What Guidebooks Won’t Tell You: the Unexplored Parts of Tohoku

  • SPOT
  • When you hear of Tohoku, what comes to your mind? An earthquake? The nuclear accident? Or…

    Although having a small territory, Japan is made up of various regional cultures. As there are countless sightseeing spots, those who have visited before may have realized that it is impossible to experience all of Japan’s attractions in only one or two trips. Also, the more you get to know about Japan, wouldn’t you wonder if there is a lot more travelers have yet to experience, such as coming in contact with a deep-rooted regional culture?

    4 years ago in 2011, the Tohoku region was hit by a great unprecedented disaster. Many buildings were destroyed by a large-scale earthquake and the tsunami. However, Tohoku region, whose culture represents Japan with its sake and hot springs, accomplished an efficient recovery, and it continues to be the fascinating place where you can experience the very essence of traveling to Japan.

    Sake and Hot Springs

    “Sake” and “Onsen” (hot spring) are both not only unique to Japan, but also strongly reflect the culture of each region. We’d especially like to point out that sake has rich flavor and is delicious, and the hot springs can heal you. Experiencing regional culture will be a wonderful factor in making your trip in Japan (even more) enjoyable and satisfying.

    We’d like to recommend you to not only visit that place, but to go on the English guided tours to a sake brewery and other places that offer cultural experiences.


    While the latest technologies do humans a favor, at the same time the landscapes of various regions have become similar. Even with such a trend, Aizu remains a remote place with untouched nature and traditional culture. Completely different from Tokyo metropolis, it attracts us with its outstanding charm.

    Oku Aizu, with the mirror-like reflections on the water that blend in fantastic scenery, is an especially lovely place. Depending on the weather conditions, it’s possible to enjoy such a mystical atmosphere.

    Akebono Shuzo, located in Oku Aizu, is a Sake brewery unique to Izu that was developed in a climate with cold winters and hot summers, and has a history of over 100 years. “Tenmei”, the Japanese sake masterpiece, with its exquisite balance of great taste, sweetness and sourness, and a flavor that reflects seasons is a truly satisfying find.

    Those who would also like to enjoy hot springs need not worry. You can warm up in Ebisuya Ryokan’s private onsen filled with natural spring water, while enjoying the view of Oku Aizu’s mountains and the beautiful Nojirikawa river.

    Oku Aizu holds a number of allures. If you’d like to find out more, please click here.


    If you take a train from Osaki Town, a distant valley scenery will unfold before your eyes. This place, that shines in the autumn sun as if set in flames, is Naruko Gorge. Hot spring culture developed in this peaceful town that was founded over a thousand years ago amidst magnificent nature and is rich with hot spring sources.

    In the ancient times, Naruko Onsen was a place where those engaged in agriculture and fishing would get together once a year to exchange ideas. Onuma Ryokan, which operates this Naruko Onsen to this day, is a place of relaxation and recreation. These 8 pleasurable hot springs that include the open-air baths will surely provide you with a genuine cultural experience.

    But let’s not forget about Naruko’s local sake. The essential “Manazuru” sake was created from the abundant production of their prized rice and clear water from the forest. Tanaka sake brewery which has magnificent wooden cellar still continues to produce it in a traditional way to keep its authentic flavor.

    If you have a chance, you should certainly visit this brewery to experience Manazuru’s gentle aroma and somehow relieving taste.

    There are many other hot springs and sake breweries besides those we recommended here.
    For more information, please click here.

    In conclusion

    The beauty of Tohoku region starts with the above recommended Aizu and Naruko. There are plenty of other unexplored places, if you’d like to find more information, please visit this splendid website.

    However, in reality, it may be difficult to communicate with people living in the regions in Japanese, and even going to all of the Japanese prefectures independently may currently be difficult for travelers. If you have any uncertainties, you can book a regional tour below.

    Oku Aizu Tour
    Naruko Tour

    We are happy if this article helps you in “getting to know Japan deeper”. Why not set out on a journey to experience Japan’s profound beauty?

    *Featured Image: jp.fotolia.com/

    Related Articles:
    The 6 beautiful prefectures of Tohoku
    Beauty of Fukushima, Cherry blossom viewing in Hanamiyama