All About Japan

Tohoku: Japan's Treasureland

| Spring in Tohoku , Tohoku

Tohoku is the northernmost region of Japan’s main island of Honshu. While it may be best known for its incredible winter landscapes, the JNTO and All About Japan headed north in spring 2017 to prove there are plenty of reasons to visit the region year-round!

We traced the lingering snow walls on the Zao Echo Line to Okama Crater in Miyagi Prefecture, then headed north to Aomori to see the secrets behind Tsugaru Vidro glass, a technique that grew out of the production of glass floats for fishing nets.

Spring in Japan is synonymous with cherry blossoms, and Aomori's Hirosaki Castle is Tohoku's most iconic site for cherry blossom viewing. Other key cherry blossom spots in the region include Miyagi's Hitome Senbonzakura (literally, "a thousand cherry blossom trees in a glance"), as well as Sakura-Nanohana Road and Oshira-sama's Weeping Cherry Tree in Akita. (More on cherry blossoms here!)

As the snow melts, water takes over in Tohoku. For a brief period in spring, an azure crescent of water and snow stares up from Mount Hachimantai, forming the Hachimantai Dragon Eye. Meanwhile, the Kisakata area of Akita features islands heaved onto land by an 1804 earthquake, where they now seemingly float among the water-filled rice paddies. Kaerazu-no-taki Falls drop some 97 meters (318 ft) to drain Okama Crater, while Jizonuma Pond in Yamagata offers peaceful campsites and hiking trails.

Shirakami Sanchi was one of Japan's first four UNESCO World Heritage sites. Here Ao-ike, the blue pond, presents water so clear you can see every fish, leaf and twig down to its 9-meter (29 ft) depths. Further south, Fukushima's Tastusawa-fudo-taki falls from a height of 10 meters (33 ft) to form a 16-meter-wide (52 ft) screen of water amid the budding greenery of spring. (More on fresh greenery in Tohoku here!)

Large-headed, wooden kokeshi dolls are the classic souvenir to bring back from a trip to any of the Tohoku region's various hot springs, with different styles to be found depending on where you go. Making one of your own is a highlight of any visit!

Tohoku also offers vibrant festivals, such as the Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival. Observed in Takisawa Village and Morioka City on the second Saturday of June, the people pray for the horses that have traditionally been cherished in this agricultural region.

Amid all the beautiful mountain landscapes, you can also stroll around Aomori's Koganezaki Rice Terraces or enjoy the sunset over the vivid waters of Akita's Lake Tazawa. High or low, whatever the season, Tohoku truly is a treasureland of Japan!