Tohoku Travel Guide: The Best Spots To Visit For Each Season | CoolJapan

In light of the recent pandemic, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has launched the #traveltomorrow campaign with the aim of encouraging people to forgo travel for now while still keeping a keen interest in exploration.

In this spirit of keeping wanderlust alive, we turn the spotlight to Tohoku. It's a fairly underrated region hailed by the National Geographic as "one of the best trips to take in 2020". Here are the four best spots — one for each season! — to visit in this delightful part of Japan once this chaos is over.

During spring, explore the beautiful Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle

Sakura season at Hirosaki Castle. Photo from:

Cherry blossom season is one of the best times to visit Japan and few places are as spectacular in spring as Hirosaki Castle. Widely considered to be the best sakura viewing spot in the Tohoku region, this 17th-century castle that features a three-storey tower, fortified moats and corner turrets is located within the lush and serene Hirosaki Park. The public park has over 2,500 cherry blossom trees, and when in season, it covers the entire space in a blanket of soft pink hues. Peak hanami (flower-viewing) takes place around the last week of April and the first week of May when the blossoms are in full bloom.

In the summer season, catch vibrant festivals

A scene from Aomori Nebuta Festival. Photo from: Rosino/CC

In the warmer months, the entire region comes alive with a whole gamut of festivals including the popular Morioka Sansa Odori in the Iwate Prefecture. Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as "the world’s largest drum parade", this event is a riotous celebration of colours and music with over 10,000 Taiko drummers and dancers performing on the streets of Morioka City.

Other noteworthy festivals include Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, which takes place in Aomori Prefecture. Named one of three biggest festivals in Tohoku, this vibrant event features a large procession of floats, each bigger and more visually spectacular than the next. Even if you happen to be in Aomori outside of the festival dates, you can still soak up the fun at the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse which showcases the festival’s rich history through various interactive experiences, including a session on how to make a float.

In autumn, visit the majestic Mogami River

Mogami River

A scenic boat ride down Mogami River. Photo from:

Regarded as one of the three biggest rapid streams in Japan, the Mogami River is a mighty body of water that runs through northern Yamagata Prefecture and into the Japan Sea. Take a traditional boat ride helmed by a local boatman who entertains guests by singing folk songs during the journey. During the Edo period, this body of water was an important trade route as the Mogamikyo Gorge did not have a land route and the riverboat was the only means of transport. These boats were used to carry rice or saffron to Osaka and Kyoto and would return with products such as Nishijin brocade onboard. While the boat-ride is a year-round activity, autumn is a particularly scenic time to visit as the foliage along the riverbanks are awash with vibrant colour — fiery reds, burnt oranges and earthy browns.

In the winter, see the amazing Zao Mountain Range

Zao Mountain RangeBreathtaking snow-capped landscapes on the Zao Mountain Range. Photo from:

The undulating, snow-capped mountains of the Zao Mountain Range are among the most iconic natural features of the Tohoku region. The biggest draw is the field of amazing frost-covered trees which can be admired from December to March. One of the best ways to see this natural beauty up close is to visit the Zao Sumikawa Snow Park. Home to acres of beautiful frost-covered trees, here you can enjoy a tour around the fields of frost-covered trees on a heated snowplough before bedding down in the nearby Togatta Onsen.

Alternatively, the Zao Onsen Ski Resorts offers an adrenaline-pumping programme of skiing and snowboarding in the snow-covered fields. The resort also plays host to special events such as fireworks displays and the "1,000-person Torchlight Ski Descent".

(Cover photo from: Rosino via Flickr)

  1. 1.Hirosaki Castle
  2. 2.Nebuta Museum Warasse
  3. 3.Port of Furukuchi/Mogami-kyo Line
  4. 4.Zao Sumikawa Snow Park
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