Sightseeing spots in Tohoku
Hot springs (called “Onsen” in Japanese) are very famous in Tohoku. Nyutou hot spring (Akita prefecture), Zao and Kaminoyama hot springs (Yamagata prefecture), Hakkouda and Sukayu hot springs (Aomori prefecture), Akiu and Sakunami hot springs (Miyagi prefecture), Hanamaki hot spring (Iwate prefecture), Higashiyama and Iizaka hot springs (Fukushima prefecture) are popular.
Traditional summer festivals are also famous. Especially, the four biggest festivals; Sendai Tanabata festival (Sendai-city in Miyagi prefecture), Aomori Nebuta festival (Aomori-city in Aomori prefecture), Akita Kanto festival (Akita-city in Akita prefecture), and Yamagata Hanagasa festival (Yamagata-city in Yamagata prefecture) are the most famous. Many tourists would like to visit them to see the symbol of Tohoku in summer. In addition, the Omagari fireworks (in Akita prefecture) is famous worldwide.
Because Tohoku is one of the biggest leading agricultural producer in Japan, a wide variety of crops and tasty seafood are available. Tohoku region experienced the most disastrous earthquake on record, and Tsunami hit east coast of Tohoku on March 11 2011. Reconstruction work is still in process and the daily life of people living in Tohoku area is revitalizing little by little. It is so significant to recall the memories of these areas during your journey. We recommend you to visit revitalized Tohoku.
The World Heritage Sites:Shirakami-Sanchi
Shirakami-Sanchi crossing into both Aomori and Akita prefectures was listed as World Heritage site in 1993. It was the first World Natural Heritage site in Japan. There are one of the largest beech forests in the world that have never gotten any human influences. Beech forests are composed of beeches precious plants, Mongolian oaks, Japanese wing nuts and so on. Some animals such as Asian black bears, Japanese serows, golden eagles live there. Shirakami-Sanchi is divided into two areas; the core area and the buffer area. If you want to enter the core area, you must submit a prior application. It is necessary for tourists to have enough power because the trails are unpaved. You need to prepare for climbing up about 1000 meters.
■ Sirakami Life & Activities /Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center
The World Heritage site: Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land –
The World Heritage site: Hiraizumi and Buddhist Pure Land architectures, Japanese gardens, archeological sites Hiraizumi in Iwate prefecture was listed as World Heritage site in 2011. It is composed of various temples, Japanese gardens and architectures that are all based on the thought of the Pure Land Buddhism known as the Jodo sect. The “Jodo” is the place considered the ideal world of Buddhism where Amida Buddha (Amitabha) live. The Jodo sect promises to reach “Jodo” after death, the land of Perfect Bliss. Hiraizumi played an important role the history of Japan between the periods of 11th to 12th centuries. On the way to Hiraizumi, it would be good to layover at Sendai, if you take a Shinkansen (Japanese buffet train) from Tokyo, Hakodate, and Aomori. You can enjoy gourmets and sightseeing at Sendai city.
■Hiraizumi Tourism Association
Tohoku travel notes
The long course ferries arrive at Sendai port in Miyagi prefecture and at Akita port in Akita prefecture. If you want to visit Shirakami-Sanchi, you should use the ferry at Akita port. If you get on a ferry at Tomakomai-Higashi port after Hokkaido trip, you can arrive at Akita port at 7: 35 am. It takes about 12 hours. We recommend that you visit not only Shirakami-Sanchi but also other tourist spots. If you board at Nagoya port or at Tomakomai port, you may see sister ship. Getting off at Sendai port is also a good choice, because that port is close to Hiraizumi. For the next ferry trip from Sendai or Akita port, driving is also a good option to go to Niigata, Oarai or Tokyo, where you will get another ferry.