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Embrace The Natural Beauty of Tohoku

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North of Japan's largest island, Honshu, is the Tohoku region. The Tohoku region is a beautiful place made up of six prefectures full of lush forests, natural hot springs and culinary delights. Tohoku will never disappoint travelers in search of an idyllic countryside escape.
Here are some Tohoku’s highlights that you cannot miss.


Famous Spring Cherry Blossoms

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One of Japan’s top Cherry blossom viewing places is in the Tohoku region. The Kitakami city in Iwate prefecture is quite famous for the 10,000 plus cherry trees planted alongside the Kitakami River in Kitakami City Park Tenshochi. In late April during the Cherry blossom season take a horse drawn carriage in the park or just stroll through a tunnel of white cherry blossoms along the 1.2-mile walkway. Alternatively, enjoy a panoramic view of the blossoms from a boat while cruising down the Kitakami River. The park is also home to about 100,000 azalea trees, which flourish after the cherry blossom season.

For more information, visit here.

 

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There are over 1,000 cherry blossoms planted around one of Fukushima’s most famous landmarks, Tsuruga-jo Castle. The castle offers breathtaking scenery and attracts many visitors. The five-storied castle displays a beautiful red tile roof. Exploring the inside of the castle unveils a historical museum. The view from the top floor commands a superb observation of the castle town and Mt Bandai, a distinct symbol of the region.

For more information, visit here.


Great Summer Festivals

The Tohoku region is great for summer festivals. The Tohoku Sandai Matsuri, or "Three Great Festivals," is a prodigious way to immerse yourself in the local culture by joining in the summer festivities Japanese-style.

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Residents of Aomori, on Mutsu Bay, spend the year constructing spectacular 16 feet tall Nebuta floats for the spellbinding Nebuta Matsuri Festival in early August. Hailed as the most colorful festival in Japan, the floats, depicting mythical characters and Samurai, illuminate from within, throwing brilliant colors over streets and onlookers. This is a magnificent way to participate in a Japanese festival.

For more information, visit here.

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A quick train ride south takes you to the Kanto Matsuri Festival, in Akita held on August 3- 6.This vivid festival traditionally implores the gods for a successful harvest. As the sun goes down, the streets come to life with parades of men, accompanied by flutes and drums, hoisting towering Kanto poles in the air. The poles can reach 40 feet tall and hold up to 46 candlelit paper lanterns that symbolize grains of rice. This is an immense feat of skill and a spectacular sight, with more than 200 Kanto lanterns lighting up each night of the festival.

For more information, visit here.

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Farther south, in Sendai, a massive fireworks display kicks off three days of partying and pageantry at the time-honored Tanabata Matsuri Festival. The festival is one of the largest and most thrilling in Japan, held every year on August 6-8. All of Sendai comes alive with thousands of handcrafted rainbow-colored streamers. An exhilarating program of parades, performances, dancing, food and breathtaking illuminations make this an absolute must-see event.

For more information, visit here.


Relax in Natural Hot Springs

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No visit to Tohoku is complete without experiencing a hot spring. Nestled in the foot of Mt. Nyutou in Akita prefecture is Nyutou Onsenkyo. Consisting of seven hot spring Inns scattered throughout the area, surrounded by a Japanese beech tree forest and abundant with wild nature makes it a wonderful place to visit. The region is also famous for cuisines using mountain vegetables. A Shuttle bus service stops at all hot spring Inns in the area. Tsurunoyu is the oldest place among these seven hot springs. The place features four baths including an open-air bath and each bath comes from a different well with a different composition. Experience various healing water and relax in the soothing natural hot springs.

For more information, visit here.


Explore Wild Nature

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Shirakami-Sanchi in Tohoku is a World Heritage site with approximately 130,000 hectares of extensive woodland and mountainous terrain. This is one of the largest remaining area of virgin beech forest in East Asia and the home of exclusive wildlife like black bears and Japanese antelope. Wander along the forest tracks to discover spectacular lakes, waterfalls and a wide range of indigenous plants and animals.

For more information, visit here.

Discover Lake Towada-ko situated on the border between the Aomori and Akita prefectures. The lake created by volcanic activities displays clear blue water that reflects the sky and surrounding mountains like a mirror. Panoramic views from a number of look out points are breathtaking. The best way to explore the lake is by sightseeing boats. Walk along the promenade of the Oirase Mountain Stream that flows out from the Eastern shore of the lake. Stroll along the trail covered by dense forests containing white cedar, Japanese beech, comforting waterfalls and mossy rocks.

For more information, visit here.

 

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Rice field in Niigata / Sake

 

The Tohoku region has the ideal landscape and climate for rice farming and is the largest rice producing region in Japan. Top leading brands from Tohoku are "Akita-komachi" and "Hitomebore." "Akita-komachi," a small grain rice, is exclusively distinctive, not too soft yet tasty and suitable for dishes like rice balls and sushi. The Medium grain rice known as "Hitomebore" is popular for its soft texture and stickiness. Developed in Miyagi, the rice is most suitable for all sorts of comparable Japanese, Western and Chinese style dishes.

The Tohoku region has also offers some of the best sake in Japan. The secret not only relates to the rice quality, but the high quality spring, snowmelt water from the mountains. Tohoku has hundreds of sake breweries that offer a wide range of top grade sake. Indulge in the taste of the local sake’s unique flavor and aroma.

As a desert, do not miss out tasting delicious local fruit like juicy oversized apples from Aomori and little ruby colored cherries from Yamagata.

Tohoku is easily accessible from Tokyo by high speed rail (bullet train). Upon arrival, witness the splendid natural beauty of Tohoku and discover local cuisines and culture.

Information is provided as a courtesy to users of this website. Though the JNTO endeavors to ensure the information is accurate, users of the information are to act on such using their own judgement and at their own risk. Neither the JNTO nor any holder of copyright to the information shall be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any loss or misunderstanding, either direct or indirect, that is incurred as a result of utilizing the information.

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