Tohoku may be sparsely populated, but it’s still the people who will help shape your journey here, whether they be local guides, hotel staff, shop owners, or other individuals you encounter. Stop by the food stalls in the history-rich town of Ouchijuku for a warm hello and an equally warm snack. Chat up the saleswoman for recommendations: the rice dumpling if you’re craving a simple treat or the grilled char if you’re in the mood for a savory specialty. Pop your head into the shops in Ouchijuku, Kakunodate, and Aizuwakamatsu, taking time to marvel at the ceramics, paper products, and cherry wood carvings, and allow yourself to be spirited away by the shopkeepers’ tales of ages past. Wherever you find yourself, make time to say hello, and the people of Tohoku will make you feel right at home.