Friday, July 27, 2018

Tohoku Tourism - Top 5 Places to Visit in Tohoku Japan ★ Road Trip through Tohoku with Nissan Rent-a-Car

● Japan's Tohoku Region 
---Japan's Most Beautiful Countryside---
Anymore Tohoku, Japan's northeastern region, 
 is usually thought of as the region that was hit
by the great earthquake and tsunami back in March 2011.
However, the Tohoku region of Japan is SUCH a stunning place
more and more people are wanting to remind the world JUST how
fantastic of a place Tohoku really is. 

Over the past years, 
JAPANKURU has been all around Japan's mountain area Tohoku,
but this time we went to some places that we felt really shows off
the regions stunning mountains, lakes, hot springs,
and everything else the area is famous and loved for.


● Consisting 6 Prefectures 
---Mountains, Waters, Fruit/Veg/Rice Fields---

● Driving around Tohoku, Japan ● 
with Nissan Rent-a-Car
 If you're going to Tohoku,
it's recommended to travel around the entire Tohoku region,
or as much as possible,
rather than traveling along only one. 
Renting a car comes in a lot of handy at moments like this
and areas like Tohoku where things are a bit spread out. 

You can visit several cities and attractions at once, 
along with minimizing the time and language barrier 
that is a drawback with public transportation.

 For reference, 
this week's Tohoku trip took about three days.
All the main sightseeing spots we went to via car rental.

● Starting Point of Your Tohoku Trip 
Nissan Rent-a-Car Sendai Station North Exit
 The starting point of the Tohoku trip started 
in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture (宮城県).

If you're traveling directly from Tohoku, 
it's recommended to use Sendai as a departure point 
because you there is an international airport.

Also, if you use the Shinkansen (bullet train) in other areas such as Tokyo, 
you can get off at Sendai station (仙台駅).
From there the Nissan Rent-a-Car dealer is located at the North Exit 

of Sendai Station, so you can get a car in no time at all.

🚙Nissan Rent-a-car Sendai Station North Exit
🏢2-1-59 Kakyoin, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0013 Japan
⏰8:00 to 20:00
- 10 minutes on foot from Sendai Station North Exit
🚅Tohoku Shinkansen (東北新幹線)
- Time required: 1 hour 30 minutes from Tokyo Station💴Economy Class 5,060 yen
💻Tohoku Shinkansen Ticket Info and Reservation (ENG)

Nissan Best Seller
The Serena can seat up to 8 people

We rented Nissan's best-selling car, the Serena,
and we can totally see why it's the best selling after driving it!
For starters,
unlike some other Japanese cars, the Serena is super spacious
and has plenty of room to put your bags.

Cell Phones and Rental Cars
Simple Bluetooth Connection!
There is also Bluetooth that you can connect your device to the car speakers.

Connecting to Bluetooth
 1. Select System Setup (システム設定)
2. Select User Settings (ユーザー設定)

 3. Select Device Registration (機器登録)
4. Select NISSAN in the Bluetooth connection list of the phone.

🚙Nissan Rent-a-car Sendai Station North Exit
🏢2-1-59 Kakyoin, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-0013 Japan
⏰8:00 to 20:00
- 10 minutes on foot from Sendai Station North Exit
🚅Tohoku Shinkansen (東北新幹線)
- Time required: 1 hour 30 minutes from Tokyo Station💴Economy Class 5,060 yen
💻Tohoku Shinkansen Ticket Info and Reservation (ENG)


● Miyagi & Yamagata Prefecture 
---Day 1---
Miyagi Prefecture


Mount Zao, Miyagi (蔵王)
Okama - Crater Lake (御釜)
The first course around the Tohoku region was Okama
located at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level 
and if you ask us, Miyagi Prefecture's best spot!!
This lake was named Okama 
after a Japanese traditional cooking pot (kama) because of its shape.
The emerald green color is loved by all,
but what's also special is that it changes colors according to the sunlight

The Okama katsudon, 
or fried pork on a bed of rice is in another realm compared to others 
due to the particular and special smell and texture of the rice. 
This dish is what people come to eat whenever
they come to view Okama✧˖°🍚°˖✧ 

- Car rental map Code: 464 129 518 * 87
Where: Inside Zao National Park, Zao-machi, Miyagi
🚌*Bus timetable*🚌 


Shiroishi, Miyagi (白石市)
Zao Fox Village (キツネの村)
The Miyagi Zao Fox Village in Miyagi Prefecture
has more than 100 adorable foxes that look like they're smiling at you!!
By far the cutest place ON EARTH!!!

You can get to the Miyagi Zao Fox Village
from either Shiroishi Station or Shiroishizao Station.
We think Shiroishizao Station is best because it only takes 20mins by taxi
and of course is less of a hassle. 
We want to also recommend you wear good shoes!
Hiking shoes are best if you have them.

Miyagi Zao Fox Village
🏢11-3 Kawarago, Fukuokayatsumiya, Shiroishi, Miyagi
- Car rental map Code: 569 139 481 * 18
🚌Access: From Shiroishi Station~ Take the Castle Kun Bus that goes to Kawarago Dam every Tuesday and Friday.
The first bus leaves Shiroishi Station at 7:58, and arrives at the Kawarago Dam at 8:55.
The second bus is from 1:35pm.
Ask the bus driver to stop in front of Zao Kitsune Mura (fox town).

From Shiroishizao Station~ take a taxi (about 20mins)
💴 Entrance fee: 1000yen (you can feed the foxes, food is 100yen/bag)


Recommended Local Miyagi Food!
Unfortunately, we can't tell you all of the recommended spots, great sights, and food in and around Sendai.

Two of the things Sendai is MOST known for is cow tongue (牛タン; gyutan)
and Sasa-Kamaboko.
The beef tongue grilled over a charcoal fire and 

whether you dip it in soy sauce, miso, or salt, 
it tastes way better than you would think! 
If you have the chance to try, please do!🐮🍴


● Yamagata & Akita Prefecture ● 
---Day 2---
Yamagata Prefecture


Yamagata City (山県市)
Yamadera (山寺)
The first place we visited during our Tohoku travel was Yamadera (山寺)!
Meaning "mountain temple",
Yamadera is a Buddhist temple representing the scenery of Yamagata and 
CNN even called it one of Japan's most beautiful temples.

It was founded during the Heian Period (794-1185) 
by Buddhist priest Jikaku Daishi as a branch temple to Enryaku-ji in Kyoto, 
one of the most significant monasteries in Japan at that time. 
Also, famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho composed one of Japan's
most influential poems, 
"Shizukasa ya/iwa ni shimi iru/semi no koe" (deep silence - the shrill of cicadas- seeps into rocks) here.

After climbing up to 1,000 steps you'll reach the main hall of the temple which 
overlooks the countryside and can also be used for meditation.
This temple is a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty and Historic Site❤

★Yamadera (山寺)
🏢4456-1, Yamadera, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 62 232 111 * 74
- Parking lot: Mountain entrance souvenir shop Motomiya
💴 Adults 300yen, junior high school students 200yen, elementary students 100yen
💻Official website link


Obanazawa, Yamagata (尾花沢市)
Ginzan Onsen (
Ginzan Hot Spring (銀山温泉) is a historic hot spring area 
in Yamagata Prefecture.
It's said that the area was originally a silver mine that operated from 1456 to the end of the 1600s. 
The hot spring was apparently discovered by chance by the coal mine workers, then was flourished into a hot spring resort in 1741.

Retro wooden buildings retained their original appearance
since the Taisho era (1912~1926) and were also used as the 

location for the NHK drama Oshin (おしん).

★Ginzan Onsen (銀山温泉)
🏢Ginzanshinhata, Obanazawa-shi, Yamagata Prefecture
- Car rental map Code: 720 859 002 * 10


● Akita & Iwate Prefecture 
---Day 3---
Akita Prefecture


Yurihonjo (由利本荘市)
Mount Chokai (鳥海山)
Mountain Chokai (鳥海山is an active volcano at 2,236m/1.3 miles 
above sea level located at the border of Yamagata and Akita Prefecture.

Mountain Chokai is also called Mt. Fuji of the Northeast region 
thanks to the ice caps that don't melt in the summer. 
From June to early October, it's open to the public and can be climbed.

★Mount Chokai (鳥海山)
🏢Fukura, Yuza, Akumi-kun, Yamagata
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 352 687 415 * 50


Akumi District (飽海郡)
Maruikesama (丸池様)
Maruikesama (丸池様) is a small valley in the forest near Chokai Mountain.
The water of this valley, which measures 
20 meters/21 yards in diameter and 5m/5.4 yards in depth. 
The springs from Chokai Mountain, 
a mysterious place where emerald green shimmering valleys 
and surrounding plants is almost like from the movie Avatar.

★Maruikesama (丸池様)
🏢57 Arakawa Suguse, Fukura, Yuza-machi, Akumi-gun, Yamagata
(山形県飽海郡遊佐町吹浦 直世荒川57)
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 352 5578 311 * 74

Akumi District (飽海郡)
Jurokurakaniwa (十六羅漢岩)
"Jurokurakaniwa" (十六羅漢岩) means sixteen arhat rocks.
They are disciples of Shakyamuni, 
who were counted for five years from 1864 in the hope of comforting the fishermen who lose their lives at sea and praying for maritime safety.

★Jurokurakaniwa (十六羅漢岩)
🏢Nishidate-7 Fukura, Yuza-machi, Akumi-gun, Yamagata
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 352 555 636 * 37
- Parking available


Semboku, Akita (仙北市)
Lake Tazawa (田沢湖)
For some of you Korean drama fans, 
you may recognize this beautiful scenery 
and golden statue from the drama "Iris".
However, Lake Tazawa (田沢湖) is made for so much more!
Not only is Lake Tazawa known for its stunning waters constantly changing shades of blue and green,
it's also Japan's deepest lake (423m/1387ft deep)!

There are many roads and courses around the lake
allowing you to be surrounded by mountains and calm waters.

The most iconic spot at Lake Tazawa is the golden beauty, 
the Statue of Tatsuko
There is a myth that goes with it, and it is said that a beautiful woman named Tatsuko wished and prayed for her beauty to last eternally.
However ended up being cursed by the gods and turned into a dragon, 
sinking into the lake below.

Lake Tazawa (田沢湖)
🏢Katajiri, Saimyoji, Nishikicho, Akita
- Car rental map Code: 280 711 377 * 66


Akita Grandmother's Ice Cream!
"Baba Hera" (ババヘラ)

The Akita region has unique street food 
that isn't easily found in other areas of Japan.
Here is an ice cream stall named "Baba Hera". 
"Baba" means grandmother in Japanese,
and she uses a tool to spread ice cream called "hera".
It's a rare sight in Japan, 
even Japanese people are surprised when this see this stall!


Semboku, Akita (仙北市)
Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉郷)
There are about 10 hot springs in the area, 
and you can enjoy each hot spring water in 7 different accommodations.
Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉郷) is a rural hot spring resort in Towada-Hachimantai National Park  (in Semboku City, Akita) and consists of Japanese-style hot spring spas scattered around the base of Mount Nyuto.

Especially, "Tsurunoyu" (鶴の湯), a place inside Nyuto Hot Springs
where the hot springs baths aren't separated by sex!
Everyone bathes together! 

It's something you can hardly find anymore in Japan.

Nyuto Onsen (乳頭温泉郷)
🏢50, Tatsuzawa National Forest, Tadawawa Lake, Sennichi, Akita
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 435 486 151 * 26
💻Official website link (ENG)


● Iwate & Miyagi Prefecture ● 
---Day 4---
Iwate Prefecture (Morioka)


Iwate District (岩手郡)
Koiwai Farm (
Koiwai Farm (小岩井農場) is a private farm in Iwate 
with loads of cows and sheep grazing on the vast fields, 
horseback riding, butter, cow milking, and more. 
There are many people who also come just to enjoy the lovely scenery.

A MUST though is trying the rich and creamy dairy products 
that are made from the animals on the farm. 

Koiwai Farm (小岩井農場)
🏢36-1, Maruyachi, Shizukuishi-machi, Iwate-gun, Iwate
Google Maps
- Car rental map Code: 81 841 884 * 18
⏰Opening hours :
April 20~September 30 - 9am~5:30pm
October 1November 4 - 9am~5pm
💴800yen for adults, 300yen for elementary school students
💻Official website link (ENG)


Hiraizumi, Iwate (平泉) 
Chuson-ji Temple (中尊寺)
The next course from Koiwai Farm was Hiraizumi that's
located in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture.
Hiraizumi is connected with the fate of one of Japan's greatest heroes, the warrior Yoshitsune.
The Buddhist temples in the Hiraizumi area have remained an important part of Japanese culture and history. 
Resulting in Hiraizumi and the temples 
being listed as a World Heritage Site in 2011.

In particular, the temple called "Chusonji Temple" (中尊寺) was founded in 850, and Buddhist monuments are still preserved to this day, and it is said that a typical building style of Hiraizumi culture can be seen.

Although it is a theorizing temple, the forest road of about 1km is very magnificent and gives a godly feeling, so even if you are not interested in the temple, it is a place worth visiting.

Special charms from Chusonji. The two in the right picture are special charms for your pet cat & dog!

Chuson-ji Temple (中尊寺)
🏢202 Koromonoseki, Hiraizumi, Iwate
- Car rental map Code: 142 282 772 * 53
- Open throughout the year
📞800 yen for adults, 500 yen for high school students, 300 yen for junior high school students, 200 yen for elementary students
- Paid parking available


Morioka's Special Cold Noodles 
Morioka Reimen (盛岡冷麺)
"Morioka reimen" is a type of cold noodle dish which was developed from a Korean noodle called Naengmyeon.
It's said to have been brought to Morioka City in 1954

by Teruto Aoki after migrating to Japan from North Korea.
Similar to the Korean version,
the Morioka version uses a light, non-spicy broth.


Matsushima, Miyagi 
Godaido Temple (五大堂)
Godaido Temple (五大堂) is somewhat of a symbol 
representing Matsushima that was first founded in 807, 
and reconstructed by Japanese warlord Date Masamune in 1604.

Although the temple isn't huge or spectacular,
it's a charming place with red bridges that connect the land to Godaido. 

It's designated a national cultural asset.
If you're lucky, you'll be able to attend a special ceremony
that is held once every 33yrs bringing out the 5 Buddhas of wisdom
kept inside the temple.

Godaido Temple (五大堂)
🏢Chonai Matsushima, Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi


Miyagi District, Miyagi (宮城郡)
Entsu-in (円通院)
Entsu-in (円通院) is a temple to honor the grandchild of Date Masamune, 
Japanese warlord and representative figure of the Sendai area.

One of the most famous features is the mausoleum decorated with Namban art motifs influencing the mission of contact with Europe during the Sengoku period roughly 400yrs ago.

The temple also has a Japanese garden attributed to Kobori Masakazu, 
or Kobori Enshu (小堀 遠州).

Entsu-in (円通院)
🏢Chonai-67 Matsushima, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi
- Car rental map Code: 110 442 169 * 81
April to the end of October - 8:30am~5pm
Late October~November - 8:30am~4:30pm
December~March - 9am~4pm
💴Adults 300yen, High school 150yen, Elementary & Junior high 100yen


● Traveling around Japan's Beautiful Nature 

---Tohoku, Japan---
Our Tohoku region trip this time was a combination of 
vast nature, food, and history. 
It was fun being in an area where you can get a taste of local attractions 
and sites that can't be enjoyed elsewhere.
We're really glad we rented a car to get around
because otherwise, we aren't sure we would have been able to see
the differences and charms of each prefecture in Tohoku
in such a short time.

Going by train is great!
But sometimes you just can't beat roadtrips💖🚙

🌟More interesting articles on road trips in Japan🌟



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