In the previous part, I just gave you some good pieces of information about where you should go while traveling to the Chubu region. In this part, I will introduce to you some of the recommended tourist destinations when you travel in the Tohoku region
Tohoku region is famous for its countryside views, mountains, and lakes’ landscape as well as best places for skiing due to heavy snowfalls in the winter. As a result, I will list some of my great recommended places that tourists should visit in the Tohoku region.
1. Lake Towada
Lake Towada (十和田湖, Towadako) is the largest lake made by volcanic mountains in the Honshu island of Japan with the surface area of 61.1 km2. It’s most well-known because it has a deep blue color on the surface due to its depth. When the autumn season comes, a lake is covered fully of red leaves from trees and therefore, it becomes one of the most beautiful places to have iconic views during autumn season in the Tohoku region.
Hirosaki is one of the most important cultural city in Japan. As the same as other cultural cities, Hirosaki is famous for its ancient castle (弘前城 Hirosaki-jō) with the beautiful surrounding garden. Inside the garden, thousands of cherry trees have been planted so that’s the reason why during the spring season, Hirosaki castle becomes one of the best places in the region to see cherry blossoms.
Information about Hirosaki castle:
+ How to access: from JR Hirosaki Station Bus Stop takes Konan Bus Dote-machi Loop Bus and get off at Shiyakusyo Mae (City Hall) stop. Walk 5 minutes to the park.
+ Admission fee: adults – 510 yen; children – 160 yen
+ Working hours: castle area 9:00~17:00 (April 1st~November 23rd)
botanical Garden 9:00~18:00 (Tickets are sold until 17:30)
+ Closed day: winter season (usually from late November to the end of March)
3. Aomori city
Aomori city is the capital of Aomori Prefecture which connects to Hokkaido via ferry and transportation tunnel. However, this city is best known for its amazing Nebuta Festival in the summer, which is one of the three biggest and greatest festivals in the Tohoku region. The festival is officially held every year from August 2 to 7. If anyone comes to Aomori in August, please make sure that he/she should not miss joining that festival.
Although in Akita, there are no popular tourist destinations the city, the city is widely known as a place where Kanto Matsuri is held every year from August 3 to 6. Akita Kanto Matsuri and Nebuta Festival of Aomori city are the 2 best festivals in Tohoku and both of them are Tanabata celebration. However, in this festival, you are able to see the street lantern performance of local artists and many different activities that you should take part in. Also, you have chances to write your wishes on pieces of paper, then hang them on special bamboo trees around crowded places in the city and hope that the wishes will come true in the future.
Hirazumi was established in 1185 during Heian Period as a base for Fujiwara clan which was known as the strongest clan in Japan at that time. Although the city did not develop as it was expected, it still figures some of the most important historic and cultural places of the Tohoku region. In this city, most the popular spots are temples and the most famous temple in Hirazumi is Chusonji temple (中尊寺, Chūsonji). This temple was built inside a forest so the environment always looks cool and peaceful all the time.
Check temple official website for detailed information (ticket price, how to go to temple, working hours…..)
Yamadera (山寺) is a temple which is known as one of the oldest temples in Japan. It was built on the mountainous area so from there, visitors can have amazing views to look down onto the valley below. Because it is fully covered by natural forest, temple’s landscape changes verily on each season, where tourists can take a few great photos as memorable experiences.
How to access: a five-minute walk from Yamadera mountain Station
Hours of operation: 9:00 – 17:00
Ticket price: temple (300 yen), treasure house (200 yen), yamadera basho memorial museum (400 yen)
Matsushima is an archipelago area contains lots of small islands in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. It’s famous for its bay which is claimed as one of the “Three Most Iconic Spots of Japan” as well as the first Japanese bay to be accepted as “most beautiful bays in the world” list besides Ha Long Bay in Vietnam or San Francisco Bay of the USA. The most enjoyable way for tourists to discover the beauty of Matsushima Bay is by boat. You are carried to go around the bay and get to know about the wonderful natural landscape of this area. That will be one of the most memorable experiences you have ever had in Japan.
Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region with the population over one million people. It was the nearest city to the earthquake epicenter on March 11, 2011, however, it was not highly damaged by the tsunami so all the tourist destinations and public transportation were reopened just a few months after the earthquake. The most popular destination in Sendai is the Zuihoden Mausoleum which is a forever rest in peace place of Date Masamune who found Sendai city in the 1600s. Around the city, you can find other graves or tombs of Masamune family members. Although Sendai does not have many popular tourist spots, you should try to eat local Sendai food which called Gyutan (牛タン, gyūtan – Beef tongue). Beef tongue is thinly sliced, then cooked with charcoal grill and covered by special local sauce. Usually, local people eat gyutan with white rice or make it into the curry dish. Especially, you only have a chance to eat that kind of dish while you are staying in Sendai only. Therefore, I’m sure that it’s a worthy experience for all of the visitors who try to eat that kind of special and limited local food. In addition, there are many more different things that you can enjoy while staying in Sendai too.
Aizu is a castle town which is popular for its special delicious sake and samurai tradition. Moreover, you should go to Aizu and visit this area to enjoy the city’s beautiful natural surroundings. In addition, this town used to a battleground of Boshin War in 1868 between the Tokugawa loyal members and Japanese Imperial Court so many of castles were used as a battle base for Tokugawa clan’s troops. In this past few years, Aizu had suffered contamination from nuclear leaks from 2011 and inaccessible for the government to dispose of the nuclear problem. Thanks to government huge efforts after the earthquake and tsunami disaster, now, the radiation level in Aizu has returned back to normal and all the tourist spots have been reopened and recovered to be available again.
Fukushima is a capital city of Fukushima Prefecture. Although it was not an attractive tourist area, it still has its special figure that I really want to show you as recommended places to visit in the Tohoku region. As the same to other seaside areas Japan, in the past, Fukushima has a variety of natural attractions including hiking trails along volcanic mountains or relaxing, releasing stress in both private and public onsens in this city. However, after the huge damage from earthquake and tsunami occurred on March 11, 2011, most of Fukushima buildings and public transportation infrastructure including highways, trains… were destroyed. Furthermore, because of nuclear leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, a large amount of Fukushima land has been hugely contaminated by radioactive and unusable for a long time. However, from last year, although the radioactive level has been somehow still high when you compare to the past pre-accident level, it’s not harmful to health anymore. Therefore, local residents are moving back to their hometown to start the new life and reconstruct all the building to redevelop Fukushima back to normal again. As a result, visitors do not need to worry much about the nuclear level in Fukushima anymore, just enjoy wonderful natural spots in Japan normally.
In conclusion, there are the top ten best tourist destinations that tourists should visit while traveling to the Tohoku region. Despite the lack of suitable tourist spots, visitors still be able to enjoy great natural landscapes and some delicious local special food in order to have unforgettable memories during your vacation to the Tohoku region. If anyone has plans to go Tohoku, please read my article carefully and use it as your recommended reference to plan your itinerary well in details. In the next part, I will introduce to you my top list of recommended destinations in Hokkaido region – the northern part of Japan. Finally, good luck for your travel plan and I look forward to giving you useful information about Hokkaido in the next part. Bye Bye