Experience the Authentic Nature of Tohoku

Area Map 青森県 岩手県 宮城県 秋田県 山形県 福島県 新潟県

Experience the Authentic Nature of Tohoku(4days)

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Day1
 

Oirase Mountain Stream

With two stars in the Michelin Green Guide, this pristine stream is one of the most popular scenic locations in Tohoku

Oirase Mountain Stream
Oirase Mountain Stream is one of the most popular attractions in Tohoku and has been awarded two stars in the Michelin Green Guide. The stream stretching for 14km is home to boundless scenic beauty. The journey between viewing highlights can be made by car or bus however walking the route is particularly recommended in order to enjoy this spectacle to its fullest, the extra time and effort are highly rewarded! While walking through the natural green tunnels of the trail, visitors can appreciate the beauty of the vibrant mosses and foliage, breathe in the forest air, and be dazzled by the dance of the sunshine filtering through the overhead foliage on the sparkling water surface.
Photography enthusiasts in particular should walk from the lower to the upper stream to find the ideal vantage points of the natural light shining on the stream and surrounding foliage. The trail is an easy walk without any challenging climbs. The four-hour full trekking route from the pleasure boat pier of Lake Towada (Nenokuchi bus stop) to Yakeyama bus stop close to the Oirase Stream Museum is as follows:
Nenokuchi - (20min) - Choshi Otaki - (50min) - Kumoi no Nagare - (30min) - Kumoi no Taki - (30m) - Makado Iwa - (15min) – Ishigedo - (70min) - Yakeyama
The best time to enjoy the area’s verdant greens is from mid-May to mid-June. Gorgeous autumn leaves are at their best from mid to late October. Journey times may be slower due to traffic congestion during these peak seasons. Beat the crowd by starting your trek in the early morning and you will also have the chance to see the fantastic morning dews sparkling in the sunshine filtering through the foliage.

Asamushi Onsen

Enjoy stunning sunset views at this hot spring resort on Mutsu Bay!

Asamushi Onsen
The scenic local “Aoimori Railway” line connects Aomori and the hot spring town of Asamushi Onsen. The free foot bath outside Asamushi Onsen station welcomes visitors with an exhilarating introduction to their Onsen experience. The Onsen town consists of two areas: the east side is a traditional hot spring town while the west side is a beach resort facing the sea.
With its narrow alleys lined with traditional hot spring inns and eateries, the eastern part of town displays the unchanged scenery of the old hot spring town. Here visitors can poach their own eggs in the hot spring waters at the “Onsen egg place” and the nearby drinking fountain is said to be beneficial for digestion. Other attractions on the east side are Asamushi Onsen Forest Park, recognised as one of Japan’s best 100 forest bathing locations and Asamushi Aquarium known for its popular dolphin performances.
Ocean lovers can enjoy bathing, windsurfing, yachting and fishing at the artificial sandy beach “Sunset Beach Asamushi” on the west side of town. The nearby Michi-no-Eki “Yusa Asamushi” is a roadside station offering a large hot spring bath with a panoramic view of Mutsu Bay. The luxury hotels lined along the Mutsu Bay coast offer popular modern hot spring resort experiences, the perfect place to enjoy a spectacular sunset view!
The clear hot spring water is pure, odourless, smooth to touch and moisturising on the skin. Along with promoting beautiful skin, the water is said to be beneficial for neuralgia, rheumatism, backache and a range of other ailments.
Day2

Matsushima Bay and the four best viewing locations (Shitaikan)

Unbeatable locations to enjoy views across Matsushima Bay

Matsushima Bay and the four best viewing locations (Shitaikan)
Along with Amanohashidate in Kyoto and Miyajima in Hiroshima, Matsushima Bay is known as one of Japan’s top three scenic views. The bay is dotted with some 260 islands of various sizes. The best locations for a panoramic view of these islands are known as the Shitaikan and each location has a nickname describing its view.
The Sokan (magnificent view) from Mount Otakamori at 105.8m above sea level offers a view of Matsushima Bay from the east. Visitors can enjoy a 360° panoramic view of Matsushima Bay while feeling as if they were at their own private water villa. The view includes the Sagakei cliffs and the distant Zao mountain range.
The Reikan (elegant view) from Mount Tomiyama at 116.8m above sea level is the highest viewpoint of the Shitaikan. Visitors can enjoy a graceful view of Matsushima Bay from the peaceful garden of Daigyoji Temple enshrining Tomiyama Kannon at the top of the mountain.
The Ikan (grand view) from Mount Tamon at 55.6m above sea level offers views of the bay and Shiogama port with its ships gracefully entering and departing.
The Yukan (spiritual view) from Ogidani highland at 55.8m above sea level provides a panoramic view of Matsushima Bay and the beautiful fan-shaped inlet spanning to the bay before you. The Yukan is also known for its stunning display of autumn leaves.
After enjoying the magnificent view from the Shitaikan, a pleasure boat ride through the islands is another popular attraction. Feeding the flock of seagulls from the boat will be one of the many local memories that will remain with you!

Sakunami Onsen

A hidden hot spring for successive Sendai feudal lords

Sakunami Onsen
Sakunami Onsen was officially founded in 1796. Legend has it that the spring waters were made popular before this time by the prominent Buddhist priest Gyoki and the famous warrior Yoritomo Minamoto during his local rule.
Neighbouring attractions include the Nikka Whisky Sendai Distillery which offers a tour including the sampling of various whiskies, the pristine Okunikkawa River and the Homei Shijuhachi-taki Falls featuring an orchestral roar of falling water. A further walk takes you to Saihoji Temple and Risshakuji Temple, the latter being a famous temple in the mountains where the great poet Basho Matsuo composed one of the most popular haiku poems in Japan.
Learn about the effects of hot spring water
Simple hot springA clear, colorless, tasteless, and odorless hot spring. Even if the temperature of the spring is 25°C, none of the ingredients are in the specified amount. It has little stimulation and various effects. Many hot springs are called "famous hot springs.
The main benefits areRelieves fatigue, neuralgia, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, etc.
Salt-containing glauber's salt springIt contains a lot of sodium and is good for hypertension. It is said to be good for arteriosclerosis, trauma, chronic arthritis, etc. when used as a bath.
The main benefits areNeuralgia, muscle pain, chronic skin disease, high blood pressure, etc.
Please check the official website for the latest information.
Day3

Okama Crater of Zao

Zao’s iconic crater-lake changes hues depending on the sunlight

Okama Crater of Zao
Located on the border of Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, the Zao Mountain Range has been selected as one of Japan’s 100 most famous mountains. Okama Crater is a crater-lake surrounded by three mountains (Kattadake, Kumanodake and Goshikidake) and, along with its frost-covered trees, is an iconic image of the Zao Mountains. Nicknamed the “Cauldron” because of its appearance, Okama Crater is also known locally as “Goshikinuma” (the five-coloured pond) thanks to the changing hues of the water from dark green to blue according to the sunlight. The colours of the crater-lake also fascinate visitors as they change depending on the angle of view. The lake is a kilometre in circumference, 325m in diameter, and has a depth of 27.6m. There is no life in the lake due to strong acidity of the water.
The crater is accessible via a scenic drive along the Zao Echo Line, traversing the Zao Mountains from east to west, to the Zao High Line. The Zao Summit Rest House along the way offers a restaurant and gift shop with a splendid view of Okama Crater. The Zao Echo Line and Zao High Line are open from late April to early November. Please be mindful that these mountain roads are closed during winter.
There is an easy 10-minute trail from Okama Crater to the top of Mount Kattadake (1758m) where the Kattamine Shrine stands worshipping the incarnation of Zao.
The one-hour “Umanose” trekking path leading to Mount Kumanodake offers magnificent views of Okama Crater. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and suitable clothes.
* The roads and paths around the crater are subject to closure for safety reasons. Please refer to the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s website for the latest warnings.

Bandai-Azuma Skyline

Enjoy a scenic drive to the clouds in the sky!

Bandai-Azuma Skyline
With a maximum elevation of 1,622m, the Bandai Azuma Skyline is a scenic driving route meandering through the Azuma mountain range, between Takayu Onsen and Tsuchiyu Toge Pass. Selected as one of Japan’s top 100 roads, driving the alpine road through the fleecy clouds demonstrates the worthiness of its name “Skyline”.
You won’t be able to take your eyes off the breathtakingly diverse scenery ranging from lush greenery to wild volcanic landscapes. Early spring ice walls on either side of the road and the changing leaves of autumn are seasonal spectacles.
Don’t miss the Azuma Hakkei (Eight Views of Azuma) selected by the noted writer Yasushi Inoue. The highlight of the drive is the Fudosawa Bridge spanning over the Tsubakuro Valley. The view from the bridge is spectacular and makes visitors feel as if they were floating in the sky.
Along the way, Jododaira is a good place to take a break as it is home to a rest house, visitor centre and observatory. A hiking trail to Mount Azuma Kofuji, popular for its monstrous crater known as the “Cauldron”, also starts here. The gigantic crater is a must visit, while fumes can be seen emitting from the nearby active volcano, Mount Issai Kyozan.
Be sure to confirm opening times before travelling as the Bandai Azuma Skyline is closed during winter.

Takayu Onsen

Unexplored Hot Springs in Tohoku

Takayu Onsen
The hot spring village is located on a plateau at an elevation of 750 meters and is known as one of the "Three High Hot Springs of Oshu" along with Zao and Shirabu.
The hot spring is still gushing with the same hot spring water as when it was first opened in the Edo period.
The hot water that has just bubbled out is clear and colorless, but when exposed to the air, it becomes cloudy white due to the formation of hot water spores.
This cloudy sulfur spring water has high medicinal value and is said to be effective for neuralgia, diabetes, and atopic dermatitis.

Souce-of-spring power
According to the results of a demonstration project to verify the medical treatment effects of Takayu Onsen, all of Takayu's major sources have one of the highest levels of antioxidant power in Japan. This is very rare in Japan, and the fact that the hot spring has been drawing hot water for more than 400 years since its opening in the Edo period without changing the hot water supply method is remarkable and a blessing in disguise.

Onsen Power
Since the opening of the bathhouse, we have continued to insist on "free-flowing hot-spring water. All bathtubs in the district draw hot water from a natural spring, and the overflowing hot water is discharged as it is, using the natural flow method that takes advantage of the difference in elevation of the ground without pumping by machine. Our predecessors in Takayu have experienced and passed on the best way to enjoy the "power of hot water" to the maximum extent.


Local Power
The ancient custom of "no noise at all" in Takayu has forbidden any recreational activities for the purpose of recuperation. The community has also avoided large-scale development that would be inappropriate for this area and continues to protect the quiet environment of the mountain gorge. It is because the entire community has respected the nature of Agatsuma and inherited its hot springs that the "Takayu Onsen" as it was when the hot spring was first opened still exists today.


Located halfway up Mt. Azuma, it is an ideal place for trekking, driving along the Bandai-Azuma Skyline, and sightseeing in Fukushima City.
Each inn has its own unique outdoor baths and indoor baths that retain the atmosphere of a therapeutic hot spring, allowing you to enjoy the luxury of hot spring water itself.
Day4

Mount Yahiko

A sacred mountain as high as the Tokyo Skytree, suitable for hikers of all abilities

Mount Yahiko
Mount Yahiko rises 634 metres above the ground – as high as the Tokyo Skytree – and is a popular location for hikers of all levels. The walking trail starts 15 minutes’ walk from Yahiko station and it takes about 90 minutes to walk to the top of the mountain. The top is also accessible by the Yahikoyama Ropeway or by car via the Yahikoyama Skyline. The mountain trails are well maintained and an easy walk even for children. The mountain ropeway is also available if you would prefer to climb one-way.
At Yahiko Sancho Park located at the top of Mount Yahiko visitors can enjoy a stunning view of the Echigo Plains and the Sea of Japan from the restaurant or the Panorama Tower featuring a 360° rotating observation room. The night view from here has been selected as one of the 100 most beautiful night views in Japan, the view of the Echigo Plains under the starry night sky is spectacular!
The Okusha of Yahiko Shrine located atop Mount Yahiko has been used to worship Mount Yahiko since ancient times. Breathe the fresh air at this shrine and feel its sacred energy.
GOAL
  • Oirase Mountain Stream
  • Asamushi Onsen
  • Matsushima Bay and the four best viewing locations (Shitaikan)
  • Sakunami Onsen
  • Okama Crater of Zao
  • Bandai-Azuma Skyline
  • Takayu Onsen
  • Mount Yahiko

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