All About Japan

Promoting the Healing Power of Nature

Onsen Hiking Japanese Countryside Great Outdoors Resorts Tohoku Resorts Yamagata Tohoku

The town of Kaminoyama, situated in the southern end of the Tohoku region in Yamagata Prefecture, is about two-and-a-half hours from Tokyo by the Yamagata Shinkansen bullet train, and sits in a valley that faces a popular ski resort destination, the Zao Mountain Range, to the east.

About eight years ago this small town with a population of just over 30,000 began the Kaminoyama Onsen Kurort project, a venture meant to reinvigorate the region by enhancing public health and promoting the influx of nonresidents to the town.

“This project is proof of how widespread walking as a healthful habit has become among residents,” says Kei Sasaki of the Kurort Promotion Division’s Office of Strategic City Planning in the town’s government office. However, with a bemused smile, he adds, “The word Kurort is German, and it refers to a high-quality short-stay wellness and leisure area, but many seniors seem to think it refers to walking itself, and say, ‘Well, I’m going off on a kurort.’ ”

Read full story: