Top 10 Things to do in Tohoku, Japan

March 7, 2018 Kiesha Cripe

The Tōhoku region (東北地方, Tōhoku-chihō), Northeast region, or Northeast Japan consists of the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. This traditional region consists of six prefectures (ken): Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata.

1. Oirase Mountain Stream

Okuse, Towada 034-0301, Aomori Prefecture
Excellent
66%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 771 reviews

Oirase Mountain Stream

Reviewed By Anthony S - Brisbane, Australia

I loved this walk, even in heavy rain with mud and water underfoot. It had been raining for a couple of days so the track was very wet and muddy and the stream was flowing strongly. There is not a lot of colour in the trees as yet, but higher up they have all changed so in another ten days or so the stream environs will be at their best.
The track is well marked, right beside the road but don't let that detract from it. There are many entry and exit points adjacent to the road and therefore the bus stops, but the buses are an hour or so apart.
Due to the rain I only walked the upper last two stops but it was a great walk. Great views of wate and tres along the way. Easy walking. There are plenty of written guides to the walk so select a section that is within your time availability. Walking time is quicker than the printed guides say.
Restrooms are well spaced every hour and a half apart.

2. Hagurosan Five-Story Pagoda

7, HaguromachI, Touge, Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture +81 235-62-2355
Excellent
73%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 114 reviews

Hagurosan Five-Story Pagoda

Reviewed By wvzjxq - SFO

This place is far from the beaten track in the countryside of West Japan. Come here while the foreign tourists still haven't discovered it yet. On a cold November day, we were the only foreign tourists here. The hike to the pagoda is only 10 minutes from the bus station. This pagoda is the first stop on the long path up the mountain. It is as beautiful as a Japanese scenery can get, especially with falling snow like on the day we went.

3. Tachineputa No Yakata

506-10 Omachi, Goshogawara 037-0063, Aomori Prefecture +81 173-38-3232
Excellent
66%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 182 reviews

Tachineputa No Yakata

Reviewed By KeeWong - Penang

Never had we seen such kind of Giant Lantern Display, it was really a different kind of astonished feeling. The design of the whole "museum" is wonderful as we could walk all the way from 4th floor down to ground floor without taking any stairs. Remember to check for the short movie clip show schedule. You can watch it halfway along the way down.

4. Mt. Haguro

Haguromachi Toge, Tsuruoka 997-0211, Yamagata Prefecture +81 235-62-2356
Excellent
67%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 234 reviews

Mt. Haguro

Reviewed By Ettelbruck - Vantaa, Finland

Rainy morning was probably not the best moment to visit here. Dark photos and not that great inner peace due wet clothing. But still, I can sense the greatness of this area. So beautiful - and remember, active and working holy place. So check out where to got and where to shoot photos.
Easy to get there also by car - though by walk it would be probably more interesting and spiritual.
By the parking area some good shopping facilities and we also saw some ceremony - which we unfortunately did not understand. Part of that was six ladies playing taiko-drums and after the ceremony leader even asked my wife to test those drums! Very nice bonus!

5. Ogashinzan Traditional Museum

97 Kitaurashinzan, Oga 010-0685, Akita Prefecture +81 185-33-3033
Excellent
63%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 120 reviews

Ogashinzan Traditional Museum

Reviewed By Gretchen M

If you are wanting an authentic experience of the Namahage folk tradition of Oga I highly recommend joining this 30 minutes presentation.
So by now you have certainly noticed that Namahage are an integral part of life on the Oga peninsula! Nevertheless, it is still elusive as to their sheer fear factor unless you experience them first hand. It may sound touristy, but they do a great job of simulating the New Year`s Eve tradition of visiting homes and scaring the young children.
The house has a traditional thatched roof and is dark inside with a fire pit. It is popular with Japanese visitors so usually there is a good crowd creating a high level of energy. First you hear the roaring of the Namahage and you can physically sense the fear as people start clinging closer together. The narration is in Japanese, however if you know the overall story you certainly get the gist of what is going on. The day we joined we were told that the straw from their costumes is considered to bring good health so were we encouraged to pick some up.
Once the Namahage enter the house they stomp around controlling the atmosphere quite dramatically. I should warn you though that if there are small children they will intentionally scare them to the delight of the Japanese visitors. So please be careful when bringing children!
The Namahage are gods that were tricked by the locals into fleeing to the Mountains. They, however, descend every New Year`s Eve visiting homes threatening to take lazy and naughty children back to the Mountains with them. Amongst the pleading of the children and the reassurance of the parents that they will indeed behave the Namahage are appeased (well, that and with the offering of sake of course!) and eventually leave the house ... until next year.
Visiting this reenactment is particularly fun after first visiting the adjoined museum and time providing taking a walk up to the Shinzan shrine where the annual Sedo matsuri is held. It is set off in a beautiful forested park of the local Mountains. You can visit year round. From spring to fall there is a lovely outdoor tea room that serves a light menu including curry, udon, kiritanpo as well as drinks.
You will need either need a car or take a bus from the Funakawa Oga train stations. Probably about 20 minutes from station / 15-20 minutes from tunnel.
By car take the Namahage line and there are clearly mark signs for museums with a beautiful tile statue on the left side road. Take a left and follow the curving road for about 1 kilometer. There is a plenty of parking available.
Prices are best if combined with the Namahage-kan museum, ¥800 combined ticket, ¥1000 combined ticket for winter months between December and March.
¥700 for adult, ¥500 for child if you choose just do the Traditional Museum (the reenactment).

Sakurakubo Taki, Miharu-machi, Tamura-gun 963-7714, Fukushima Prefecture
Excellent
65%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 129 reviews

Miharutakizakura

Reviewed By ART196

日本五大桜の一本。日本三巨大桜の一本。このべにしだれざくらの樹齢は千年超。僕が来た時で少し白くなくなってきちゃったようだけど、やはり三春滝桜の大きさや形は印象的だった。実は、三春へ行った理由はお城関係でも、この有名な桜を見に行く機会を見逃せなかった。
Do you know this famous tree? When i came the blossoms were passed their peak, but i could still appreciate the ponderous majesty of Takizakura, the "waterfall cherry blossom" of Miharu. Although my being in Miharu was incidental, i could hardly not visit this ancient weeping cherry blossom of national renown.

7. Risshaku-ji Temple

4456-1 Yamadera, Yamagata 999-3301, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-695-2843
Excellent
52%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 674 reviews

Risshaku-ji Temple

Reviewed By mabei0123 - Tsukuba, Japan

Yamadera, literally "mountain temple", is a general term for the temples and shrines scattered along the Yamadera mountainside. Hojusan Rissakuji is the official name of Yamadera, which may be translated as Rissakuji Temple on Mt. Hoju. The Temple was founded in 860 AD by Kikaku Daishi in response to an imperial edict issued by Emperor Seiwa during the Heian period. The haiku poet and traveller Matsuo Basho journeyed to Yamadera to experience its supreme quietness, and the 1,015 stone steps Basho climbed in the Edo period continue to lead visitors up to Okuno-in, the famous innermost temple. Yamadera has become a popular tourist destination, and many tourist visit Yamadera all year round and take 1,015 steps way up at the mountain. The climbing walk would be a test to your strength and age. The view from top is indeed spectacular. The temples themselves were just fine. It's good to eat the homemade Soba noodles here after your climbing walk before you take a train to return to Yamagata (@20 min) or to Sendai (@60 min).

8. Gonosen

Fukaura-machi, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture
Excellent
60%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 114 reviews

Gonosen

Reviewed By bakatori - Singapore

Being born and bred in an equatorial zone has ingrained into me a fascination for snow.
I am not saying I have never seen snow or experienced winter.I have been to Koyasan in Feb 2012. However this Feb 2013 trip was different. It was a dream venture into 雪国, The Snow Country.
Before I embarked on this journey, I did my research thoroughly, Tohoku is well-known for her harsh and relentless winter.
And I stumbled upon Resort Shirakami scenic line in the Internet.
This 5 hour plus scenic line starts from Akita and ends in Aomori. She runs through the plains and along the Sea of Japan.
Hyperdia timetable provides information on the exact schedule.
Please note this resort line only run limited trips in peak season and weekends.
All seats are reserved. JR pass holder can travel on this line for free.
Sea of Japan, she is the embodiment of beauty, grandeur and fickleness.
For the first time, I was glad to be in the warm cocoon of the train, protected from the wrath of nature.
The relentless churning, raging and crashing of waves against the harsh, unyielding and stoic dark cliffs. In the midst of the clash of titans, the snow swirled and danced, providing a silent orchestra background to the battle stage.
Here I was able to truly and really experience first hand the ever changing mood of Mother Nature. One minute it was raging storm, churning and swirling with visibility almost zero and the next second, Sunshine and clear blue skies. This pattern continued throughout the 5-hour trip, bright Sunshine alternating with dark raging storm.
This Feb winter trip into The Snow Country has given me a rare insight of how harsh, unforgiving starkness can be beautiful too, beauty and beast all at once.
The Resort Shirakami ride was long and time consuming.
However the experience was incomparable, the visual rewards and emotions that it induced, forever ingrained into my memory.

9. Towada Art Center

10-9 Nishi Nibancho, Towada 034-0082, Aomori Prefecture +81 176-20-1127
Excellent
52%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 183 reviews

Towada Art Center

Reviewed By CathCPerth - Yokohama, Japan

Towada City's main attraction has to be its art centre. The street leading to the art centre is lined with amazing large scale public artworks that are striking and unique providing plenty of photo opportunities! A lifesized fat house and garage and car, a super sized ghost, and dotty pumpkins and people by Yayoi Kusama are just some of the works you will see on the street. Immediately outside the art centre building is a colourful and large flower covered horse and a giant red ant! The gallery has a permanent collection of equally creative and impressive works that lead you up and around the floors. Even the entrance floor and the staircase have been painted by commissioned artists. I was really impressed to see a giant hyper- realism sculptural work by Australian based artist Ron Mueck. My only disappointment is that photos of the works inside the gallery are not permitted. I was however allowed to take a photo of the floor art in the entrance. In total there are 22artworks by 21 artists from around the world that were especially commissioned for this gallery.
The Art Centre building is very contemporary in design and has a large mural on the outside by a famous Japanese artist. There is a cafe and small gift shop which area also has its own floor art which is very appealing.
We drove there however if you do not have a car, you can visit the gallery from Hachinohe station by taking a JR bus which takes 40 minutes.
A great gallery that makes art fun and interactive. Worth a visit if you are in Hachinohe or Towada area.

10. Frost Covered Trees of Zao

Near Jizo Mountain, Yamagata 990-2301, Yamagata Prefecture +81 23-694-9168
Excellent
57%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 188 reviews

Frost Covered Trees of Zao

Reviewed By JiveSun - Taipei, Taiwan

To view Zao juhyo (frost covered trees) takes good luck. The last time I went up there the weather did not cooperate. The spectacular sights I had hoped to see were all lost in low visibility conditions. But as the place, with these natural wonders, is worth many more visits in the future, I left with no regrets and decided to come again soon.
When you arrive at Yamagata Station (East Exit), go to Bus Information Center to purchase the "Juhyo Admiration Bus Setticket" (¥3100, including a round-trip bus ticket and the Zao Ropeway Exchange Ticket). Go to Bus Stop #1 and get on the bus bound for Zao Onsen. When you arrive at the terminus, follow the signs and go to Zao Ropeway (not Zao Chuo Ropeway!).
Redeem the Zao Ropeway Exchange Ticket at the front desk and proceed to the entrance. Change cars at Juhyokogen Station and arrive at Jizosancho Station.
I suggest that you check the weather before you go up, in case you do not see any juhyo. In addition to juhyo, the snow-clad Zao Jizoson that was established there in 1775 is a sight of peace and quiet. If you need a place to stay warm, there is a restaurant right next to the Jizosancho Station.
I actually stayed until past 17:00, thinking that it would clear up during the evening Light-Up session (open season from December of 2015 to February of 2016, for 50 days on selected dates). But it was windy and snowy, and many areas were off-limits. When I left, the temperature had already dropped to -11 degrees Celsius. I decided to return soon in the near future for the grandeur of juhyo that I missed admiring.

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