Yonezawa, in the southern part of Yamagata
Prefecture, is a central city in the Yonezawa
Basin, and was the capital of the distinguished
Uesugi family's fief since the 17th century. In
the city you can find Uesugi-Jinja Shrine in the
ruins of Yonezawa Castle, Uesugi-ke Go-byosho
(Uesugi Family Mausoleum), and other historic
sites related to the Uesugi family. There is also
a row of old houses and samurai residences along
one of the city streets. The traditional
techniques of Yonezawa textile weaving and sake
(rice wine) brewing have continued to be followed
on to the present day.
The Yonezawa Historical Textile Museum exhibits fine quality Yonezawa pongee. Here, you can learn the history of how the textile industry encouraged young men and women of good families to participate as one of the policies for promoting production. It was developed as a domestic industry, and elevated the region's status to that of one of the greatest textile weaving centers in Japan. At the Sasano Folk Craft Museum, you can watch traditional Sasano wood carving, which is done using just one unique knife. You can also paint hawk carvings called Otaka (hawk) Poppo if you book in advance.
At the Uesugi-matsuri Festival held in mid-spring, history is reenacted during a mock battle at Kawanaka-jima where a dozen or so mounted warriors and hundreds of armor-clad warriors participate in the traditional rituals of Japan's Warring State Period of the 16th century. The festival is always crowded with spectators.
Famous Yonezawa beef is considered to be among the highest quality Japanese beef. You can savor it in the form of 'sukiyaki,' steak or 'shabu-shabu' (a hot pot dish). Commemorative souvenirs are readily available, such as safflower-based lipsticks and soap, Yonezawa textile kimonos, and other small items.