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An unassuming rural town, Yonezawa was once the grand castle home of the Uesugi clan during the 14-17 Centuries. Unfortunately for them they picked the wrong side in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and were ceremonially punished to being irrelevant in the whole scheme of things with their lands reduced to almost nothing. In 1873 the castle was actually flattened. The haunting remnant of this once powerful family is now the moat, which is the focal point of the city and the Uesugi Shrine built in honor of this historical clan.
Sitting on the railway line between Tokyo and Yamagata, you can jump a train in Tokyo and be in Yonezawa in just over 2 hours. The train station, for some quirky reason, is about 2 kilometers from the city core and on the wrong side of the river of this spread out town.
There isn't much to keep anyone in the town. However there are 7 hot springs that you can wallow in outside of the city limits. You can gorge yourself on fatty slices of Yonezawa beef cooked sukiyaki style, as this is the definitive place in Japan for beef. Beware of succumbing to the temptation of cheap bento boxes, as all you will get for your trouble is gristly leftovers of the prime cuts. Head to one of the specialist restaurants and down your succulent mouthful of beef with the local sake tipple that has been brewed in Yonezawa since 1597 and now run by the 23rd generation of the same family.
Part of the city is actually within the borders of the Bandai-Asahi National Park, so when you are full of meat and sake, head to the hills for a hike and check out the Namegawa Great Falls.
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