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A Tour Through the Winter Scenery of the Tohoku Region

The Tohoku Region is very cold in winter! But it is covered in very beautiful scenes that won’t be stopped by the cold! This time we would like to introduce some aspects of Tohoku that are particularly appealing in winter. On a map of Japan, the Tohoku region stretches out from the northern side of the Kanto region. There is still a lot of nature left here, so you can enjoy sightseeing through the scenic natural beauty! This edition is the special December collection, so with a little luck, perhaps you can make some special memories of time spent amongst these winter scenes. The journey starts from your arrival at the station!

First, we will introduce Zao Onsen, a recommended sightseeing spot in Yamagata.

 

Zao Onsen Ski Resort (Yamagata)

 
 
 
 

During the ski season at Zao Onsen, from the end of December to about the end of February, you can enjoy the breathtaking “ice monsters,” trees covered with ice and snow. At the Zao Onsen Ski Resort, because of the Zao Ropeway from the entrance of the Yokokura Slope, you can get winter clothes at a rental shop, etc., and then head right for the slopes! And as you can guess from the resort’s name, you can also enjoy skiing and snowboarding surrounded by the ice monsters! If you have a little extra cash to spend, you’ll also want to enjoy renting ski and snowboarding gear, too. The temperature drops to -10 degrees near the summit, so make sure to protect against the cold!

You can enjoy the captivating snowy scenery of winter in the Tohoku region.
Next, we will introduce winter illumination events from Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture!

SENDAI Pageant of Starlight (Miyagi)

 
 

Sendai Pageant of Starlight is a large illumination event carried out in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture in winter. This event is usually planned to take place in December of each year, when the zelkova trees lining the warmly lit Jozenji-dori Avenue are awash with light. When snow falls, the shower of light reaching to the end of the avenue shimmers against the snow for an even more captivating scene! The brilliantly illuminated Starlight Wink light display has also received rave reviews from visitors to this spectacle of darkness and light. Don’t miss this spot if you come to Sendai!
*Please look at the website for further details of operating dates and event times.

Ouchi-juku (Fukushima)

 
 
 

With approximately 30 thatch-roofed accommodations, dining establishments and souvenir shops, Ouchi-juku is like going back in time to a scene left over from the Edo Period. Negi-soba, a famous dish where green onion is used in place of chopsticks, and over two meters of snow heavily piled on the thatched roofs! This is a true Tohoku winter! During the two days of the snow festival, a snow lantern is lit at night and fireworks shoot up into the sky. Other features include authentic costumes and many events such as a soba speed-eating contest.

Lake Towada (Aomori and Akita)

 
 
 
 

With endless sky and lakes, and Lake Towada reflecting the encircling mountains like a mirror. Said to be the third deepest lake in Japan, you’ll surprisingly be able to see 12.5 meters beneath the surface of this clear water! Fish such as kokanee salmon and smelt live in the lake. Lake Towada is a crater lake, formed by volcanic activity that began approximately 200 thousand years ago, with a mountain stream that offers different views depending on the season. Because this stream runs parallel to the hiking trail, it is remarkably easy to walk there. This is a place where you can enjoy an authentic experience with nature.

Find relief from the cold by immersing yourself in a hot spring.
Next, we will introduce hot springs in Yamagata that will warm your body and heart!

Zao Kokusai Hotel (Yamagata)

 
 
 

This is a hotel right next to a ropeway station leading to the ice-covered trees.
In the lounge you can enjoy having tea and relaxing after your bath while looking over the garden waterfall. Zao Kokusai Hotel is also famous for its large wooden bath, and the relaxing atmosphere like somehow being embraced by the gentle wood is remarkable. There is a stone open-air bath. Because of the extreme cold of the Zao winter, it takes a little bravery to bathe outside, but if you do try venturing into the open-air outdoor bath you can enjoy feeling the warmth spread throughout your body. The three rental baths where you can submerge yourself in the hot water are another delightful charm.

Ginzanso (Yamagata)

 
 
 
 

We will introduce Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata Prefecture’s Obanazawa City. Ginzan Onsen, with rows of hot spring buildings from long ago, will relieve your travel fatigue with its beautiful, illuminated night views. You can enjoy the hot springs while gazing over the expansive snowy views from the large bath at Ginzanso in Ginzan Onsen. And that’s not all! Neyu, a public lying bath recommended for those who want to experience the snowy views and starry sky at the same time is also available. Let the quiet calm wash over you as you laze at the bath relaxing your body and mind.

Information is current as of March 2019 but is subject to change without notice. For further details and the latest information, please inquire directly to the relevant establishments.

Photos courtesy of: Zao Ropeway, SENDAI Pageant of Starlight Executive Committee, Ouchi-juku Tourist Association, Lake Towada National Park Association, Zao Kokusai Hotel, Ginzanso

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