8 Places You Need to Check Out in North Japan’s Beautiful Region of Tohoku

Photo by Shawn.ccf/Shutterstock

8 Places You Need to Check Out in North Japan’s Beautiful Region of Tohoku

In the far northern reaches of Japan's mainland of Honshu, the Tohoku area is full of some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, from the stunning sloping mountains of Yamagata to the tranquil coastal scenery in Iwate. Far away from Japan's 'Golden Route' that sees most travelers hopping between popular cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, Tohoku is often missed off the list of those coming to the country. However, being a short bullet train ride away away from the capital to most places there, not only is it easily reachable, some places can even be done in a day trip.

table of contents

[x] close

8 Places You Need to Check Out in North Japan’s Beautiful Region of Tohoku

Ginzan Onsen, Yamagata

Photo by weniliou/Shutterstock

A secluded onsen town nestled in the mountains, Ginzan Onsen is a beautiful town of traditional wooden ryokans lined up along the river that cuts through the historic area. A little difficult to get to, Ginzan is located in Japan's northern prefecture of Yamagata. The region is known for its beautiful mountain landscape and valleys, one of the most underrated areas in the country for tourism.

Mototaki Waterfall

Photo by www.istockphoto.com

Mototaki Waterfall is a hidden enclave within the far north of Japan, it's hardly visited by tourists, partly due to its out of the way location and partly because it's just not that well known even among the Japanese population. By rights it should be famous however, this stunning setting is one of the most incredible sights in the country, just be thankful that you'll probably have it all to yourself.

Ouchi-juku, Fukushima

Photo by www.istockphoto.com

This beautiful traditional Japanese village was once one of the post towns scattered along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route which travelers used to walk between Nikko and Aizu during the Edo Period. Nestled in a picturesque spot surrounded by the scenic Aizu Mountains, the town is famous for its traditional wooden thatched houses that line the main street, feeling like you've stepped back into the past to how Japan was like a few hundred years ago.

Yamadera, Yamagata

Photo by Vadim Ozz/Shutterstock

Amidst the dramatic mountain scenery of Yamagata Prefecture lies this atmospheric temple nestled high up on a mountain peak, overlooking the beautiful surrounding scenery. Yamadera, offers one of the most beautiful sights in the world, with a distinct scene for each season.

Literally translated to 'mountain temple' the name certainty doesn't disappoint, this temple is perched on the perfect vantage point, with beautiful views into the valley and mountains below. Most visitors to Japan don't tend to travel much further north than Tokyo, which is a complete shame as the region known as Tohoku is famous for having some of the best scenery in the country.


Photo by 663highland/Wikipedia

Known for offering a delicious spread of different seafood that can be found in the numerous morning markets around the area, if you're heading to Aomori however it's best to make it during the first week of August. A festival bound to impress and most likely stun you with wonder at the same time, the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri is anything but dreary. The event usually consists of over 20 incredibly vivid floats made from traditional 'washi' paper and lit up with lanterns to display their beautiful bright colors. The decorations really are stunning and photos don't do it justice. Known as nebutas, these floats are usually based on various mythical or historical stories often displaying impressive, towering gods or kabuki characters.

Matsushima, Miyagi

Photo by www.istockphoto.com

Known as one of the top three scenic views in Japan, Matsushima Bay is dotted with around 200 small islands covered in greenery that form the stunning view from the coast. This beautiful area is best explored by taking a cruise along the numerous islands, of which you'll find frequent departures throughout the day. Most cruises last between 30 minutes and an hour, winding round most of the islands and some of the outlying area.

Takkoku no Iwaya, Iwate

Photo by yspbqh14/Shutterstock

Another of the Tohoku region's highly unique temples, instead of being built on top of a mountain Takkoku no Iwaya is built into the mountain itself. First built in the 9th century, the temple was dedicated to the god of warriors by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, a shogun of the Heian Period.

Yoroibata Dam, Akita

Photo by Shirakami/Shutterstock

The beautiful Lake Tazawa lies on the edge of Akita Prefecture, but those visiting the region looking for some of the most incredible scenery would be advised to head to Yoroibata Dam as a side trip. The sight of its bright blue waters contrasting against the surrounding vivid greenery is stunning and makes for some amazing photo opportunities.


Still trying to shake off the bad stigma the region has received from the catastrophic Fukushima disaster, Tohoku has long since recovered but has still yet to see the recognition among international travelers that it deserves.