- About the town of Shonai
What kind of town is Shonai?
The town of Shonai is located almost in the exact center of the Shonai region along the coast of the Japan Sea in Yamagata prefecture.
It is home to the summit of Mt. Gassan, a sacred place of mountain worship and one of the Three Mountains of Dewa (the other two are Mt. Yudono and Mt. Haguro).
Shonai is spread out in the basin of the Mogami River and Tachiyazawa River, which flows from Mt. Gassan and was selected as one of the 100 Exquisite and Well-Conserved Waters of the Heisei period. The town stretches over a long area from the middle of the Shonai Plain to the foot of Mt. Gassan.
Information on the Shonai Town area
In addition to being one of Japan's foremost grain-producing regions, this area comprising the northwestern area of Shonai Town has a thriving commerce and industry. Vestiges of history remain, such as Amarume Hachiman Shrine established in the Nara period, Bontenzuka Burial Mound surmised to be from the 11th century, and the Abo Memorial Tower erected for Abo, who ruled Amarume from the Muromachi to Sengoku periods. These vestiges speak of the enduring history of the region. The area around the JR Amarume Train Station still retains a colorful streetscape that includes a tourist center housed in an 80-year old rice granary called "Classe," a 190-year old soy sauce shop, and a long-established sake brewery.
This area located slightly north of the center of Shonai Town is well-known for the strong winds that blow there. The town has promoted community planning that produces eco-friendly energy by leveraging the stormy "Kiyokawa Dashi" winds that plagued the area for so long. The cluster of wind turbines standing in the rural fields are a sight symbolizing the area. There are many sites to see, including Windome Tachikawa, a facility that promotes understanding of wind and wind power generation; Kitadate Shrine, which enshrines Toshinaga Kitadatedaigaku who dug the Kitadate Dam (the cornerstone of rice production in Shonai Plain); and Tateyama Park, a site well-known for beautiful cherry blossoms in Shonai Town.
This historic neighborhood located almost exactly in the center of Shonai Town still retains numerous well-known sites and traces of the past. There are many objects pertaining to the great general, Yoshitsune such as "Aoba no Fue (The Flute of Green Leaves)" and a prayer book that are found in Goshonooji Shrine, where members of the Yoshitsune clan spent the night. The famous poet, Matsuo Basho sailed down the Mogami River from Motoaikai in Shinjo and disembarked at Kiyokawa to head toward Mt. Haguro. The area is also where Hachiro Kiyokawa, a leader in times leading up to the Meiji Restoration, was born and raised. Gotenbayashi Forest is an old battleground that retains traces of a battle between the Shonai Clan and the new government army fought in the Japanese civil war between Imperial and shogunate forces.
This area comprising the southeastern part of Shonai Town has clear streams stretching from Mt. Gassan in the north to the Tachiyazawa River basin. The clear waters of Tachiyazawa River, which originates from Mt. Gassan and is one of Japan's notable rivers, flow north in the valleys of Dewa while gathering an abundance of spring water and meet up with the Mogami River. Since ancient times, the area has been home to faith in the water god, and there are many monuments to the water god in the basin of Tachiyazawa River. Until the Edo period, the area was also busy as the main approach for the pilgrimage to the Three Mountains of Dewa. The recently improved Ancient Haguro Road can be used to climb Mt. Haguro. Tsuki no Sawa Onsen Kitagassanso is a secluded hot spring lodging deep within the Tachiyazawa River Basin where people come to be soothed.
The allure of Shonai Town
Shonai Town is a rich treasure trove of nature that includes Mt. Gassan, the Tachiyazawa area, and ancient trees of historical interest that have been designated a cultural property. The town flower, the Chocolate Lily, and rare alpine plants can be viewed around the summit of Mt. Gassan.
Anyone can readily enjoy sports at the various sports facilities in Shonai Town.
Both Gallery Onsen Machiyu in town and Tsuki no Sawa Onsen Kitagassanso located in the midst of nature are hot springs that promote beautiful skin.
History and culture
Visitors can get to know the history and culture of the town through historic temples and shrines, highly historic sites, and the achievements of great figures who helped the community and Japan.
Shonai Town has numerous eating establishments to choose from, including ramen shops, diners, and restaurants that serve great-tasting dishes. The extremely high quality of ramen shops impresses even connoisseurs of ramen.
Clear waters, fertile lands, and traditional techniques have produced superb brands from Shonai Town.