Where to Visit Using JR EAST Pass Tohoku Area

March 16, 2016

As of 1st of April 2016, JR East Pass will be divided into 2 sections. So you can pick whether you want to explore Tohoku area or Nagano - Niigata Area. Compared to Nagano-Niigata area, the Tohoku one offers more places to visit and has wider range of travel

There are a lot of shinkansen that you can use to travel to Tohoku area! So let me make a list where to go if you have this pass. You can use 5 days worth of travel within 14 days, which means you can stay in the city for 1-2 nights before hopping to your next destination! As you have 5 days, here are my top 5 recommendation cities to visit! 

source = TasteofTohoku

Lake Inawashiro-ko is located in the center of Fukushima Prefecture and the main entrance to Bandai-Asahi National Park. It is the fourth largest lake in Japan and often called heaven's mirror lake as the surface reflects the shape of Mount Bandai. You can enjoy the nature's beauty with wild birds, camping, water skiing, board sailing, and so on. During winter, you can have winter sports and watch swans migrating

source = YokogawaBridge

Fudosawa Bridge is one of the iconic bridges in Japan that's located in Fukushima. The bridge looks beautiful in any season but I think autumn and winter is the best season to photograph the area. 

source = TasteofTohoku

Mount Bandai is located in north part of Fukushima. The lava from great eruption in 1999 flowed into the Nagase River upstream and created many different sized ponds and lakes surrounding the mountain, the numbers reach over than 100 lakes. They also have Goshiki-Numa or five colored ponds where you can see the wonder of volcanic material dissolving into the water. As the time and sunlight changing the color of the water from green to whitish blue and then to reddish blus, be fascinated with the wonder of nature. 

source = jnto

Yamagata produces 70% of cherries in Japan so what's better than cherry-picking in the area itself? There are a lot of areas to do cherry picking. Here's a list of cherry picking place in Yamagata from their tourism website which you can pick from. Japanese fruits are usually made in love and taste different than my country in my opinion. Picking fruits are one of popular activities to do for Japanese as it means you can eat all you want within limited time

source = TasteofTohoku

Zao Onsen is a well known area for onsen and ski resort in the mountains of Yamagata, and the ski resort area is one of only few places in Japan where ice trees that resembles snow monsters due to heavy snowfall and freezing winds can be seen. The peak is usually around mid-febuary. You can access it via ropeway or gondola. In the evening the monsteres are lit up for illumination and you can enjoy it from inside nearby cafe. I recommend you to stay overnight in the onsen as well to fully experience the winter season

source = yamagatakanko

Cruising leisurely in Japan's lake? Why not. Mogami River that's run through Yamagata Prefecture is called mother river, offers a lot to see during all the 4 seasons. The best sceneries along the river is the Mogami Valley, which you can enjoy while sitting on the boat of Mogami River Cruise. The experience is around an hour while listening to songs sung by the boatman. Mogami River is one of the three most rapidly flowing rivers in Japan

If you have watched Amachan series like me, you must have known that Sendai / Miyagi is the prefecture where the drama's located. It has abundant seafood and most importantly, UNI!!! Uni or sea urchin is one of my favorite food in the world, it's comparable to caviar in my opinion considering the rich taste. You can visit fish market in Minamisanriku that was closed due to 2011 Tsunami but has opened again. Their Minamisanriku Kirakira Don is a rice bowl filled with octopus and sea urchin from southern Sanriku. They are not only specialized in Uni but also offer salmon, bonito, eel, salmon egg, and so on depending on the season. If you want to have seafood for lower price than Tokyo and obviously much much more fresh, come over here

source = yokosoJapan

Naruko Onsen Village is a famous area where there are a lot of onsens where you can relax at. This village has been around for 1100 years and nine out of eleven types of hot springs in Japan can be found in this village. It has been counted as one of the three renowned hot springs in Oshu for a long time. The Hot Spring Village is located in the north of Miyagi and surrounded by mountains. Nearby the village, there's Naruko-kyo Gorge for tourist spot as well

source = TasteofTohoku

Akiu Otaki in Miyagi is 55 meters high waterfall that has ranked on most scenic and spectacular waterfalls in Japan. It is said to be one of the best waterfalls in Japan. Nearby the waterfall, there's an onsen resort and beautiful sceneries along the way as well

It takes 205 minutes direct shinkansen trip from Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori. Aomori is famous for its apples but they dont only have that to offer.

source = TasteofTohoku

Hirosaki Castle is where you should visit shall you want to see how this 17th century built castle by Lord Tsugaru. The time where it's most beautiful is within end of April - first week of May as it's the time when sakura blooms. Shin-Aomori is up north from Tokyo so usually the sakura blooms later. If you by chance miss Sakura in first week of April, go up north and find this castle to experience your sakura

source = en.aomori

Kanchogai Dori is a street filled with Sakura, and I really recommend you to visit this area if you're late for cherry blossom season in Osaka and Tokyo. Blooms in late April - 1st week of May, avoid visiting during golden week if you dont want to be with too many tourists

source = yokosojapan

Lake Towada is one of the most famous Lake in Japan, considering that it is the largest crater lake in Honshu Island. You can access this directly from Tokyo Station for 3 hours, directly to Hachinohe Station. Then another 2,5 hours via bus. It takes a long way to reach this Lake but it's all will be worth it once you see the beauty. It is not only beautiful in autumn, but all those 4 seasons will enhance you. Recommended that you stay overnight near the lake or in Aomori. 

source = wikimedia

Located in Nyuto Hot Spring Village, Akita that has eight onsen to choose from, Tsurunoyu Onsen is one of them and the most famous one. You can take a day trip or relax in their ryokan, experiencing local hospitality while enjoying local food. The onsen is outdoor type and looks very surreal during winter. 

source = planetyze

Kakunodate is an area in Akita that also has late-bloom Sakura in case you missed one in Tokyo. This area is full of samurai residents that still screams traditional Japan in Edo-period, it is similar with Kyoto but less tourist and more hipster. You can expect to see Sakura bloom in late April-early March. Besides that, this area is also beautiful during autumn as you can see koyo (autumn leaves) changing its color, so hop on your shinkansen to see Japan's natural beauty in the best way. 

source = dslralpha.c.blog.so-net.ne.jp/

This rock at Shiose Point resembles Godzilla so the local call it Godzilla Rock. It's very interesting to come and take picture of it during sunset, and when the moment is right, it feels like the Godzilla is eating the sun

And so this concludes the end of this post. I hope there will be more and more places in Japan that you and I can explore in the future. I hope to visit these places as well one day with the JR EAST Pass as well!

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