Tohoku Tour: The Highlights of Northern Japan

Visit bustling Tokyo, picturesque Hakone then head to the northern region of Tohoku, and explore the top destinations such as Aizu Wakamatsu, Yamadera, Sakata and more

16 Days
Yamagata, Fukushima, Kanagawa, Miyagi, Tokyo

Highlights

  • Discover Tokyo, the busy, colorful and enchanting capital which blends traditional and modern in a perfect manner
  • Enjoy a day in Hakone that offers amazing nature scapes shaped by its volcanic past, and catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji
  • Explore the north of the main island, Tohoku, and immerse in its history, traditions and flavors

Description

Embark on the Tohoky tour and visit some of the best destinations northern Japan has to offer. Start your journey in Tokyo, and spend a few days exploring the city. Check out elegant Ginza, bustling Odaiba, traditional Asakusa and more. Escape the city for a day and head to Hakone, which offers wonderful views of nature shaped by its volcanic past. Contine on to the north and make a stop in Aizu Wakamatsu - its castle and samurai past are surely impressive. Your journey will further take you to Ouchijuku, which has preserved its typical charming traditional look as well as Kaminoyama Onsen, famous for its "onsen" hot springs. You will be also touring Yamadera, Sakata and Dewa Sanzan, all with distinctive historical and traditional features. Your visit to the northern area will conclude with Sendai, the largest city and most important economic hub of Tohoku. Try the local delicacies here, and stroll the city. Make sure you take a little side trip to picturesque Matsushima, famous for its numerous small islets. 

Details

Itinerary

Day 1: Tokyo
After you have landed at one of the two international airports - Haneda or Narita International Airport, you can conveniently pick up your Japan Railway Pass there, which serves as a ticket for the majority of public transport throughout your trip. After the transfer to your hotel, you have the opportunity to use the evening to relax or explore the big city. For example, you may visit the Imperial Palace, which is close to your hotel, as well as the Parliament Building inspired by German architects and the posh Ginza shopping district.
Accommodation: Red Planet Tokyo Asakusa or similar class

Day 2: Tokyo
Explore one of the most exciting cities on your own and discover the unique combination of tradition and modernity. In the morning, visit the famous fish market, which has just moved to Toyosu and is now shining in new splendor. From here you can easily reach Odaiba, the artificial island in Tokyo Bay, on which the famous Digital Art Museum and the Fuji Television building are located. Stroll along the beach promenade, from which you can see two of the city's landmarks - the Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge. From there, a water taxi goes to Asakusa. While riding, you can observe the surroundings from the water before visiting the famous Sensoji Temple and the surroundings in Asakusa. Explore the area in a rickshaw, for example, before continuing to Tokyo Skytree - the tallest tower in the world. Here you can admire the evening skyline.
Accommodation: Red Planet Tokyo Asakusa or similar class

Day 3: Hakone
From Shinjuku you start your day trip to Hakone, a region known primarily for its hot springs and a huge national park. In Shinjuku you can already buy the Hakone Free Pass, which serves as a ticket for many modes of transport in Hakone - including the cable car and boat. Start with a cable car ride to Owakudani, a volcanic valley with many hot springs, which is also known for the eggs boiled in the volcanic water and therefore black. Then the cable car ride continues to Lake Ashi. From here you can cross the lake by boat and, with a little luck, catch a great view of Mount Fuji. Right next to the jetty is the Hakone Shrine, which is picturesquely located in the forest and is definitely worth a visit. In the evening you return to Tokyo.
Accommodation: Red Planet Tokyo Asakusa or similar class

Day 4: Tokyo
Experience the contrasts of the capital today. Start at Ueno Park, which invites you to take a leisurely stroll away from the hectic neighborhoods. Here is also the Tokyo National Museum, one of the largest in the world, which has an impressive collection of cultural treasures and archaeological exhibits from Japan and Asia. The area around Ueno and Okachimachi also has many small, cozy shopping streets full of traditional restaurants. Not far away is the area around Nippori, which is considered one of the old city areas of Tokyo and has small shrines and a wonderful street market. Nearby you will find the Rikugien Garden, which is considered the most beautiful landscape garden in Toyko and was created around the year 1700. Enjoy the evening in the Mecca for electronics and Japanese popular culture - Akihabara. A variety of restaurants and karaoke bars await you here and you can try your luck in one of the many arcades.
Accommodation: Red Planet Tokyo Asakusa or similar class

Day 5: Aizu Wakamatsu
In the morning we take the Shinkansen bullet train towards Aizu Wakamatsu. The city was one of the last samurai strongholds on the main island and the scene of resistance to the new government. Besides, the city is known for its first class sake. Visit the Suehiro sake brewery and enjoy a taste. You should also visit Tsuruga Castle, from which the last samurai resisted the new reforms in 1868. The adjoining garden with a beautiful tea house takes you back in time as well as a visit to the nearby museum.
Accommodation: Shosuke-no-Yado Takinoyu or similar class

Day 6: Ouchijuku
Embark on a journey through time today and visit Ouchijuku, a place that was on the trade route towards Tokyo at the time of the shogunate and provided travelers with provisions and accommodation. The area is deliberately traditional, you will not find any power lines here, but will see the place as it looked years ago. Sample regional delicacies while strolling through the main street. In the afternoon, return to Aizu and visit Bukeyashiki, the former samurai residence, which is interspersed with extensive gardens, tea houses and living quarters. From there it is not far to Iimoriyama, a mountain dedicated to 19 young samurai and offering a great view of the city.
Accommodation: Shosuke-no-Yado Takinoyu or similar class

Day 7: Kaminoyama Onsen
Today we continue by train to Yamagata Prefecture, which is known for its mountains and impressive temples. The small town of Kaminoyama Onsen near Yamagata City is one of the many places that have sprung up around healing springs. There are public onsen hot springs to relax here. The Kaminoyama Castle houses a small museum with local treasures, while one of the former residences can be visited in the partially preserved Samurai district. There is also Harusamean, where a well-known monk lived and taught Zen Buddhism. The area is very non-touristy and quiet, you will spend the night in Yamagata City to be ready for your trip the next day.
Accommodation: Nanukamachi Hotel or similar class

Day 8: Yamadera
Today you start your day trip from Yamagata to one of the most beautiful temple complexes. The complex, which is over 860 years old, stretches up several levels to the mountainside and offers a spectacular view of the valley. The famous poet Basho wrote his most famous haiku here, inspired by the peculiarity of the place. Climb the more than 1000 levels to the highest platform where you will be rewarded with unique scenery and have the beauty of nature around you. In the village itself there is also the Fuga no Kuni, an area in which, in addition to restaurants and small souvenir shops, there is also a museum dedicated to the poet Basho, which you can visit for relaxation after climbing the temple. In the evening, return to Yamagata.
Accommodation: Nanukamachi Hotel or similar class

Day 9: Sakata
Relax from the temple climb today and take the train to Sakata, past small villages and picturesque nature. During the feudal period, the city was a thriving trading metropolis and an important hub for rice. Enjoy the evening city on a walk, or take a short trip to the fishing village of Yuzu, 30 minutes away, which is known for its impressive fishing memorial, the Jūroku Rakan Iwa, which was carved into the lava rock on the coast. End the day with regional delicacies.
Accommodation: Wakaba Ryokan Sakata or similar class

Day 10: Sakata
Explore the highlights of Sakata today. Visit the Honma Residence, the former headquarters of the region's most influential trading family, and the Sankyo warehouse, which used to store rice. The local rice museum shows how important it was for society at that time. Then visit the historic Somaro tea house, where you can meet Maiko, Geisha in training and have a regional lunch with them. You should also visit the Honma Art Museum with its wonderful Japanese garden.
Accommodation: Wakaba Ryokan Sakata or similar class

Day 11: Dewa Sanzan - Haguro 
Today we go on a day trip from Sakata to one of the three sacred mountains called Dewa Sanzan. These are the center of Shugendo, a natural religion that unites Buddhism and Shintoism. The Haguro mountain is very easy to reach from Sakata and easy to climb. The ascent is via stone steps and leads past centuries-old cedars. At the summit is the main shrine of Dewa Sanzan and a wonderful wooden pagoda. In the evening you return to Sakata.
Accommodation: Wakaba Ryokan Sakata or similar class

Day 12: Sendai
In the morning you leave the small port city and make your way to Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region. The many gardens and green areas gave it the nickname "City of Trees" and invite you to stroll. Visit the Ichibancho Arcade, the well-known shopping street, where you can find a variety of shops and restaurants. There is also a whiskey distillery from the well-known Japanese brand Nikka, which you can visit and take a taste of it.
Accommodation: Hotel Vista Sendai or similar class 

Day 13: Sendai
Sendai was home to the "one-eyed dragon of the north", Date Masamune, who went down in history as one of the most capable and best-known princes of Japan. Visit his mausoleum, where Date and 20 of his most loyal followers were laid to rest. The architecture is unusually detailed and, unlike many other buildings, colorful and elaborate. The City Museum also has exhibits and information about the Date Clan. In the evening you should visit the Ichibancho Arcades and enjoy the city's specialty - beef tongue grilled over charcoal.
Accommodation: Hotel Vista Sendai or similar class

Day 14: Matsushima
Today, a day trip from Sendai is recommended. The Bay of Matsushima is considered the most beautiful in all of Japan and is best known for its picturesque islets overgrown with pine trees. Enjoy the view, for example, on a boat trip through the bay, before visiting Zuiganji Temple, which is the most important Zen temple in the Tohoku region. Relax with a cup of tea in the Kanrantei tea house, where the princes used to receive noblewomen and princesses. From there you have a wonderful view of the bay. Later you will cross the mainland to the nearby island of Oshima, where monks used to meditate. In the evening you return to Sendai.
Accommodation: Hotel Vista Sendai or similar class

Day 15: Tokyo 
Ride back to the capital in the morning. Visit the Sugamo area. Here you will find what you are looking for, especially when looking for souvenirs and Japanese clothing and jewelry. Kappabashi, on the other hand, is a district in which mainly kitchen utensils are sold and where the "plastic food", which is displayed in many restaurants, can be purchased. The Ikebukuro skyline is dominated by the Sunshine 60, a 60-story skyscraper from which you can enjoy a perfect view of Tokyo. The SKY CIRCUS Sunshine60 Observatory also shows various types of the latest technologies, which are full of surprises and make the view a real experience. Enjoy the evening skyline and say goodbye to the metropolis.
Accommodation: Red Planet Tokyo Asakusa 

Day 16: End of tour
After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, ride to the airport and start your journey home from there.

Important information

Included in price

  • 15 overnight stays in 3 and 4 star hotels with breakfast included
  • 14 day valid JR Pass
  • 16 days pocket WiFi (including 50% insurance of the device)

Not included

  • Meals other than breakfast
  • Travel other than that covered by JR pass
  • Entrance fees
  • Personal expenses

Tour price: from 196,000 yen per person, based on twin room occupancy. 
Minimum of two persons are required for this tour to run. 
For further details and questions, contact us at <tours@japantravel.com>

Meeting point

Tokyo International airport - Haneda or Narita International Airport is the starting point of the tour. 

View Directions

Organised by Japan Travel KK

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