Onigiri Rice Ball Mountain: CHITOSE-YAMA (Mt. Chitose)


Hiking Guide to the mountains of Yamagata Prefecture



Chitose-yama is a triangular rice-ball shaped mountain in Yamagata City famous for its red pine forest, and the legend of Akoya-hime, Princess Akoya.

Located in the east of Yamagata city, the 471 m high Chitose-yama is easily noticeable from anywhere in the city due to its triangular onigiri rice ball shape. Chitose-Yama is famous as a red pine forest certified as a forest for recreational use. The impeccable views of natural features surrounding the mountain such as the water and greenery are also very well-known.

Chitose-yama’s trails are well maintained and even elementary school students have picnics there and junior high school students use the mountain for training. Many locals love Chitose-yama. There is even a legend about Akoya-hime and the spirit of an old pine.

Chitose-yama Koen (park) Trail (45 minutes one-way)

The Chitose-yama Koen trail starts in the park to the west of the mountain. The ascent is up a zigzagging trail through the red pine forest. There is a lookout at the summit from where you get a view of Yamagata City.

There is a paved road leading all the way up to the park, but take note as it is steep and can get slippery.

Chitose-yama Inari Jinja Sando Trail (50 minutes one-way)

The Inari Jinja Sando Trail leaves from the approach to Chitose-yama Inari Jinja (Inari Shrine) to the north west of the mountain. Climb up the approach on the stone stairway through the vermillion Torii gates and once past the Jinja, you’ll meet with the Chitose-yama Koen Trail.

There is a paved road right up to the Konyaku-ya carpark, where ten cars can park.

Bansho-ji Temple Trail (50 minutes one-way)

The Bansho-ji trail starts at Bansho-ji Temple to the north east of Chitose-yama. The Bansho-ji Trail weaves through the red pine forest and other forests up a wooden stairway. At Bansho-ji Temple there is a sad love story about princess Akoya and the spirit of an old pine. This trail can take you past where the second generation Akoya pine planted by the Emperor lies.

There is space for about 10 cars to park at Bansho-ji temple.

Places nearby to check out

Upside-down Sake Cup Mountain: SAKAZUKI-YAMA (Mt. Sakazuki)

Sakazuki-yama is an upside-down sake cup mountain in the middle of Yamagata City with great views and a famous shrine at the summit.

Togami-yama (Tokami-yama)

Togami-yama is a triangular mountain that was the location of one of Japan’s fiercest battles, and was the reason why Yamagata Castle was named Kajo.


Mt. Chitose, Mt. Chitose-yama, Mt. Chitoseyama, Chitoseyama

Chitose-yama is a triangular rice-ball shaped mountain in Yamagata City famous for its red pine forest, and the legend of Akoya-hime, Princess Akoya.


Chitose-yama (千歳山ちとせやま) is a 471m (1545 ft.) peak in the Murayama region of Yamagata prefecture open year-round. Chitose-yama is a level 1 in terms of physical demand, which means it is easy to hike, has an A technical grade, which means it requires little expertise, and you want to allow at least 90 minutes for a hike.

Mountain Range





471m (1545 ft.)

Technical Demand

A (requires little expertise)

Physical Demand

1 (easy to hike)


Three: 1) Chitose-yama Koen (park) Trail (45 minutes one-way), 2) Chitose-yama Inari Jinja Sando Trail (50 minutes one-way), 3) Bansho-ji Temple Trail (50 minutes one-way)

Best time to climb

Open year-round

Day trip possible?


Minimum Time Required

45 minutes one-way on the Chitose-yama Koen Trail


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