Japan: A Closer Look at Tohoku – Part 2

Dec 3rd, 2008 | By | Category: Regional Travel Resources

The Tohokuo region of Japan includes six prefectures – in Japan: A Closer Look at Tohoku – Part 1 you learned about some of the sights and activities that can be enjoyed by visitors to Akita, Aomori and Fukushima prefectures and in part 2 we will cover Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures.  The Tohoku region is home to breathtaking scenery and amazing historical sights and is well worth taking some time to explore.

Things to Do & See in Tohoku

Iwate Prefecture

Iwate Prefecture is the second largest prefecture in Japan and is located on the Pacific Ocean in northern Japan.  Morioka is the largest city and the seat of the prefectural government.

  • Hiraizumi Visit the Morioka Handiworks Square to try your hand at making Nambu-senbei crackers, glutinous rice confections and steamed buns or see demonstrations of ironwork and ceramics.
  • Visits the impressive Ho Onji Buddhist Temple in Morioka and be sure to see to the Statues of the 500 Disciples of Buddha made from wood and finished with Japanese lacquer that are housed there.
  • Take a dip in one of seven hot springs at Geto Hot Spring outside of Kitakami where the highlight of your stay will include a visit to the Dokutsu no Yu, a giant hot spring located within a cave.
  • Visit the Goishi Coast, named after the small crystal like pebbles found on the eash that resemble stone used in the Japanese game of Go.  A four kilometer walking path winds along the cliffs, and campsites and an aquarium can all be found along the Goishi Coast.
  • Climb the 204 steps within the Kamaishi Daikannon on Kamakazi Point.  The statue is 13 stories tall, houses a gallery and offers stunning views of the Ozaki Peninsula and Mada Misaki.
  • Visit Ryusen-do Cave, one of the three larges limestone caves in Japan, and the emerald green underground lakes located within the cave that is 2,500 meters long.
  • Visit the historic monuments at Hiraizumi, a UNESO World Heritage Site.

Visit the Iwate page presented by the Japan National Tourist Organization or Iwate no Tabi to find more great things to see and do in Iwate Prefecture and you can put it all in perspective with this handy map of Iwate.

Miyagi Prefecture

Miyagi prefecture is located on the Pacific Ocean about 300 kilometers north of Tokyo and is in the center of the Tohoku region.  Miyagi is known for it’s rich fishing grounds and lovely scenery.

Matsushima Bay, Japan

Take some time to explore the city of Sendai (the capital of Miyagi), visit the Miyagi page presented by the Japan National Tourist Organization or Miyagi Touring Navigation to find more great things to see and do in the prefecture.

Yamagata Prefecture

Yamagata prefecture produces the bulk of Japan’s cherries and pears and is home to over 100 onsen or hot springs.  Located on the Sea of Japan this area is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty along with many historic temples and shrines.

  • Introduce yourself to one or more of the 16 of the most well known hot springs in Yamagata.
  • Visit the Risshaku-ji Temple that houses a Buddhist flame that been kept lit since the foundation of the temple more than 1,000 years ago.  The temple was also the subject of a poem by Matsuo Basho, a leading Japanese haiku poet of the 17th century.
  • Explore the Sankyo Storehouse in Sakata City that was built in 1893 to store rice and is still in operation to this day.
  • Visit the Uesugi Kinenkan Museum on a tour of Yonezawa.   Visit in mid-February to see the snow lantern festival or in early May to see a re-enactment of the ‘Battle of Kawanakajima’ that is part of the Uesugi festival.
  • Take a cruise one the Mogami-gawa River
  • Visit Okama Crater Lake in Zao for some camping, hiking, skiing or horseback riding.

Visit the Yamagata page presented by the Japan National Tourist Organization or Welcome to Yamagata to find more great things to see and do in the prefecture.

MatsuoBashoChusonjiPoetry Inspired by the Tohoku Region

The Haiku below was written by Matsuo Basho, a leading Japanese haiku poet who lived from 1644 to 1694 and stayed in Yamagata for 43 days during his 150 day journey to the Tohoku region in 1689.

Utter silence,
Piercing the stone walls,
The cicada’s cry

Set at Yamadera temple in Yamagata City

Take a moment to read Yamagata: On the path of poets to read another of Basho’s Haiku and to follow in his footsteps.

Trip Planning

If you are visiting the Tohoku region of Japan be sure to read Part 1 of Japan: A Closer Look at Tohoku in conjunction with this article and for an overview of the region and to explore more of what there is do do in Tohoku take some time to browse through the Tohoku Guide.

Cut & Paste Japan Trip Planning” offers great resources on travel, culture and current events throughout Japan.

Image Credit:  Flickr, Hiraizumi, Matsushima Bay, Japan & Two gods gate (nioumon, 仁王門) & Wikimedia, MatsuoBashoChusonji

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  1. mustn’t forget the gyutan (beef tongue) set meals in sendai. they’re the best!

  2. Have you been to many of the places you write about?

  3. Tony;

    I have not been to all of the places that I write about but the purpose of the A Closer Look series is to share the travel planning resources that I have found with the readers of The Nihon Sun so that they are able to create a great itinerary for their own trip.

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