Things to do in Tohoku

Things to do in Japan's northern countryside

The Tohoku region is famous for its modern and traditional activities, which allow discovering the vastness of the region. From bicycle riding to sightseeing to alpine sports, the Tohoku region is a must-see place to visit. 


Skiing the Tohoku region

Very mountainous, the Tohoku region is a must-see destination for alpine sports lovers.

Here is our selection of the best ski resorts in northern Japan :

  • The Zaô ski resort is the largest in the north of Japan. Its ski slopes and its "snow monsters" are particularly popular. Zaô is also famous as a spa resort for its high-quality onsen.

  • The ski resort of Appi Kogen Ski Resort in Iwate Prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo. Located in the heart of the Hachimantai volcanic plateau, its 21 ski slopes are located on the slopes of Maemori and Nishimori Mountains. This resort is particularly suitable for families with a dedicated children's ski area, a daycare service, snowy playgrounds, and a zoo!

  • The 29 ski slopes on the side of Mount Bandai in Fukushima Prefecture. Nicknamed "the little Mount Fuji" by the locals, Mount Bandai is also particularly known for its four lakes: Hibara, Onogawa, Inawashiro and Akimoto lakes around which it is possible to make magnificent hikes.

Station de ski Appi Kogen Ski Resort

Station de ski Appi Kogen Ski Resort

©Inazo1862, Wikimedia Commons

Station de ski ALTS Bandai Snow Resort

Station de ski ALTS Bandai Snow Resort

©雄犬, Wikimedia Commons

Mont Iwate

©jasohill, flickr

The Best Onsen in Northern Japan

Mountainous and volcanic region, Tohoku is home to some of the most beautiful spas in Japan. It is therefore an ideal place to discover onsen during your stay in Japan! 

Among the best ones to try in the region, discover Zaô Onsen and Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata, Naruko Onsen in Miyagi, the Sukayu Onsen in Aomori, and the onsen of Hanamaki city in Iwate.

Ginzan Onsen

Ginzan Onsen

Walking around Tono (Iwate prefecture)

Tono is a rural town located in the hills of central Iwate Prefecture. Tono is mostly known for its folklore, due to the legendary spirits and supernatural creatures residing in the town such as Kappa.

The area around the town is also notable for the unique provincial landscapes and the traditional agricultural culture that is preserved there. It is a great opportunity to go for a bike ride while exploring the surrounding area.

The rural area of Tono is known for its traditional farms which have the particularity of having a thatched roof. There are three traditional villages in the vicinity of Tono, where you can learn more about Japanese rural life and try various traditional activities!

How to get to Tono? Tono is located along the JR Kamaishi line between Hanamaki and Kamaishi and is therefore accessible by train. Bonus : the Japan Rail Pass works on this line.

With your Japan Rail Pass in your pocket, explore the north of Japan freely!

River Rainai à Tono

River Rainai à Tono

©663highland, Wikimedia Commons

Kappa, esprits japonais

Kappa, esprits japonais

©Shigeru Mizuki, Wikipedia

Zazen: learn to meditate in Japan

Of the many schools of Buddhism that have taken root in Japan, Zen is the best known abroad and perhaps the most representative of Japanese culture. One of the most important teachings of Zen Buddhism is that it is possible to attain enlightenment through meditation. 

Zazen, which is characterized as sitting meditation, is meant to help one better understand the nature of existence and thus attain enlightenment. Known as an excellent way to relax, calm the mind and reduce stress, zazen has gained popularity among the general public in recent years. 

In Tohoku, several temples offer Zazen sessions under the guidance of monks. They will guide you to discover this unique experience.

Kodo Sawaki Zazen

Kodo Sawaki Zazen

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