Almost every prefecture in Japan I visit, I try to take a local train ride in order to get a feel for how ordinary people live everyday. I really enjoy walking up and down the aisle of each compartment, taking in the scenery, and people watching. What's also interesting is that when you board the trains this far out in Japan you have to press a button on the outside of the compartment in order for the doors to open. It's the same when you exit too; you also need to press the button from the inside in order to exit. Unlike in Kanto where the doors open automatically on every train line. Also at every stop you get a two minute break. Another thing, when you board these trains you must enter from the rear and exit from the front -same with buses.
At my stop there was a small problem with an elderly man who was hard of hearing. He tried to board the train from the front! The train conductor was shouting at him at the top of his lungs in an attempt to get the old man to board from the rear, not from the front. For me it was so funny because it was my stop, so I just sat there and looked at this whole scene between the train conductor and this old man go off. The old guy had a leg problem so the faster he walked the more he hobbled. The louder the train conductor shouted the faster this old man would walk, almost to the point where he was slobbering all over himself. And then everybody in the train including myself laughed. And this made the train conductor even more livid! He told everybody on the train to shut up then he slammed the door and closed the curtains. I think he deals with elderly people on a daily basis and probably encounters a lot of the same on a daily basis.
I love Yamagata. I love it because there's absolutely nothing to do but sleep and eat here. And make babies. Don't listen to the statistics, there's lots of baby making going on out here in inaka, forget the big cities.