Tohoku flaunts an intoxicating blend of pristine nature, charismatic culture and ancient history, all delightfully packaged into a region that’s easily accessible from Tokyo.
Located in the north-eastern corner of Japan’s largest island, Honshu, Tohoku is comprised of six prefectures: Akita, famous for its flowing rivers and fertile, rice-growing fields and rich samurai history; Aomori, home of the world’s largest virgin forest of beech tree and the colourful Aomori Nebuta Festival; Iwate, known for its excellent onsens, sake and autumnal colours; Fukushima, home of Japan’s best fruit and sake; Miyagi, praised for its amazing seafood and Shiroishi Castle; and Yamagata, the place to get stuck into stunning nature.
It’s easily reachable from Tokyo on the Tohoku Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station. Alternatively, it’s a short flight away from either of the two Tokyo airports.
Here’s what you can do and where you can stay in this northern gem.
AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH
Put on your hiking shoes and trek through an unimaginable landscape, otherwise known as the Shirakami Sanchi mountain range in Aomori.
Not only is this national park a hiker’s paradise with multiple trails, gushing streams and roaring waterfalls, placid lakes and gorges, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site – so you know you’re in for a treat! Look out for the black bears and Japanese serow (goat-antelope).
PRETTY AS A PICTURE
Take a scenic boat ride through the two-kilometre-long Geibi Gorge in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, and see just how much beauty it takes for a place to be officially designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty. Hint: a lot.
This stunning section of Tohoku was also selected as one of the 100 Landscapes of Japan back in 1927 as it pretty much contains those quintessentially Japanese elements of visual beauty – you know, the ones you see in old watercolour paintings?
Want to know what makes this 90-minute boat journey even better? Being serenaded with traditional local folk music sung by the boatman himself.
Alternately, why not don your sailor’s hat and sail around the 260 pine-class islands in Matsushima Bay, considered one of Japan’s Three Great Views?
Located just a little over half an hour outside of Sendai, Matsushima Bay is celebrated as the place to get the finest oysters in the region.
KING OF THE CASTLE
You should also visit Hirosaki Castle in Aomori, which is the last remaining castle from the Edo period in the entire region, built in 1611.
Try and visit during cherry blossom season (from mid to late April) to see the castle at its most gorgeous.
To discover more about Tohoku and the many things you can experience there, visit the website here.
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