Take a Tour of Tohoku: 8 Must-Try Activities (part 2)
The Tohoku region covers a vast swathe of Japan so large it can be hard to know where to start on your adventure north of Tokyo. But when you get here, it’s great to hunt out those hidden off-the-beat spots and even meet the local people themselves along the way.
Joining one of the tours introduced below can help take care of this for you– helping you get the most out of your Tohoku trip.
Kiritanpo Training from Akita Experts
Kiritanpo is a local favourite of Akita prefecture – taking mashed, kneaded then pounded rice that is skewed onto a stick. This tradition originated in the northern area of Odate, but is now a renowned dish around Akita and famous around Japan.
Head to the source of this much-loved food, by learning from the local experts in Odate itself. Under guidance from the staff at Youki-na-Kaasan, learn how to make this local dish yourself using freshly prepared ingredients. After the hard work is done, try the dish yourself in a traditional hotspot style, as well as grilled with miso paste — definitely a highlight to enjoy during the colder, winter months.
Homestyle Cooking in Niigata
On any visit to Japan’s countryside, the one thing that most impresses on me the most is the kindness of local Japanese people. The snow country of Tokamachi is no exception, and it is here where you can get to meet the local mums as they invite you into the kitchen and show you some local culinary flair to create several Japanese dishes. The experience menu itself includes three dishes, as well as rice and miso soup, so you won’t be going home hungry.
Night-Time Izakaya Tour in Sendai
Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi prefecture, can be considered Tohoku’s major regional hub – it is the largest city in terms of population and considered a gateway to the rest of northern Japan. This is even more true for visitors arriving directly via Sendai Airport, with routes all around Asia.
Sendai’s nightlife has much to promise given the variety of restaurants and bars here, as well as the cuisine choice on offer – Miyagi is a powerhouse for seafood, be it Matsushima oysters or scallops/hoya from over in Ishinomaki.
You can’t beat experiencing a traditional izakaya (Japanese-style pub) though, with the local Hesono-o izakaya going above and beyond with this foodie tour. Watch the skilled chefs demonstrate how to cut local bluefin tuna, before you try your hand at making sushi in an intimate workshop setting, then enjoying a dinner paired with local Tohoku sakes. This is basically three special experiences all rolled into one, and shouldn’t be missed. Tour available in English, Chinese and Japanese.
Horaiya Factory Tour
Miso is arguably one of the best Japanese ingredients out there. From humble miso soup to more inventive offerings like ‘Hoba-yaki’, it is the one ingredient that keeps surprising the more you get to know it.
Up in Fukushima’s Koriyama area, take the chance of exploring a miso koji factory itself. Horaiya Honten has over 100 years’ history making koji, a fermented rice using Aspergillus oryzae mold. This koji is the key ingredient in many of Japan’s traditional fermented foods like miso, mirin, sake and amazake. On this tour, discover how miso paste is made and then take home your own as a souvenir. English and Chinese guidance is available for these tours.