Getting Oriented in Tohoku

Tohoku, like the rest of Honshu, is divided by a dramatic series of densely forested mountains chains. Not only will their rugged beauty take your breath away, they can also make travel difficult. Tohoku comprises six prefectures, and stretches from Fukushima, just a short train ride from Tokyo, to the remote and rugged Aomori, the northernmost tip of Honshu, within easy striking distance of Hokkaido. This broad swath of territory encompasses mountain ranges, primitive forests, stunning seacoasts, well-preserved feudal villages, sacred glaciated peaks and secluded temples, relaxing hot springs, and seemingly bottomless lakes in the craters of volcanoes.

  • Sendai. The livable, navigable city of fun-loving, stylish people within easy reach of both mountains and sea hosts the immense and colorful Tanabata Matsuri, a four-night, three-day festival that swells the town to three times its normal size.
  • Northern Tohoku. By branching out from the Shinkansen hub of Morioka, you'll come across traditional ironware teakettles, grand old castles, lovingly preserved samurai houses, sparkling lakes, and huge national parks with mountains to climb, hiking trails for all abilities, large virgin forests, and hot springs galore.
  • Tohoku's West Coast. Mountains give way to fertile plains that extend to the Sea of Japan. While you will find an occasional castle, everywhere you explore you'll encounter the best food, local women nationally celebrated for their legendary beauty, mountains often buried in powder snow, and countless onsen.

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