“Ginzan Onsen” is a secluded hot-spring town in the mountains of Yamagata prefecture. It has many historic wooden “ryokans” (Japanese styled inns) and beautiful red bridges along the Ginzan River. Steamy crystal clear water runs through the river. The area is photogenic and is filled with lovely retro-flavored atmosphere. With the gas lamps lined up along the river banks, the best time to explore the town is obviously at night. They evoke nostalgic feelings. Especially in winter, piles of snow add more taste to the scene. “Ginzan” literally means a silver mountain in Japanese. The area had a silver mine which was discovered over 500 years ago during the early Edo Period. You can enjoy a slow romantic walk up to the silver mine along the river which is very calm and peaceful. However, the path to further mine is only passable when there is no snow. Not far from the entrance to a silver mine, you can also see a spectacular 22-meter-high waterfall at the back of the town.
The town became very popular after the famous TV drama “Oshin” was aired on NHK in the early 80’s. The drama is about a girl named “Oshin,” who was born in a very poor rural family living near “Ginzan Onsen.” The struggles in her childhood and her hard work to achieve fame and success in her later years touched a string in people’s heart. It was aired in 68 countries as well as Japan. The drama caused a social phenomenon and even created a word “Oshindrome.” This secluded town is now apparently one of the prettiest hot-spring areas in Japan and attracts many visitors from all around the world.
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