A Picture of Tohoku
Delicacies, Breathtaking Views, and Relaxation: Discover the Beauty of Tohoku!
Lake Towada / Oirase River
If you're looking for mountain lakes and streams in Japan, it's hard to beat the scenic Lake Towada and Oirase River. In the autumn, Lake Towada's steep, jutting shores are alive with vibrant leaves of red, yellow, and green. Come winter, silvery-white ice and snow form on the surface, but mysteriously, this lake never freezes over completely. Lake Towada's water is also the source of the 14-kilometer-long Oirase Mountain Stream. It flows through a dense myriad of trees whose leaves change color in the autumn, making for a truly breathtaking seasonal spectacle. Meanwhile in winter, icicles form on the trees and waterfalls, forming spectacular "artworks of ice and snow".
Furofushi-onsen Hot Spring
In Japanese, the name of this auspicious hot spring means "eternal youth and eternal life". The number-one attraction here is relaxing in an open-air hot spring right on the shore, and looking out towards the vast Sea of Japan. As the sun sets, the sky, sea, and hot spring itself take on an awe-inspiring golden glow that will leave you speechless. Finally, you can end your day with delicious seafood taken from the ocean waters fed by the underground rivers of the Shiragami-Sanchi World Heritage forest.
A city often called Tohoku's "Little Kyoto". This castle town continues to exude a palpable historical aura, long after its founding in 1620. Historical samurai residences, or "Bukeyashiki", are even preserved as national cultural assets. As you walk along the streets admiring these mansions surrounded by their old black fences, you'll feel as if you've traveled back in time to the time of the samurai. While Kakunodate is well known for its beautiful cherry blossoms, these samurai residences become even more elegant among the autumn leaves and winter snow. How about immersing yourself in the samurai spirit and walking the historic streets of Kakunodate?
Hiraizumi / Chūson-ji Temple Konjikidō Golden Hall
In 2011, Hiraizumi's Chūson-ji Temple became Japan's 12th registered World Heritage Site. Its most famous historical feature is the Konjikidō, a staggeringly-beautiful national treasure which has remained intact since its completion in 1124. The interior is decorated with gold leaf, elevating the structure to the level of artistic mastery. This ethereal vision of the Buddhist Pure Lands must be seen to be believed. The area around Chūson-ji is alive with colorful foliage in autumn and blanketed in snow during winter, adding yet another layer of charm to an already beautiful scene. Come visit during either of these seasons, and witness the magnificent beauty for yourself!
Ginzan Hot Springs
This scenic and quintessentially-Japanese hot spring town straddles both sides of the crystal-clear Ginzan River. The river is lined by rows of inns, almost all of which retain traditional-style facades. Take a stroll through the streets when the sun sets, and as the old-fashioned gas lamps in the streets are lit and soft lights glow in the windows of the inns, you'll truly feel like you've arrived in old Japan. There are few better places to experience a true Japanese autumn, with beautiful foliage and delectable dishes featuring seasonal mushrooms. Meanwhile in winter, the soft gas lamps add a touch of charm to the romantic mood of the snow-covered world laid out before you. And when you come in from the cold, you can treat yourself to the profound pleasure of top-class hot springs and hotpot cuisine.
Celebrated as one of the "three most scenic spots in Japan", Matsushima has been beloved by the Japanese since the 1600's. Its stunning scenes of natural beauty are formed by the 260 islands dotting Matsushima Bay, and there is no shortage of ways to enjoy the truly majestic vistas. From atop the low-lying hills, you can gaze out in wonderment at the islands which seem to form a picturesque miniature garden. Or, if you prefer, board a pleasure cruise and feel the gentle salt breeze as you admire rocky islands large and small, carved into intriguing shapes by the elements. You can also enjoy a breathtaking view of the islands against the morning sunrise or evening sunset. Whatever you choose, you're sure to never forget what you've seen at Matsushima.
The symbol of the mighty Mt. Zao Mountain Range, which rises to 1,841 meters, is the mystifying Okama crater lake, a round body of water surrounded by the three peaks of Kumano-dake, Katsuta-dake, and Goshiki-dake. The sulfur content produced by volcanic activity imparts a dazzling emerald-green hue upon this magnificent lake. If you're vising in mid-winter, be sure not to miss the frost-covered fir trees, formed into gigantic ice pillars by the frosts carried on the westerly winds. You're sure to be awestruck by these impressive works of art created by nature itself. And don't forget to have a soak in the numerous hot springs in the Zao area, which are said to be rich in beneficial elements.* Due to road closures from early November to Late April, the emerald-green Okama crater lake of Zao is inaccessible during the winter.
Tohoku Tourism Association Official Website
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