Aomori（青森）, the northernmost prefecture of the Tohoku region. There’s definitely something magical about this prefecture and it should appeal to all of those who are looking to see different side of Japan to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Does the sound of giant glowing ‘warriors’ and ‘demons’ parading the streets entice you? Well then maybe the Nebuta festival is for you. If you’re looking for a calmer side of Japan this prefecture offers great places to hike as well as fantastic Onsen hot springs to relax.
Located on the pacific coast of northern Tohoku is Iwate (岩手) –well known for the beautiful Sanriku Coast, which while was damaged by the 2011 tsunami has become a symbol of hope for the region. It’s not all about the natural and beautiful scenery however maybe you’ll enjoy the famous Wanko Soba where servers refill your noodles as you pile up the dishes? Or maybe you can send your food flying over Genbikei Gorge – where dango is delivered via basket suspended over a rope over the cliffs- there’s a lot to discover here.
Akita (秋田), a prefecture in tune with the changes of nature – Akita is no stranger to snowfall but the locals don’t let it get them down, every year the city of Yokote turns into a beautiful winter wonderlands thanks to the Yokote Kamakura Festival. Though it’s not just the winter that offers things to see – the annual Akita Kanto Matsuri is a spectacle to behold as performers balance massive bamboo lanterns which fill the night sky – or perhaps you’d be interested in the ‘Namahage’ oni demons that come out in the New Year to scare children into being good? There’s a whole new side of Japan to explore here.
Miyagi (宮城) is sometimes referred to as the ‘hub’ of Tohoku – home to the region’s largest city – Sendai. The ‘city of trees’ is home to all your shopping needs as well as being dotted with cultural sites related to the history of the Date samurai clan which ruled over the area years ago – giving you the perfect blend of modern and tradition. Or perhaps you may want to venture further out to the coasts of Matsushima to see one of the most beautiful views of the ocean in the country?
Yamagata (山形), is a paradise if you’re looking to escape to a winter landscape, famous for the Zao ski resort and onsen hot spring village Yamagata is perfect for those looking to breathe the cool winter air. The fun doesn’t end when the snow melts away however, the summer brings delicious and juicy fruits – with Yamagata producing over 90% of the country’s cherries – or maybe a festival is more your style? How does Human Japanese Chess (shogi) sound in Tendo? Or being a samurai for a day in Yonezawa for the Uesugi festival?
Fukushima (福島), the prefecture of Fukushima is a shining example of the beautiful nature of the Tohoku region even after hardship. A prefecture steeped in a rich history and beautiful scenery, the sights of Aizuwakamatsu castle – one of the last samurai strongholds or the traditional village of Ouchi-juku offer you a chance to slip back in time and take in the culture of the region.