Tohoku | Japan Travel Guide - Road Trip Across Tohoku, Japan

Tohoku Tour 2018.08.09
Traveling around Miyagi, Yamagata, Prefecture, Akita, and Iwate Prefectures

 Japan's Tohoku Region 

Over the past years, JAPANKURU has been all around Japan's mountain area Tohoku,
but this time we went to some places that we felt really shows off
the regions stunning mountains, lakes, hot springs, and everything else the area is famous and loved for.

  • If you can only attack one county or city at a time, if you can, I hope that everyone can play the whole Northeast region at a time, because by car rental, you can save a lot of time on public transportation and transfer these time to enjoy the beauty of the Northeast. Isn't it more cost-effective?

    Whether you are flying directly to the Northeast, or taking the Shinkansen to the Tohoku from other parts of Japan, you are advised to use "Sendai" as the starting point for your journey. After getting off at Sendai Station, you will depart from the North Exit and there will be a Nissan car rental base nearby. You can change to the self-driving mode immediately, and move northeast!
  • Nissan Rent-a-car Sendai Station North Exit (日産レンタカー仙台駅北口店)
    Nissan Rent-a-car Sendai Station North Exit (日産レンタカー仙台駅北口店)
    🏢2-1-59 Kakyoin, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi
    Google Maps
    ⏰8:00 to 20:00   📞022-227-2321
    - 10mins from Sendai Station North Exit
    💻Sendai Station North Exit (ENG)
    We rented Nissan's best-selling car, the 6-seater Serena. Since this trip we were going to drive everywhere, the spacious interior made everything stress-free. 
  • The Interior
    The Interior
    In addition to the front seats, there are USB charging outlets and cup holders in the back as well making everything very convenient for the passengers the whole trip!

TOHOKU ROADTRIP FIRST STOP ● Miyagi & Yamagata Prefecture ●

  • Mount Zao, Miyagi (蔵王) Okama - Crater Lake (御釜)

    The first course around the Tohoku region was Okama located at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level and if you ask us, Miyagi Prefecture's best spot!! This lake was named Okama after a Japanese traditional cooking pot (kama) because of its shape. The volcanic terrain is special, and there are few rare creatures nearby, plus the waters change colors according to the sunlight. 

    The Okama katsudon, or fried pork on a bed of rice is in another realm compared to others due to the particular and special smell and texture of the rice. Just looking at the pictures again make our mouths water!!!✧˖°🍚😋°˖✧ 

    Google Maps
    - Car rental map Code: 464 129 518 * 87

Shiroishi, Miyagi (白石市) Zao Fox Village (キツネの村)

Located in the Zao Fox Villagee in Mt. Zao, Miyagi, there are more than 100 foxes of various breeds.
Here, you can not only observe the foxes at close range but also feed them! We want to recommend you wear good shoes though! Hiking shoes are best if you have them.

Miyagi Zao Fox Village
🏢11-3 Kawarago, Fukuokayatsumiya, Shiroishi, Miyagi
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 569 139 481 * 18
⏰9am~5pm 💴1000yen
Miyagi Zao Fox Village Site (English)

Recommended Local Miyagi Food  Cow Tongue (牛タン)

When it comes to the famous products in the Sendai area, the first thing that comes to mind is definitely beef tongue. Japanese people love to eat beef tongue, which is a bit strange for many foreigners to grasp.
The beef tongue grilled over a charcoal fire and whether you dip it in soy sauce, miso, or salt, it tastes way better than you would think! If you have the chance to try, please do!

TOHOKU ROADTRIP ● Yamagata & Akita Prefecture ●

  • Yamagata City (山形市) Yamadera (山寺)

    The first place we visited during our Tohoku travel was Yamadera (山寺)! Meaning "mountain temple", Yamadera is a Buddhist temple representing the scenery of Yamagata and CNN even called it one of Japan's most beautiful temples.

    It was founded during the Heian Period (794-1185) by Buddhist priest Jikaku Daishi as a branch temple to Enryaku-ji in Kyoto, one of the most significant monasteries in Japan at that time. Also, famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho composed one of Japan's most influential poems, "Shizukasa ya, iwa ni shimi iru, semi no koe" (deep silence - the shrill of cicadas- seeps into rocks) here.
  • After climbing up to 1,000 steps you'll reach the main hall of the temple which overlooks the countryside and can also be used for meditation. This temple is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty and Historic Site❤
  • ★Yamadera (山寺)
    🏢4456-1, Yamadera, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
    Google Maps
    - Car rental map Code: 62 232 111 * 74
    - Parking lot: Mountain entrance souvenir shop Motomiya
    💴 Adults 300yen, junior high school students 200yen, elementary students 100yen
    💻Official website link

Tendo, YamagataTendo Hot Spring Rest Area
(道の駅 天童温泉)

During road trips it's important to make pit stops. Here you can stop for some food, drinks, and even a nice free Japanese foot bath! It gets your circulation going getting you ready to go for further adventures!

★Tendo Hot Spring Rest Area
🏢2-3-41 Kuwanomachi, Tendo, Yamagata
💻Related information (link)

Obanazawa, Yamagata (尾花沢市) Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉)

Ginzan Hot Spring (銀山温泉) is a historic hot spring area in Yamagata Prefecture. It's said that the area was originally a silver mine that operated from 1456 to the end of the 1600s. The hot spring was apparently discovered by chance by the coal mine workers, then was flourished into a hot spring resort in 1741.

Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉)
🏢Ginzanshinhata, Obanazawa-shi, Yamagata Prefecture
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 720 859 002 * 10
💻Official website link

TOHOKU ROADTRIP ● Akita & Iwate Prefecture ●

  • Yurihonjo (由利本荘市) Mount Chokai (鳥海山)

    Mountain Chokai (鳥海山) is an active volcano at 2,236m/1.3 miles above sea level located at the border of Yamagata and Akita Prefecture. Mountain Chokai is also called Mt. Fuji of the Northeast region thanks to the ice caps that don't melt in the summer. From June to early October, it's open to the public and can be climbed.

    Mount Chokai (鳥海山)
    🏢Fukura, Yuza, Akumi-kun, Yamagata
    Google Maps
    - Car rental map Code: 352 687 415 * 50

Semboku, Akita (仙北市) Lake Tazawa (田沢湖)

Not only is Lake Tazawa (田沢湖) known for its stunning waters constantly changing shades of blue and green, it's also Japan's deepest lake (423m/1387ft deep)! The most iconic spot at Lake Tazawa is the golden beauty, the Statue of Tatsuko. There is a myth that goes with it, and it is said that a beautiful woman named Tatsuko wished and prayed for her beauty to last eternally. However ended up being cursed by the gods and turned into a dragon, sinking into the lake below.

★Lake Tazawa (田沢湖)
🏢Katajiri, Saimyoji, Nishikicho, Akita
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 280 711 377 * 66

Semboku, Akita (仙北市) Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉郷)

There are about 10 hot springs in the area, and you can enjoy each hot spring water in 7 different accommodations. Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉郷) is a rural hot spring resort in Towada-Hachimantai National Park (in Semboku City, Akita) and consists of Japanese-style hot spring spas scattered around the base of Mount Nyuto. Especially, "Tsurunoyu" (鶴の湯), a place inside Nyuto Hot Springs where the hot springs baths aren't separated by sex! Everyone bathes together! It's something you can hardly find anymore in Japan.

Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉郷)
🏢50, Tatsuzawa National Forest, Tadawawa Lake, Sennichi, Akita
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 435 486 151 * 26
💻Official website link (ENG)

Akita Grandmother's Ice Cream "Baba Hera" (ババヘラ)

The Akita region has unique street food that isn't easily found in other areas of Japan.
Here is an ice cream stall named "Baba Hera". 
"Baba" means grandmother in Japanese, 
and she uses a tool to spread ice cream called "hera".
It's a rare sight in Japan, even Japanese people are surprised when this see this stall!

TOHOKU ROADTRIP ● Iwate & Miyagi Prefecture ●

  • Iwate District (岩手郡) Koiwai Farm (小岩井農場)

    Koiwai Farm (小岩井農場) is a private farm in Iwate with loads of cows and sheep grazing on the vast fields, horseback riding, butter, cow milking, and more. There are many people who also come just to enjoy the lovely scenery. A MUST though is trying the rich and creamy dairy products that are made from the animals on the farm. 
Koiwai Farm (小岩井農場)
🏢36-1, Maruyachi, Shizukuishi-machi, Iwate-gun, Iwate
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 81 841 884 * 18
⏰Opening hours :
April 20~September 30 - 9am~5:30pm
October 1~November 4 - 9am~5pm
💴800yen for adults, 300yen for elementary school students
💻Official website link (ENG)

Hiraizumi, Iwate (平泉) Chuson-ji Temple (中尊寺)

The next course from Koiwai Farm was Hiraizumi that's located in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture. Hiraizumi is connected with the fate of one of Japan's greatest heroes, the warrior Yoshitsune. The Buddhist temples in the Hiraizumi area have remained an important part of Japanese culture and history. Resulting in Hiraizumi and the temples being listed as a World Heritage Site in 2011. In particular, the temple called "Chusonji Temple" (中尊寺) was founded in 850, and Buddhist monuments are still preserved to this day, and it is said that a typical building style of Hiraizumi culture can be seen.

★Chuson-ji Temple (中尊寺)
🏢202 Koromonoseki, Hiraizumi, Iwate
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 142 282 772 * 53
💴Adults: 800yen, High schoolers: 500yen, Middle/High school: 300yen, Elementary: 200yen
- Paid parking available
💻Official website link (ENG)
  • Recommended Local Iwate Food Morioka Reimen (盛岡冷麺)

    "Morioka reimen" is a type of cold noodle dish which was developed from a Korean noodle called Naengmyeon. It's said to have been brought to Morioka City in 1954 by Teruto Aoki after migrating to Japan from North Korea. Similar to the Korean version, the Morioka version uses a light, non-spicy broth.
  • Recommended Local Iwate Food Maesawa Beef (前沢牛)

    Maesawa beef belongs to the same species as the black-haired and cattle breeds. It's in the same series as the well-known Matsusaka beef and Kobe beef, although not as famous. Being raised under the natural environment of Iwate, this grand marbled beef is to die for!
  • Miyagi District, Miyagi (宮城郡) Entsu-in (円通院)

    Entsu-in (円通院) is a temple to honor the grandchild of Date Masamune, Japanese warlord and representative figure of the Sendai area. One of the most famous features is the mausoleum decorated with Namban art motifs influencing the mission of contact with Europe during the Sengoku period roughly 400yrs ago. The temple also has a Japanese garden attributed to Kobori Masakazu, or Kobori Enshu (小堀 遠州).

    Entsu-in (円通院)
    🏢Chonai-67 Matsushima, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi
    Google Maps
    - Car rental map Code: 110 442 169 * 81
    ⏰April to the end of October - 8:30am~5pm
    Late October~November - 8:30am~4:30pm
    December~March - 9am~4pm
    💴Adults 300yen, High school 150yen, Elementary & Junior high 100yen
    💻Official website link


    ⇩Check out our video of our trip to Tohoku💖⇩

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