One of my birthday presents was the DVD of Japanese movie "Okuribito" (Departures). It was filmed on location around Yamagata prefecture, including a few locations in Yuza-machi itself. The official movie website is here.
The mountain in this movie still is, of course, Mt Chokai. The fields in the background are only a short cycle ride from my old house. This is in spring, when the rice fields are flooded.
The same view of Mt Chokai from my friend's car, in July 2006.
The design and direction of the movie emphasises a very nostalgic view of Yamagata, presenting a world that already seemed old fashioned when I worked there nearly twenty years ago - places like the dark bar/kissaten inherited by the lead character, the business premises and the sento bath can still be found around there though. These are not at all like the kind of Japanese buildings and interiors that most non-Japanese imagine, but they remind me of places I've been.
The countryside around Shonai is one of the real stars of the movie.
1 hour ago