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【Yamaguchi Tourism】 What’s so special about Yamaguchi City?

The New York Times chose Yamaguchi City as one of its 52 Places to Go in 2024

The prefecture of Yamaguchi is known for its abundant nature, with a wealth of attractions found throughout. At the prefecture’s heart lies the city of Yamaguchi, whose many sightseeing spots include natural places to appreciate the passing of the seasons, architecture steeped in history, and numerous natural hot springs. OTANISANSO is just a 60-minute drive from this hub, making our ryokan an easy addition to your itinerary or a base for exploring the city.

In January, Yamaguchi City was selected by American newspaper The New York Times as a recommended destination for 2024, mentioning the famed five-storied pagoda of Rurikoji Temple, designated as a national treasure for its distinctive cypress bark shingles, as well as the Yuda Onsen hot springs and the city’s charmingly retro kissaten coffeeshops. Writer and photographer Craig Mod also points out that Yamaguchi is a city that hasn’t been negatively impacted by overtourism, where it’s still possible to interact freely and organically with locals. Mod describes strolling through the compact but lively town, mingling with people who radiate an approachable friendliness. Of Yamaguchi, Mod writes, “Good life is possible here, full life, on a human scale, operating within the bounds of a warm community, feeling your own small contributions meaningfully add up in the lives of people around you.”

When you come to Yamaguchi, we invite you to enjoy not only the famous sightseeing spots but also the lived-in city, with its unique shops and welcoming people.

Where to go in Yamaguchi City

If you would like to experience the Yamaguchi City Craig Mod describes, we have prepared a suggested itinerary for you.


10:00 am – Rurikoji Temple Five-storied PagodaKozan Park

Rurikoji Temple’s five-storied pagoda dates from 1442 and is designated a national treasure. It was built for the funeral rites of powerful local daimyo Yoshihiro Ouchi, commissioned by his younger brother Morimi. It stands 31.2 meters high and is considered an excellent example of Buddhist architecture. It is one of Japan’s three most famous pagodas, along with those at Daigoji Temple in Kyoto and Horyuji Temple in Nara. Views of the tower are particularly impressive in spring, when the nearby cherry trees are in bloom, and in fall, when the maples turn red. The pagoda is currently under renovation as all of its iconic cypress bark shingles are replaced, a project scheduled to be completed in March 2026. The tower itself will be under wraps until then, but the blue sheet wrapping is scheduled to be replaced with transparent panels in 2025, so you can see the construction progress. Also, the surrounding Kozan Park is still open to visitors. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds to see other historical highlights like Makuraryu-tei and teahouse Rozan-do, both venues where leaders of the Meiji Restoration gathered in secret to plan their rebellion.

Address: 1-28 Kimachi, Yamaguchi
Fee: Free (admission charged for Rurikoji Temple Museum)
Access from Shin-Yamaguchi Station (Shinkansen stop): VIEW IN GOOGLE MAPS


11:00 am – Mizunoue Kiln

Craig Mod calls this kiln one of the friendliest places in Japan. It is located within the grounds of Toshunji Temple, about 3 minutes’ walk from Kozan Park. Potter Gakuji Masai founded the kiln in 2021 after studying Yamaguchi’s traditional pottery style, Hagi ware. The gallery has countless pieces of tableware and vases on display, each exuding an individual charm.

Address: 5-27 Mizunouecho, Yamaguchi (inside Toshunji Temple)
Hours: Irregular
Web: https://www.instagram.com/mizunouegama/


12:00 pm – Kissa Churamu

This venerable kissaten coffee shop has a relaxed, retro feel. In addition to coffee and tea, they also serve light meals like curry and pasta perfect for lunch. Enjoy the comforting taste of home cooking.

Address: 1-2-14 Ekidori, Yamaguchi
Hours: 11:30-20:30, closed Thursdays*
Tel: 083-923-6423
*Business hours and days are subject to change, so be sure to check with the store before visiting.
Access from Toshunji Temple: VIEW IN GOOGLE MAPS


2:00 pm – Ichinosakagawa River

After lunch, head to the Ichonosakagawa River for some post-prandial exercise. The popular scenic spot is about 15 minutes from Kissa Churamu by foot. The banks are a beautiful natural oasis in the city, especially during spring when the cherry trees and azaleas are in bloom. If you visit on an early summer evening, you’ll be treated to the sight of fireflies dancing over the water.

Address: Ushirogawara, Yamaguchi



LOG COFFEE ROASTERS is a specialty coffee roaster and café. Located just five minutes’ walk from the river, it makes an excellent spot to take a break after a day of sightseeing. Relax for a bit with one of their wide selection of coffees and lattes, and afterwards you will be well positioned to either carry on exploring or head home. The shop is located in Yamaguchi’s central shopping district and JR Yamaguchi Station is only about 10 minutes away by foot.

Address: 4-14 Nakaichi-cho, Yamaguchi
Hours: 11:00-19:00 (12:00-19:00 on Tuesdays), closed Mondays*
Tel: 083-902-1371
*Business hours and days are subject to change, so be sure to check with the store before visiting.


To read more about why Craig Mod recommends Yamaguchi, see