Foxes, Onsen and Temples: Winter in Yamagata

Yamagata is such a beautiful place, particularly for a mountain nut like me. I have gone through Yamagata and the places in this itinerary, but I plan to go back, all thanks to the JR East Welcome Pass. In doing so, here's my draft itinerary and budget.   

Budget: JPY35,740 (~USD340)
  • JPY20,300. Saturday, Zao Fox Village and Yamadera
  • JPY14,000. Sunday, Zao Onsen
  • JPY1,440. Monday, Ginzan Onsen
  • *Food not included
Saturday, Zao Fox Village and Yamadera
  • JPY12,000. JR East Welcome Rail Pass 2020.
  • JPY3,000. Accommodations, Yamagata Grand Hotel (Breakfast Included)
  • JPY4,000. Taxi, shared between 2 people. (JPY4,000 one way)
  • JPY1,000. Entrance fee, Zao Fox Village.
  • JPY300. Entrance fee, Yamadera. 
  • 06:12am. Bullet train, Tokyo Station to Shiroishi (Miyagi) Station.
  • 08:39am. ETA: Shiroishi Station (no need to get into the earliest train, as the village opens at 9am). Take taxi to the village, around JPY4,000 one way. 
  • 09:00am. ETA: Zao Fox Village. 
  • Play with the foxes.
  • 10:00am. Taxi, Zao Fox Village to Shiroishi Station. Trains to Yamagata are at 10:34, 11:10am, 11:31am, 12:02pm or 12:30pm.
  • 10:34am. Train, Shiroishi Station to Yamagata Station.
  • 12:44pm. ETA: Yamagata Station. 
  • 01:00pm. Check in, etc. 
  • 01:55pm. Train, Yamagata Station to Yamadera Station. Next train is at 2:56pm, with ETA of 3:14pm. 
  • 02:14pm. ETA: Yamadera Station. During winter, they will only let people in until 3:30pm, so it may be a bit of a tight deadline. Yamadera closes at 4pm. 
Sunday, Zao Onsen / Zao Hike
  • JPY2,000. Bus, Yamagata Station to Zao-onsen Bus Terminal (JPY1,000 one way) 
  • JPY3,000. Ropeway, roundtrip (or one way if skiing down)
  • JPY5,000. Lift tickets, assuming skiing.
  • JPY3,000. Accommodations, Yamagata Grand Hotel (Breakfast Included)
  • JPY1,000. Onsen fee. 
  • 07:40am. Bus, Yamagata Station to Zao-onsen Bus Terminal. The earliest bus leaves at 6:50am, but no need to board that as the ropeway operates from 8:30am. 
  • 08:17am. ETA: Zao-onsen Bus Terminal.
  • 08:30am. Ropeway to the top. Summit.
  • Ski the rest of the day.
  • 04:20pm. Bus, Zao-onsen BusTerminal to Yamagata Station. (Return buses at 1:20pm, 2:20pm, 3:20pm, 4:20pm, 5:20pm, 6:40pm and the last one, 7:50pm)
  • 05:05pm. ETA: Yamagata Station. 
Monday, Ginzan Onsen
  • JPY1,440. Bus, Oishi Station < > Ginzan Onsen (JPY720 one way)
  • 08:59am. Bullet train, Yamagata Station to Oishida Station.
  • 09:40am. ETA: Oishida Station
  • 09:50am. Bus, Oishida Station (大石田駅) to Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉)
  • 10:26am. ETA: Ginzan Onsen.
  • Explore Onsen area. 
  • 01:25pm. Bus, Ginzan Onsen to Oishida Station.
  • 02:10pm. ETA: Oishida Station.
  • 02:39pm. Train, Ginzan Onsen to Yamagata Station (or back to Tokyo)