We studied the habitat preferences of breeding Yellow Buntings Emberiza sulphurata, taking into account the effects of paddyfield abandonment in hilly rural areas within the heavy snow region of northern Japan. Across 30 transects located in valley bottoms, we investigated the relationship between Yellow Bunting abundance and landscape characteristics. The results of generalized linear mixed models showed that forest edge density and landslide sites positively affected Yellow Bunting abundance. These habitats were associated with bush vegetation (forest edge, shrub land, and tall grassland) and were adjacent to the forest. Paddyfield abandonment showed a hump-shaped effect with a peak at the middle succession stage, which was covered primarily with tall grass and some shrubs, but the effect on Yellow Bunting abundance was not statistically significant. To conserve Yellow Bunting habitats in hilly rural areas, it is necessary to protect the forest edge and landslide sites from urbanisation and exploitation. It is also necessary to continue crop cultivation in such areas, to maintain the edges between open land and forest. If cultivation can no longer be continued, the abandoned paddyfields should be kept bushy, using reed beds and shrubs, by active management.