Yamaguchi Travel Guide
Set at the western edge of Honshu, Yamaguchi is a place that is often passed through by travellers on their way to Kyushu.
Come check out our Yamaguchi in-depth travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Yamaguchi, Japan.
While Yamaguchi is not as well known as other destinations in Western Honshu, lovers of temples will often make their way here just to visit Rurikoji Temple. This Buddhist hall of worship is known widely for its five-tiered pagoda, which is considered among the best in the entire country.
Completed in the mid 15th century, this complex came into its own during the Edo Period, as it served as the burial place of the Mori clan, which is the group that ruled over the Yamaguchi area during this time.
When you have finished touring temple mainstays like the bell tower and the main hall, check out the small museum on site. While captions are mostly in Japanese (have Google Translate or a Japanese friend on hand to help you with the language barrier), it shows off scale models of all the five-tiered pagodas in Japan and explains the meaning behind how they are designed.
Most people in Japan adhere to either the Buddhist or Shinto faiths. At present, only 0.5% of the population are practising Christians. Yet, there was a time when this religion had a shot at gaining a foothold in this nation.
Back in the mid 16th century, St. Francis Xavier, a famous Jesuit missionary, landed in the Land of the Rising Sun. Determined to convince the locals of the veracity of his faith in God, he travelled between many cities like Kyoto and Kagoshima, but he favoured Yamaguchi over them all, spending several months there.
To recognize this fact, local Christians built St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church in the mid-1950s. It honours the accomplishments of the saint who managed to spread the words of the church throughout Asia and Japan, and shows off various pieces of Christian art.
Jyoei Temple is another Buddhist point of interest that is worth seeing on a visit to Yamaguchi. The buildings of the temple itself are nothing out of the ordinary – its stylish Japanese garden is what draws visitors here.
Water features, rock gardens with formations like concentric circles, and tea houses that overlooks it all are just a few of the things that make this place special. Visit during mid-week, and you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to visit busy gardens in spots like Kyoto.
Learn about the life of one of the best-loved poets from Yamaguchi by spending some time at the Chuya Nakahara Memorial Museum. Some of her best works can be read here, and the garden outside will give you a place to contemplate her words.
Displays are all in Japanese, making translation apps or an in-person translator a must, but even if you aren’t into the place, its modern architecture will ensure your visit isn’t a total loss.
Engage in some forest bathing during your time in Yamaguchi by going on a hike in Chomonkyo Gorge. Boasting a trail that stretches 12 kilometres from its origin point, those looking to get away from it all will find solace from the maddening crowds that are common in Japan and Asia.
Featuring a rocky creek that is enveloped by lush forest on both sides, nature here provides a badly needed counterpoint to the intense urban areas found all across this country.
Originally an expensive restaurant that had been in business for more than 100 years, Saikotei Museum became what it is today starting in 2004. Here, you can immerse yourself into the culture of the Yamaguchi area. Wrap yourself in a kimono, learn how to draw Japanese characters, and enjoy a pot of green tea – all these things are possible here.
Take in the best work that area creatives have made over the years by stopping by The Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art. Opened in 1979, it contains oil paintings, drawings, and photography from Japanese artists like Toyo Sesshu, Yasuo Kazuki, and Katsuji Fukuda.
In addition, it also has a tatami room and special exhibition space, making it a wonderful place for culturally-attuned travellers to visit during their time in Yamaguchi.
Finally, make time to visit one of many Onsens in the Yamaguchi area. Yudaonsen is home to an alkaline spring famed for encouraging beautiful skin, but if its amazing views you are after, check out Aiosou Hot Spring. Situated on a hill high above the Seto Inland Sea, it is a place that needs to be seen to be believed.