In fiscal year 2014 the number of tourists visiting Yamagata Prefecture surged 12.4% from the previous year, peaking at 4,517,000 according to the prefecture's tourism survey. Thanks to the results of a very successful prefecture destination campaign from June to September, the 4.5 million tourist goal was easily completed. Tourists traveling within Yamagata Prefecture increased 15.4% to 2,545,000. This number could be misleading as the prefecture's entire population is less than 2 million. Basically, it means tourists are counted multiple times when they travel and, overall, people are traveling more around their prefecture. There is also an 8.9% increase of visitors from outisde the prefecture for a total of 1,971,000. That number includes visitors from abroad and those living in other prefectures in Japan.
The higher than expected numbers hide the fact that 2014 was a difficult year for Yamagata tourism. Unfavorable summertime weather conditions resulted in a 22% decrease in beach attendance compared to 2013. Furthermore a significant number of ski enthusiasts and hot spring lovers, a total of 10% from the previous year, avoided the famous Zao Mountain Range as its volcano was at risk of erupting for several weeks.
Yamagata Prefecture boasts tourist hotspots such as the mountain temple Yamadera, the world's largest jellyfish aquarium, the sacred peaks of mountain priests Dewa Sanzan, and the "snow monsters" found during icy winters.
Source: Kahoku Shimpo