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The Allure of Tohoku, Japan

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A Journey Through Japan's Deep North

 

With its spectacular natural beauty, age-old traditions and memorable events, Japan’s Tohoku Region is a favored destination for travelers looking for a truly immersive vacation far from the beaten path.

Located in Japan’s picturesque northeast on the island of Honshu, Tohoku is paradise for nature and culture lovers. Graced with glistening lakes, soaring mountains and comforting hot springs, the region provides a peaceful, uncrowded setting to experience outdoor activities, local traditions, culinary delicacies and one-of-a-kind annual events that date back centuries.

 

For some, the name Tohoku may still bring to mind the earthquake and tsunami that struck in 2011. But this region has shown its resilience with a strong recovery and has become a prized destination for travelers interested in lesser-known destinations that offer memorable nature- and culture-based experiences.

 

With its tranquil ambiance and naturally beautiful terrain, Tohoku is an ideal complement to Japan’s larger destinations. The region is home to postcard-perfect small towns and laidback cities, with all the comforts and amenities a traveler might need. The region is divided into six prefectures, each with its own appeal.

 

When to Visit

Tohoku is a year-round destination, thanks to its myriad attractions and variety of activities that make the most of its diverse climate. Choosing the best time to visit depends largely on a traveler’s preferred activities. The warmer months, for example, are ideal for hiking and walking. Every spring, cherry blossoms grace many parts of the region, while the summer provides a verdant palate of colors and the trees turn rich hues of red, orange and yellow in the autumn. Skiing is a big draw in the winter, thanks to the region’s multiple ski resorts. And, of course, Tohoku’s traditional temples and many other attractions are worth visiting throughout the year.

 

Travelers might also want to plan their visit around some of Tohoku’s fascinating festivals and other annual events. Whether it’s a centuries-old religious festival or a event timed to celebrate the changing of the seasons, there’s something interesting happening throughout the year in Tohoku. 

 

Getting There

Traveling to Tohoku is easy, thanks to the comfortable and efficient bullet trains that link Tokyo and major cities in Tohoku in less than three hours. In addition, there are commercial flights from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to most of the major cities in Tohoku.

 

Getting Around

Once arrived in Tohoku, visitors can make use of the region’s well-maintained road and public transit network, with the option to book tours or hire a car for private transportation. Affordable “rail and drive” packages provide still more options for touring the area.

 

This guide focuses on each of Tohoku’s six prefectures, with insider travel tips about must-see sites and not-to-be-missed activities in each region.

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