Nicknamed the “Kyoto of the West”, Yamaguchi is a culturally-rich city in the far west of Honshu. It’s renowned for its Buddhist temples and wooden Shinto shrines, as well as a church that honours the 16th-century introduction of Christianity to Japan.
Things to do in Yamaguchi
Admire the 15th-century pagoda of the Rurikoji Buddhist temple, then visit its small museum detailing the five-storey pagodas that dot Japan. Follow the Uguisubari Stone Pavement that’s renowned for producing a unique clap echo resembling the Japanese bush warbler.
Visit the Joeiji, a Zen temple that features a garden built by the artist and monk Sesshu to resemble one of his landscape paintings. Take note of its vertical rock arrangements that were characteristic of the Muromachi Period and explore the temple’s traditional tatami rooms, then take in the sweeping garden views along the circular pathway.
Visit the "Ise Shrines of the West” at the Yamaguchi Daijingu, which were built from the early-16th century on the outskirts of the city. The wooden shrines exhibit a pure Japanese architectural style and were created to house the same deities as those at Ise so locals could worship them much closer to home.
Learn about the arrival of Christianity in Japan at the St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church, built in 1550 to commemorate the Kagoshima to Kyoto mission of Francis Xavier. Its striking modern architecture houses a museum containing religious paintings, clothing and iconography, as well as historic maps of Japan.
Getting around Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi Ube Airport is a 40-minute drive from the city, which is 4.5 hours by Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo. Trains travel through Yamaguchi, but most of the attractions are within walking or cycling distance of the main station.