The Tohoku region consists of six prefectures on the northern part of Honshu, Japan’s largest island. It is best known for its lakes, mountains, countryside, hot springs, and rough winters. It is also known for producing very high-quality rice.  While the region experienced the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 (and the ensuing nuclear incident) very little of it has been severely affected and it is quite safe to visit.

Blessed with beautiful nature and home to many beautiful attractions in Northern Japan, Tohoku is where visitors can experience impressive autumn leaves in the fall, cherry blossoms in the spring, green forests in the summer, and snow festivals in the winter.

okama_crater_mount_zao_tohoku
Okama Crater, Mt. Zao in the Tohoku Region. Photo Credit: Tomoaki INABA at Flickr.

Lake Towada is the largest caldera lake on Honshu. It is a part of Towada-Hachimantai National Park. The lake is best known for its spectacular autumn foliage. There are a number of sights to see and the pristine wilderness can be deeply soothing. Oirase Stream is a must-see, especially in autumn. The best way to view the lake and its environs is on one of the sightseeing boats that run in spring, summer, and autumn. You can also drive along the scenic route along the lake.

Aomori is a very northern city in the region and is best known for its Nebuta Matsuri. This summer festival runs from August 2nd to August 7th every year. There are dozens of incredible hand-crafted floats that depict gods and other characters from myth and legend. These floats parade through town every night of the festival, pushed by human power, weaving and spinning gracefully. They are accompanied by taiko drummers, cymbal players, and flute players. There are also vendors selling festival food and souvenirs, as well as a fireworks show to close out the night.

The Shimokita Peninsula is at the northernmost point of Honshu. It is an ax-shaped peninsula. It is best known for Osore-san, or Fear Mountain, a barren and steaming volcanic landscape that is held to resemble Buddhist hell. The mountain is held to be sacred and there is a temple there that you can visit. The peninsula has a rugged, rough landscape. It’s a wild region that experiences frequent harsh weather. This results in frequent closures during the winter. The area’s Yagen Valley has several hot springs to visit.

Located in Aomori Prefecture, Hirosaki is one of the culturally richest cities in the Tohoku Region. It grew up around Hirosaki Castle, which is currently the region’s most famous cherry blossom spot. Hirosaki Castle was built in 1611 and today serves as a pleasant place to walk. This castle is one of the few in Japan that has not needed to be rebuilt after being destroyed. You can also visit several museums in the town and even a few preserved Samurai residences.

Tohoku offers world class hot spring resorts throughout the region, which are in fact great to explore anytime you pay a visit to. Discover its four season’s beautiful scenery, local cousins, suggested itineraries, summer and winter festivals including the historic landmarks, and outdoor activities.

  • Region: Tohoku
  • Prefecture: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, and Fukushima
  • Largest city: Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture
  • Area: 66,889.55 km2

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