Tsuruoka, Japan

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Tsuruoka, Japan

Region: Yamagata Prefecture

Geographic Coordinates: 38.727200, 139.827000
Temperature Range: -10.0°C to 35.0°C (14°F to 95°F)
Climate: Seasonal climate and weather patterns in Tsuruoka, Japan are influenced by the monsoon season and result in hot summers and cold winters with occasional snowfall.
Population: 121371
Language: Japanese

Tsuruoka is a city located in the Yamagata Prefecture of Japan with a population of approximately 130, 000 people. The city is situated on the coast of the Sea of Japan and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. Tsuruoka has been designated as one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Japan and offers visitors an opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture. One of the most popular attractions in Tsuruoka is Mount Haguro, Which is one of the three sacred mountains in Yamagata Prefecture.

The mountain stands at 414 meters tall and features a beautiful five-story pagoda that was built over 600 years ago. Visitors can climb up through a forested path to reach the top where they can enjoy stunning views over Tsuruoka. Another must-visit attraction in Tsuruoka is Dewa Sanzan, Which consists of three sacred mountains: Mount Haguro, Mount Gassan, And Mount Yudono. These mountains are considered holy by both Shinto and Buddhist religions and attract pilgrims from all over Japan.

Tsuruoka also boasts several historic sites such as Chido Museum which houses various art pieces created by local artists throughout history; Shonai Museum showcasing regional history; Kamo Aquarium featuring marine life from both local waters and around the world; Atsumi Onsen hot springs famous for its natural hot spring water that contains iron-rich minerals believed to be good for health. The city’s food scene also deserves attention with its unique culinary delights like shojin ryori (traditional vegetarian cuisine), Soba noodles made from buckwheat flour grown locally, Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), Kiritanpo (mashed rice grilled on skewers), Among others.

In addition to its natural beauty and cultural attractions, Tsuruoka hosts several annual festivals like Hanagasa Matsuri where participants dance while holding flower hats; Shonai Kite Festival displaying giant kites from all over Japan; and Tsuruoka International Film Festival showcasing movies from around the world. Overall, Tsuruoka is a city that offers visitors a chance to experience traditional Japanese culture, Natural beauty, And unique cuisine. With its rich history and vibrant festivals, It’s no wonder why this city is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination in Japan.

Important Landmarks

  1. Mount Haguro
  2. Dewa Sanzan Shrine
  3. Tsuruoka Park
  4. Shonai Shrine
  5. Kamo Aquarium
  6. Tsuruoka City Museum of Art
  7. Sakata Yume-no-Kura Sake Brewery Museum
  8. Chido Museum
  9. Mogami River Boat Tour
  10. Gassan Ski Resort

Primary Industries

  1. Tsuruoka, Japan is renowned for its thriving agriculture and forestry industries.
  2. The major crops grown in the region are:
    • Rice
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits such as cherries and pears
  3. The city also boasts a prosperous seafood industry owing to its location along the Sea of Japan.
  4. Additionally, Tsuruoka has several other significant industries such as:
    • Manufacturing of electronic components
    • Machinery
  5. Due to the city’s natural beauty, historical sites, and hot springs, there is an emerging tourism industry.
  6. In terms of businesses operating in Tsuruoka, there are numerous large corporations like:
    • Yamaha Corporation (musical instruments)
    • Hitachi Metals (metals processing)
    • Tohoku Electric Power Company (electricity provider)
    • Shonai Bank (banking)

Noteable History

  1. Tsuruoka Castle was constructed in the 16th century and served as the seat of power for the Mogami clan, one of Japan’s most potent feudal lords.
  2. Tsuruoka was formerly a part of the Shonai Domain, which was ruled by the Mogami clan from 1600 to 1871.
  3. Basho Matsuo, a renowned Japanese poet who lived during the Edo period, visited Tsuruoka and wrote about its natural beauty in his travelogue Oku no Hosomichi.
  4. Dewa Sanzan is a group of three sacred mountains located near Tsuruoka that are considered holy by both Shinto and Buddhist religions.
  5. Yamagata Masakage was a samurai warrior who served under Date Masamune, one of Japan’s most famous feudal lords.
  6. Kamo Shrine is an ancient Shinto shrine situated in Tsuruoka that dates back over 1,000 years.
  7. Sakai Toshihiko is a celebrated Japanese actor born in Tsuruoka who has appeared in numerous films and television dramas.
  8. Takahashi Korekiyo was an influential Japanese statesman who served as Prime Minister on two occasions during the early 20th century.
  9. Nangaku Sodo is an annual Zen meditation event held at Churenji Temple in Tsuruoka that attracts thousands of participants each year.
  10. Hasedera Temple is a Buddhist temple located on Mount Haguro near Tsuruoka that dates back to the Heian period (794-1185).

Museums and Things To See

  1. Tsuruoka City Museum
  2. Shonai Shrine
  3. Dewa Sanzan Shrine
  4. Atsumi Onsen Hot Spring Village
  5. Tsuruoka Park and Castle Ruins
  6. Kamo Aquarium
  7. Hagurosan Mountain
  8. Yudonosan Shrine
  9. Tachiyazawa Lake
  10. Chido Museum of Art

Sports Teams

  1. Tsuruoka High School Baseball Team: The Tsuruoka High School baseball team is one of the most successful high school baseball teams in Japan. They have won the National High School Baseball Championship twice (in 1970 and 1993) and produced several professional players.
  2. Blaublitz Akita: Blaublitz Akita is a professional soccer club based in Akita Prefecture but has its roots in Tsuruoka City. They were founded as TDK Soccer Club by employees of TDK Corporation’s factory in Tsuruoka City back in 1989.
  3. Yamagata University Rugby Football Club: The Yamagata University Rugby Football Club (YURFC) was established in 1946 and has been one of the most successful rugby clubs at university level competitions.
  4. Tsuruoka Nishitokyo Basketball Club: This basketball club was established around 1960s-1970s but there isn’t much information available on their history or achievements.

Cultural Events

  1. Shonai Kagura is a traditional dance and music performance that occurs at various locations in Tsuruoka throughout the year. It features colorful costumes, dramatic movements, and live music.
  2. Hanagasa Matsuri is an annual festival that takes place in August and showcases a parade of people wearing hats adorned with flowers. There are also taiko drum performances, food stalls, and other cultural activities.
  3. The Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine Festival is held in September to celebrate the harvest season with traditional dances, music performances, and a procession of mikoshi (portable shrines).
  4. Yudate Kagura is another traditional dance performance that happens at hot springs around Tsuruoka which tells the story of a demon who was defeated by a hero using hot water.
  5. Sankyo Matsuri happens in November where portable shrines are carried through the streets while shouting sankyo followed by taiko drum performances and food stalls.
  6. Kamo Aquarium Night Show takes place during summer nights at Kamo Aquarium featuring illuminated tanks with live fish swimming around to music.
  7. Snow Candle Festival occurs during winter months on Mount Haguro near Tsuruoka city center where visitors can enjoy snow sculptures illuminated by candlelight along with local cuisine such as soba noodles topped with mountain vegetables or grilled mochi rice cakes dipped in soy sauce.


  • Shojin Ryori: A vegetarian cuisine that originated from Buddhist temples.
  • Kaisen-don: A seafood rice bowl with fresh fish and shrimp.
  • Imo-kenpi: Fried potato sticks that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • Yonezawa Beef: High-quality beef from Yonezawa City that is known for its marbling and tenderness.
  • Soba noodles: Thin buckwheat noodles served hot or cold with various toppings such as tempura, seaweed, or grated daikon radish.
  • Izakaya-style restaurants: These casual bars serve a variety of small dishes to share along with drinks such as sake or beer.

Some recommended restaurants in Tsuruoka are:

  • Hana no Mai (花の舞): A restaurant serving traditional Japanese dishes made with local ingredients including seafood, vegetables, and rice.
  • Soba no Miya (そばの宮): A soba noodle restaurant located in a historic building dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868).
  • Goto Shoten (五島商店): An izakaya-style restaurant serving local sake along with small dishes made from seasonal ingredients.
  • Yamagata-tei (山形亭): A restaurant specializing in Yonezawa beef served as steak or shabu-shabu hot pot style.
  • Fukumaru Sushi (福丸寿司): A sushi bar using fresh seafood caught off the coast of Tsuruoka city served nigiri-style sushi or sashimi plates.

  • Parks and Recreation

    1. Tsuruoka Park: a large park with walking paths, gardens, and sports facilities.
    2. Hagurosan Ski Resort: a popular ski resort in the winter months.
    3. Kamo Aquarium: an aquarium featuring local marine life and interactive exhibits.
    4. Shonai Shrine: a historic shrine surrounded by beautiful gardens.
    5. Dewa Sanzan Shrine Hike: a challenging hike to three sacred mountains.
    6. Tsuruoka City Cultural Hall: a venue for concerts, theater performances, and cultural events.
    7. Tsuruoka International Film Festival: an annual film festival showcasing international films.
    8. Nangakuji Temple: a serene temple with beautiful gardens and traditional architecture.
    9. Sakata Hanabusa Art Museum: an art museum featuring works by local artists.
    10. Tachiyazawa Dam Lake Park – A scenic park with boating and fishing opportunities on the lake.


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