Tohoku’s snow resorts are characterized by their superior-quality snow. The ski slopes are made of powdered snow that’s easy to ski on, and both beginners and experts alike will surely be satisfied by the assortment of courses both fast and slow. Tohoku’s skiing locations feature hot springs, placing them among the finest snow resorts.
Said to be the largest class snow area in Tohoku, Zao is attractive due to its Grand Course created by taking advantage of the natural geography and its good-quality powdered snow. Beginners and pros alike can enjoy skiing at a level suited to them. The frozen trees here, sometimes called “snow monsters”, are breathtakingly beautiful.
Located next to Towada-Hachimantai National Park, this ski area is top-class in terms of scale within Japan, straddling Mount Maemori and Mount Nishimori. The snow quality varies throughout the various areas, but they are all enjoyable in their own way. Part of the woods have been opened to make a ‘tree run zone’ where you can casually enjoy skiing amidst the trees.
From the crack of dawn all the way deep into the night, you can enjoy yourself within the wilderness of Mount Bandai and Inawashiro Lake. All of the ski areas are located over 600m in altitude, which means that you can enjoy snowy leisure with high quality snow even after April. Ease of access from Tokyo is one of this area’s highlights.
Within the verdant wilderness of Tohoku there are numerous onsens blessed with high quality water in abundance. There are numerous ‘onsen hotels’ in Tohoku, where you can visit and partake in the local culture of ‘spa therapy’—revitalizing yourself in the waters of an onsen.
Zao Onsen, known for its particularly strong scent, is a strongly acidic sulfur spring. The spring is considered to have rejuvenating properties for skin and blood vessels, in addition to beautifying skin and killing bacteria. Located near a ski area, it is developing into that largest coordinated mountain resort within Tohoku.
(Link to Takamiya Group)
Iizaka Onsen, located in a hot springs area that boasts 2,000 years of history, is easy to access from Tokyo. Nearby, you can also enjoy picking various fruits throughout the seasons such as cherries, peaches, grapes, pears, apples, and more.
(Link to Matsushimaya Ryokan)
Iwaki Yumoto Onsen has good accessibility from Tokyo. Its waters possess various effects, particularly for beautiful skin and high blood pressure. As the mistresses also engage in hula dances while wearing kimonos, it is also well-known as the “Hula Town”
(Link to Keito Ryokan and Yuyutei)
Thanks to the numerous natural blessings of the Tohoku region, you can enjoy a variety of fresh seafood and fruit. Also, all of the various regions have many traditional and unique foods; we urge you to savor the flavors of Tohoku you won’t find anywhere else.
A traditional dish of Akita Prefecture, in which pounded rice is wrapped around the tips of cedar skewers, cooked, then removed from the skewers and cut up to make it easier to eat. It’s served in a variety of ways: cooked together with chicken broth, eaten with sweet miso, and more.
This is an ‘eating experience’ in which you receive a small bowl with just a bit of soba noodles in it, which is constantly refilled every time you finish it. It’s said that this dish originated from the fact that although this region frequently entertains guests, there are also certain customs about soba preparation, so it came to be that guests’ bowls would be filled a little bit at a time in order to entertain large numbers of guests all at one time.
Tohoku has both high-quality rice and clean water, which means that the area is host to a variety of sakes that are notably delicious even within Japan. One popular activity is brewery-hopping to taste-test freshly made sake. There’s more than just sake, too; you also can enjoy wine made from high-quality fruit and richly flavored whiskey.
Japan has an abundance of festivals dedicated to appreciating Shinto & Buddhist deities as well as ancestors. Several unique festivals rich with regional tradition are held in Tohoku; this includes major summer festivals like the magnificent “Nebuta-matsuri”, Akita’s “Kanto-matsuri”, as well as a variety of other events such as fireworks festivals.
As the sakura trees (at Hirosaki Castle, Kakunodate etc.) approach their full bloom in late April, they become massively popular with domestic tourists. In May people visit the Oirase Gorge to let the freshly-sprouted greenery heal their spirits, and from October to November, you can savor the changing autumn leaves in the Oirase Gorge, Genbi Gorge, and at Mt. Bandai. When winter comes you can see things in Tohoku that you won’t find anywhere else, such as the Yokote Kamakura (snow hut) Festival and the frozen trees of Zao. The Shirakami-Sanchi, a mountainous range designated as a World Heritage Site, where primeval Japanese beech forests barely touched by humans dot the landscape, is also not to be missed.
Another one of Tohoku’s attractions is the large variety of traditional landmarks such as the Chuson-ji Temple in the World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi, and Dewa Sanzan, a sacred site for mountain religions. The region also boasts stunning historical scenery at various Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, including ancient temples and mountain temples. The area is home to several castles, including Hirosaki Castle (Important Cultural Property) which has had its castle tower intact since the Edo era, and Tsuruga Castle (Nationally Designated Historical Site). Visit traditional townscapes such as the Kakunodate Samurai District, and enjoy seeing rich traditional crafts like Nambu Ironware, kokeshi, and ‘akapeko.’