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Go Off-the-Beaten Path in Tohoku, Japan

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If you do an online search for “Japan travel,” you’ll likely be flooded with images of crowded neon-lit streets and of cherry blossoms and pagodas against the backdrop of Mount Fuji. But beyond these popular sites awaits a region that’s as intriguingly undiscovered as it is accessible: Tohoku. The northernmost swath of Japan’s main island, Tohoku features centuries-old temples and pristine lakes and forested mountains, within a few hours’ high-speed train ride from Tokyo. Here’s a closer look.
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Back in the 9th century, Tohoku was called Michinoku—a name that translated to “land beyond roads.” Upon your arrival in the region, you’ll see why: Nature still plays protagonist in this region’s narrative. As you journey north from Tokyo,...
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1-1 Ōtemachi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima-ken 965-0873, Japan
Sendai is Tohoku’s largest city, with more than a million inhabitants. But it’s the smaller cities that count Tohoku’s grandest historical treasures. Tsuruga Castle in Aizuwakamatsu saw one of the Japanese Revolution’s largest battles in 1868,...
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Kakunodatemachi, Semboku, Akita Prefecture 014-0300, Japan
Those seeking a quaint vibe and a bounty of cherry blossoms in spring will find both in Kakunodate. Founded in 1620 as a settlement for approximately 80 Samurai families, the wooden house district meticulously maintains its 17th-century...
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Japan, 〒606-0000 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, 比叡山一本杉
To rest your feet, look no further than your local ryokan—the Japanese term for “inn.” Most ryokans offer sumptuous multicourse meals for dinner and breakfast, showcasing the region’s specialties, from seafood to homemade noodles. Ryokans that...
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Yamamoto Ouchi, Shimogou, Minamiaizu District, Fukushima Prefecture 969-5207, Japan
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...