The northern region of Honshu Island is known as Tohoku, an area that the Japanese equate with a slower, more traditional way of life.
The tourist infrastructure is less developed here, but this is part of the area’s charm; fewer visitors mean it is easier to see life proceeding in rhythm with the seasons as it has for centuries past.
Amongst Tohoku’s highlights are the scenic splendour of Lakes Towada and Tazawa, the picturesque samurai town of Kakunodate and the hidden temples of Yamadera and Dewa Sanzen.
This area is known as ‘Snow Country’, and the long mountain winters are brightened by countless local festivals.
Much of the region is readily accessible by JR train, but car hire provides the freedom to reach the secluded hot spring resorts and traditional farming villages that make the area such a joy.
During the steamy summer months Tohoku plays host to a number of Japan’s most extravagant and spectacular festivals, offering a tremendous opportunity for the visitor to experience the true soul of the nation.
To a backdrop of traditional song, pounding taiko drumming, roaring bonfires and countless stalls serving local delicacies, the great summer festivals of Kanto in Akita, Nebuta in Aomori and Tanabata in Sendai play out to crowds of hundreds of thousands.
With smaller local events taking place throughout early August this is truly a magical time to visit this wonderful but often overlooked part of the country.
Places to visit in Tohoku
Featuring heavily on our experiences of visiting Tohoku, these selected places are destinations that also prove consistently popular with our travellers. Our specialists can help you choose how to include them in your wider trip, based on your preferences.
Suggested Tohoku itinerary
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Tohoku, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Tohoku
Places & hotels on the map
Places in and around Tohoku
- Dewa-sanzan Tohoku
- Kakunodate Tohoku
- Matsushima Tohoku
- Nyuto Onsen Tohoku
- Tazawako Tohoku
- Towadako & Hirosaki Tohoku
- Nikko 168 miles away
- Hakodate 196 miles away
- Yudanaka 203 miles away
- Noto Peninsula 217 miles away
- Hakuba 227 miles away
- The Japanese Alps 231 miles away
- Tokyo 235 miles away
- Matsumoto 246 miles away
- Tateyama 250 miles away
- Kamikochi 254 miles away
- Kamakura 263 miles away
- Takayama 278 miles away
- Hakone & Mount Fuji 278 miles away
- Kanazawa 283 miles away
- Sapporo 284 miles away
- Shirakawago 286 miles away
- Tsumago 295 miles away
- Izu Peninsula 300 miles away