchi Station.
- 1 Comfort Hotel Shin Yamaguchi (コンフォートホテル新山口), 1255-1 Ogori-Shimogo, ☏ . Western style rooms with free continental breakfast and Internet access. As the name suggests, it's about 40 meters from Shin-Yamaguchi Station. Singles ¥5500.
- 2 Matsudaya Hotel (松田屋ホテル), 3-6-7 Yuda Onsen, ☏ . 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.
- 3 Teshima Ryokan (てしま旅館), ☏ .
Its central location provides easy access to the rest of the prefecture;
|Routes through Yamaguchi|
|Hakata ← Shin-Shimonoseki ← Asa ←||W E||→ Tokuyama → Hiroshima|
|Shimonoseki ← Ube ←||W E||→ Hofu → Hiroshima|
|Shimonoseki ← Mine ←||W E||→ Tokuji (Hofu) → Hiroshima|
|END ←||W E||→ Hofu → Hiroshima|