The Tokoku region consists of six prefectures, including Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima. Aomori prefecture has the Oirase mountain stream that welcomes us with the elegant water flow, dynamic waterfall and the walking path full of nature. As Aomori is surrounded by the sea, you can enjoy fresh seafood – the Hasshoku Center in Hachinohe is a huge market where you can find any type of seafood. Iwate prefecture has Hiraizumi, a world heritage, where many historic buildings, such as Chuson-ji Konjikido Golden Hall and Motsuji Temple, are located. In Ichinoseki-city, there are valleys called Genbi-kei and Geibi-kei, both of which entertain visitors with a dynamic water stream and beautiful views of nature. Fukushima has the Goshikinuma, which is composed of clusters of ponds and lakes that are colored with various shades of blue.
Ouchijuku is an old postal town located in Aizu-county in Fukushima. The town still retains the townscape of the Edo period with a row of thatched houses on both sides of the main street and allows you to soak in the atmosphere of old times. In Ouchijuku, you can also enjoy the famously unique Negi (green onion) Soba noodles that are eaten with a stick of green onion, instead of traditional chopsticks. As Negi Soba is a very popular dish that can be sold out before lunchtime, we advise that you go to the restaurant early.
During winter time, you can find forest-covered trees as known as “Snow Monsters”, due to their huge size, on Mt. Hakkoda in Aomori prefecture. Snow Monsters are is widely known as an art of nature and attract people from all around the world. The best season to see Snow Monsters on Mt. Hakkoda is from January to February.
Wanko Soba, which is Iwate’s specialty, is an “all-you-can-eat” noodle dish that allows you to get refills until you are full. Please make sure to slide the lid on your bowl quickly when you’re done, or one of the servers will slide in a new portion for you to eat. There is even an annual event called “All-Japan Wanko Soba Tournament”, where participants compete for how much and how fast they can eat. If you are interested, you can try Wanko Soba noodles in Morioka-city, Hanamaki-city and Ichinoseki-city in Iwate prefecture.
The Ebisu Circuit in Nihonmatsu-city, Fukushima that has several race tracks hosts the Ebisu Drift D1 Gran Prix three times a year for international drift drivers and has been gaining international attention as the Mecca of drift racing.
Shopping & Gourmet
Aomori Prefecture Tourist Center APAM is located near Hotel Sunroute and is a great spot for buying local specialties and famous products of Aomori as gifts. It only takes 8 minutes by walk from JR Aomori station.
The Sanriku region that includes the coast cities of Iwate, including Kamaishi and Kuji, and Hachinohe-city in Aomori is famous for its fresh seafood – particularly the oysters, scallops and sea urchins are to die for.
Kitakata Ramen that is a local ramen of Kitakata-city, Fukushima, features simple soy-sauce-flavored soup and chewy curly noodles. It is one of the top three ramen noodles in Japan along Sapporo ramen and Hakata ramen.
Oma-city, Aomori that is located in the northernmost part of the main island of Japan is famous nationwide for its tuna. At an annual event in Oma, they give a tuna butchering demonstration for tourists – it really is worth seeing how the demonstrators use their knives. The butchered tuna can be purchased on the spot or sliced into sashimi and served over a bowl of rice (Kaisen-don) after a demonstration.
Nebuta Matsuri is Aomori’s biggest summer festival that is held every year from August 2nd to August 7th. The festival is known for Nebuta, which is a float with a brave warrior-figure on the top, and a group of dancers called “haneto”, who dance around the float. Nebuta Matsuri has over 2.5 million visitors every year and has been the most popular summer festival in the Tohoku region.