Located in the northern area of Japan’s Honshu island, the Tohoku region is perfect for families to enjoy unique experiences and activities in Autumn since it is rich in natural landscapes, breathtaking sceneries, local produce, and culture!
In this article, we would like to introduce Fukushima, Iwate, and Akita prefectures, including Sendai City, which are all part of the Tohoku region.
By the way, to conveniently explore Tohoku region, overseas travellers holding non-Japanese passports and entering Japan as a Temporary Visitor are recommended to purchase the JR EAST PASS, which offers five days of unlimited travel on trains and Shinkansen throughout the region!
What to experience in FUKUSHIMA prefecture:
Fruit-picking and savouring fruit parfait at Marusei orchard garden in Fukushima City
Get the chance to pick a variety of fruits throughout the year at this eight-hectare orchard, including buying a variety of fresh fruits in season as a souvenir. While you are here, be sure to enjoy the enriching parfait made from fruit at the orchard’s Mori-no-Garden cafe!
Learning Kyudo at the Aizu clan school Nisshinkan in Aizuwakamatsu City
As the place that produced elite members of society during the Edo period, travellers are sure to find Aizu Clan’s highest education institution, Nisshinkan, an unrivalled cultural experience. These days, there are many classes that travellers can join at the Nisshinkan, but the most unique is kyudo (Japanese martial art of archery), which even the most inexperienced persons can benefit from this highly engaging activity.
Picking up Akabeko-painting skill at Tsurugajo Castle in Aizuwakamatsu City
Being a popular tourist attraction in Aizuwakamatsu city, Tsurugajo Castle is also the place where travellers can pick up the skill in painting the cute akabeko (traditional toy cow), famous for its strange neck-wobbling motion.
How to get to FUKUSHIMA prefecture:
With the JR EAST PASS, you can get from Tokyo to Fukushima City in just 90 min by Shinkansen.
What to experience in IWATE prefecture:
Embarking on Sappa Boat Adventure in Tanohata Village and exploring Jodogahama Blue Grotto in Miyako City)
You have not visited Iwate prefecture if you skip the wondrous Sanriku coast. And in what better way for you to admire the coast’s beauty other than from a small sappa boat used by Sanriku fishermen for fishing? To do so, travellers should proceed to Tanohata Village and embark on the Sappa Boat Adventure to view the majestic Kitayamazaki cliffs from the waters, or to Miyako City to appreciate the beautiful strange rocks and explore a blue cave at Jodogahama Beach.
Getting educated about disasters at Sanriku Railway
First began operation in 1984, Sanriku Railway is Japan’s longest private sector railway line, which has made an impressive comeback from the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. In addition to bringing travellers to Miyako, Tanohata, and spots along the Sanriku Coast for them to adore spectacular views, the railway organises various events, including the “educational experience train for earthquake disaster” that enlightens travellers on ways to survive calamities.
Creating Art Using Own Hands at Morioka Handi-Works Square
Travellers can channel their creativity through their hands by participating in any of the handmaking workshops at Morioka Handi-Works Square, besides observing experienced craftsmen’s techniques and traditional craftsmanship, including the production of local food and sweets. This is where a magariya (crooked house) built in the late Edo period is displayed for posterity.
Slurping on wanko soba in Morioka City and Hanamaki City
Feasting on hearty wanko soba noodles that are served in small bowls is a must when travellers are in Iwate. Travellers should challenge themselves to see how long they can keep eating wanko soba noodles bowl after bowl while enjoying the accompanying condiments.
Imbibing Sekino-ichi craft beer and following the Sake Brewery Night Tour in Ichinoseki City
Sekino-ichi is a brewery that has been in operation since 1918, which is renowned for its highly methodical brewing techniques in producing high-quality sake and craft beer. Travellers should take the time to follow an intriguing tour around Taisho brewery to learn about the brewery’s history and architecture, and culminate it by tasting the brewery’s craft beer and hearty meal at an adjacent restaurant.
How to get to IWATE prefecture:
With the JR EAST PASS, you can get from Tokyo to Ichinoseki City in just 160 minutes or 145 minutes to Morioka by Shinkansen.
What to experience in AKITA prefecture:
Interacting with Akita dogs at Akita Dog Visitor Centre in Odate City and Enishi Guesthouse
Akita prefecture is synonymous for its iconic Akita inu (dog), which are large, hardy, adamantly loyal to their masters or owners and possess adorable features. Travellers will have the chance to learn more about Akita dogs and observe one of them live when visiting the Akita Dog Visitor Centre in Odate City. Another place where travellers can spend time up close and personal with Akita dogs is at Enishi, old private home in the Kakunodate Bukeyashiki area.
Frolicking around Kakunodate Historical Village and donning kimono at Aoyagi Manor in Senboku City
Kakunodate is dubbed as the ‘small Kyoto’ of the Tohoku region due to its charmingly quaint and wistful atmosphere that has not changed much since its founding in 1620. Travellers who happen to be here should also swing by Aoyagi-ke that is blessed with tranquil gardens and shrines, including well-maintained warehouses and various other structures, perfect for photography. Don’t forget to rent a kimono and have your picture taken with the splendid grounds of the Aoyagi family’s splendid house as background.
Riding Rail Bike at Kosaka Railway Rail Park in Kosaka Town, Shikaku County
When being in Akita prefecture, riding the rail bike at the disused Kosaka Railway is a must-do activity. At the Kosaka Railway Rail Park, travellers can enjoy riding on the rail bike in the station and even go onboard a dolly for sightseeing.
Embarking the Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway
Operating the line between Takanosu and Kakunodate, Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway ferries travellers along the rail track to witness wonderful rice field art and beautiful, unspoiled nature, including the colours of autumnal foliage.
How to get to AKITA prefecture:
With the JR EAST PASS, you can get from Tokyo to Akita in just 220 min by Shinkansen.
What to experience in SENDAI City:
Doing stand-up paddling (SUP) at Surfer’s Island
In October, travellers should head to Surfer’s Island and partake in stand-up paddling (SUP) over calm waters to appreciate the breathtaking scenery around Matsushima islands in a relaxing manner. There is also a gorge and waterfall strolling SUP tour provided by a separate company if travellers are interested.
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Making fish cakes on bamboo grass at Kanezaki Sasakama-kan
At Kanezaki Sasakama-kan, both children and adults can make – and eventually eat – handmade sasa (bamboo grass) kamaboko (fish cake). This is also the place where travellers can create miniature ornaments for Tanabata, which means “Evening of the Seventh” or the “Star Festival” to commemorate the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi who are lovers while learning about the history of the Sendai Tanabata Festival.
Nikka Whisky Miyagikyo Distillery
Being one of the world’s rare distilleries that produce malt and grain whiskey, this factory allows travellers to be immersed in the world of whiskey derived from pristine and lush natural surroundings.
How to get to SENDAI City:
With the JR EAST PASS, you can get from Tokyo to Sendai in just 100 min by Shinkansen.
The Tohoku region of Japan is known for its seas, mountains and its natural beauty. In the post-COVID-19 era, it is possible to visit the region minus the crowds compared to the suburbs of major cities. In addition, Japanese Shinkansen trains are equipped with special air conditioning and ventilation systems to ensure that the air inside the passenger cars is always refreshed every 6 to 8 minutes.
For more info on Tohoku, read here: Travel to Tohoku