The Tohoku region is situated at the northern part of Honshu main island of Japan, covering six prefectures: Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima. Since it is located at a higher altitude, the temperature within the region is usually lower than the others.
Tohoku region is also unique due to the fact that it is connected to two mighty seas: the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Sea, both providing a distinguished climate at its respective coast. The coast of the Sea of Japan is hotter and more humid during summer (June to August) and snowy during winter (December to February). The Pacific coast, on the other hand, has relatively cooler summers and warmer winters with lesser snow volumes.
Thanks to these characteristics, Tohoku region is excellent for curious travellers who wish to experience many of its exciting offerings. From unspoiled rural sceneries, historical wonders, breath-taking mountains and lakes as well as vibrant festivals and winter experience, Tohoku has it all…
To make it easy for you, fellow travellers, we have provided a list of things you can experience in Tohoku based on your travel preferences! Read on and be sure to tick them off when you are in the Tohoku region!
Visit these places if you are… a NATURE LOVER
1. Jodogahama Beach (IWATE)
Apart from famous as a scenic beach, in fact, one of the top 100 beaches in Japan, this tourist spot is also an awesome place for travellers to do stargazing at night!
2. Tsuru-no-Mai Bridge (AOMORI)
At this Japan’s longest triple-arch wooden bridge (300 metres), travellers can view a magical sunrise with the magnificent Mt. Iwaki as the backdrop here at the“dance of the cranes” (English translation for Tsuru-no-Mai) bridge…
3. Aizu Higashiyama Onsen (FUKUSHIMA)
Soak your body and relax your mind in a morning bath at this warm and quality sodium-sulphate onsen, surrounding by a quaint valley.
4. Goshikinuma (FUKUSHIMA)
See for yourself the vibrant, surreal colours of this Michelin Green Guide 1-star-rating group of swamps, as each body of water has its own distinctive hue resulting from various volcanic substances in the water from a volcanic eruption over a century ago, as well as other factors such as seasons, weather of the day, and angles of view.
5. Akita Inu (AKITA)
Akita Inu is one of Japan’s most famous dog breeds and is well-known worldwide, thanks to the Hollywood movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”. They can been seen in various places in Akita but you can start to get to know them more at Akita Dog Visitor Centre or Akita Dog Museum.
6. Godzilla Rock (AKITA)
Catch the silhouette of Japan’s iconic behemoth, Godzilla amidst the rugged coast of Cape Shiosezaki! If you come during sunset, you might be able to capture the fascinating view of the Godzilla rock breathing fire (!) as the sun comes down near to the “mouth” of this creature!
7. Zao Snow Monsters (YAMAGATA)
The top of Mount Zao is filled with snow monsters around mid-February! But do not be afraid, these ‘monsters’ are actually snow-covered pine trees that interestingly take the form of monsters during the cold season. Bring your ski gears, and go down the slopes trying to escape ‘them’…
8. Ginzan Onsen (YAMAGATA)
After a long day exploring places, it is always a good idea to get a warm, relaxing bath at this renowned hot spring, which is popularly known as the place that inspired the bath house in world famous Ghibli movie “Spirited Away”!
Visit these places if you are… a FOODIE
1. Kesennuma (MIYAGI)
While observing the laidback, seaside town, travellers can also devour fresh seafood straight from the sea! Did you know the amount of catches for fresh bonito at this port is ranked the highest in Japan for 24 consecutive years!?
2. Tatehana Wharf Morning Market (AOMORI)
Said to be the largest morning market in Japan with more than 400 stalls selling various produces and goods, this bustling market expects its visitors to come early in the morning and explore local flavours like Takikomi-gohan (Japanese mixed rice) and Udon besides the freshly cooked seafood here before they are all gone as early as by 9AM!
3. Koiwai Farm (IWATE)
Milk a cow, ride a horse or take the restored horse tramway, watch the sheep-and-dog show and more – seriously, travellers can do a lot here! But do not miss trying the rich soft ice cream made from the farm’s fresh milk and eggs!
4. Genbikei Gorge (IWATE)
Watch how the iconic dango (Japanese traditional sticky rice ball) being delivered to customers using a rope across the river, and hence, earning its famous name, “flying dango”. And while at it, why not order some for yourself!
5. Iwate Noodle Dishes: Wanko Soba (IWATE)
Try out (or should we say… challenge yourself) on Iwate’s signature food, wanko soba. The aim is to eat the noodles as many bowls as you can! You can earn yourself a certificate if you complete 100 bowls or so in one setting and some restaurants’ records are holding at 500 and even more!
6. Fruits Picking (YAMAGATA)
Rightfully known as the fruit kingdom, Yamagata is famous for producing many high quality fruits such as peaches, apples, & La France pears! It also has quite a lot of cherries orchards so try picking and tasting them all while you’re here!
7. Kiritanpo (AKITA)
While you are in this land of rice, taste the local speciality of Akita, kiritanpo (toasted, half-smashed rice)! It tastes even better when it’s served in hotpot or kiritanpo-nabe during winter!
8. Miyagi Gourmet Street (MIYAGI)
Be spoiled over many selections of food available here, especially tantalising local delicacies such as beef tongue and Kinki, a high-quality fish, even at late night!
9. Kitakata Ramen (FUKUSHIMA)
Named as one of the three Japan’s most famous ramens, this traditional dish is a must-eat when in the region! The noodle goes well with any sort of soup in a wide variety of flavours, so do not forget to try them out when you are here!
Visit these places if you are… an INSTAGRAM ROYALTY
1. Tadami Line (FUKUSHIMA)
Enjoy a scenic train ride that runs across Aizu and passes through some of Japan’s earliest and untouched panorama. Catch a glimpse of the winter wonderland, or colors of spring, or lush greens of the summer, or burning red foliage of autumn; Tadami line has something to offer in every season!
2. Shiroishi Castle Samurai Armor Wearing Experience (MIYAGI)
Dress up like a samurai, from gauntlets to torso plate and helmet, before learning how to draw and hold the sword! Transform yourself into a 1-day samurai and feudal lord at Shiroishi Castle!
3. Hirosaki Park (AOMORI)
Time stood still in at this world-recognized spot for sakura as the cherry blossoms in full glory in April to May each year…
4. SENDAI Pageant of Starlight (MIYAGI)
Experience the spectacular night of the largest winter illumination in the Tohoku region!
Visit these places if you are… a CULTURAL CONNOISSEUR
1. Risshakuji Temple (Yamadera) (YAMAGATA)
Hike up to this ancient temple, on around one thousand steps of paved, stone stairways and enjoy the bucolic views with stunning pagodas that will ultimately enchant travellers throughout all four seasons.
2. Namahage Sedo Festival (AKITA)
Be entertained with a cultural performance that combines the folklore of ‘Namahage’ (demon-liked ogre that frighten badly behaved kids) and the sacred Shinto ritual of ‘Saitousai’.
3. Aomori Nebuta Festival (AOMORI)
Catch the colourful parade of gigantic lantern floats accompanied by dancers and musicians playing traditional instruments, including taiko drums here at one of the top three festivals of Tohoku, Japan.
Every hour, Tohoku region is bustling with actions that are ideal for travellers of varying traits and preferences. For a glimpse of those actions, watch this TOHOKU 24 video or browse this website.