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No.231 (3/8/13)

Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata

By Nao H. Kauffman
Chief Editor

In the 16th century, Obanazawa in Yamagata Prefecture prospered after the discovery of silver mines and continued to grow through the Edo Period. Although all the mines in the area were closed in 1642, the city was still thriving as a popular onsen (hot spring) area with old historical and elegant wooden built hotels called Ryokan . A river splits two sides of the street with these stately ryokans, several bridges over the river, and many gas lights on the street creating a distinguished atmosphere. With lots of green in spring and summer, autumn foliage, and white snow in winter, visitors can enjoy the romantic allurements of this old historical city and its seasonal beauty. There are three public baths called Shiroganeyu, Kajikayu, Omokageyu for reasonable fees along the river and each ryokan offers a private onsen. There is a “foot onsen” called Warashiyu open all year round for free. After exploring the waterfall in town, visitors can rest by putting their tired feet in this foot onsen. They can also visit a silver mine cave during the day by walking about 15 minutes from this area (except in the winter time). It is open for free to the public and it is not surprising to see people strolling around the area in Japanese traditional onsen sleepwear called yukata . Toward the end of August, Hanagasa Matsuri, a famous summer dance festival in Yamagata, where people dress up in festival costumes with hats of decorated colorful flowers takes place. Moreover, this place was used to film the Japanese old television show, “ Oshin. ” Now the show is going to come back as a movie by shooting it at the movie village in the article above. Soon, Ginzan Onsen will be in the spotlight again!

Syonai Eigamura ( Shonai Movie Village )

By Emiko S.
Staff Writer

Syonai Eigamura is located on Mt. Gassan in Yamagata prefecture. It was established with the help from local people with the aim of making Shonai the Japanese Hollywood. Its area is 88-hectare open set. It is in the intermountain outdoor and surrounded by great nature and mountain.

Syonai Eigamura is not only for movies, but also has been open to public since 2009. They have farming village, fishing village and post station of the Edo period (1603-1867).

Yamagata prefecture is strongly associated with the movies. It supported the production of the 2008 film Departure. It won the Academy Award for Best foreign Language Film at the 81 st Oscars.

They have some fun activities in the open set. There is sword fighting, puppet plays, treasure hunting, shooting a bow, beating a Japanese drum and you can also borrow a kimono free of charge. And there is the Syonai Eigamura museum. It takes 20 minutes drive from Syonai Eigamura open set. It has the costume, items, pictures, acting scripts has been used of the movies that Syonai Eigamura had supported. Shonai Eigamura has already helped to make a total of ten theatrical films.

There are more than 2500 registrants as volunteer's movie extra from the local area. And there are more than 50 translators for the foreign visitors. Shonai Eigamura and local people are thus bound by strong ties.

Access: Take Highway Tohoku Jidosyado. At Kitakami JCT take Akita Jidosyado for Akita and Yokote. Get off at Yokote IC exit. Take Route 13 toward south and you will hit Route 47, make right on Route 47, take Route 345 and then take route 44. You will see the sign of Shonai Eigamura. Follow the sign.

Admission: Syonai Eigamura open set Adult: 1,600yen Junior high and high school students: 1,300yen Elementary school students: 1,000yen

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