The best things to do in Japan

Website design By BotEap.comThe express trains that run from Tokyo and stretch across northern Japan to Hachinohe are called Hayabusa, Hayate, Max Yamabiko/Max Nasuno/Yamabiko/Nasuno/Hayate with stops at some of the best places in the Tohoku region. The list of stations along this line, starting from Tokyo: Ueno, Omiya, Oyama, Utsunomiya, Nasushiobara, Shin-Shirakawa, Koriyama, Fukushima, Shiroishizao, Sendai, Furukawa, Kurikoma-Kogen, Ichinoseki, Mizusawaesashi, Kitakami, Shin -Hanamaki, Morioka, Iwate-Numakunai and finally Hachinohe. Since my focus for this post is food, nihonshu, seasons, and related shrines, I will only focus on what certain seasons have to offer in this regard.

Website design By BotEap.comIn order to set the right mood, every time you ride one of these express trains, you need to pick up a nice lunch box. Both Tokyo and Ueno stations offer deluxe lunch boxes, each featuring the local delicacy of these two cities. You have to order the really good ones as there may not be any in the display case, they sell out fast. The next noteworthy station along this line would be Utsunomiya Station. From there, if you have a JR train pass, you can get off at this station and go down to MinMin, which is a famous gyoza place to rest without having to leave the station building, and since this is where most of the tourists like to visit for gyoza, you are likely to discover a new flavor. Every time I’m here I stop in for a good set of gyoza.

Website design By BotEap.comThe next stop on this line is Nasushiobara in Tochigi, famous for its hot springs, cheese, and some good-tasting nihonshu; a recommendation would be Daina and Souhomare. After that stop, you have Shin-Shirakawa. Some of the best Fukushima-style ramen places are here, especially if you like wantan (dumpling) in your ramen. This is the city that also has my favorite candy store called Akebono’s. Koriyama is the next stop with its delicious mango cakes and sweets. One stop after this is a major stop at Fukushima Station, which connects four other lines; Yamagata Shinkansen, Ou Line, Tohoku Line, Abukuma Kyuko and Fukushima Kotsu. From Fukushima Station you can enjoy a nice super sento public bath which is built right into the station building near the back, and then enjoy a nice cheesecake at the Italian Bistro, all of which are located at the station.

Website design By BotEap.comFrom Fukushima you pass Shiroishizao and after that station you arrive at Sendai, another important stop. Sendai station is really cool because they have some good restaurants located inside and outside the station. I recommend crossing the main intersection and heading towards where the neon lights are. There are several gyuton shops that offer this local specialty (beef tongue/gyuton barbecue), which are actually not that bad. I still freak out a bit because it was the tongue and not the ass I was eating last time. Sendai is the largest city in Tohoku with a history dating back 20,000 years. Even during the suppression of Western religions like Catholicism and Christianity during the Tokugawa reign, Catholicism flourished here, even today.

Website design By BotEap.comAs we proceed, we come to Furukawa and Kurikoma-kogen, noted for their milky-white sulfur onsen. The hotel I stayed in while I was there. A photo I took with an IZ-20 of his private bathroom. Something else worth mentioning is this dango and this here (the photos are on the blog).

Website design By BotEap.comSome other notable places along this line would be Iwate which is famous for Chuson-ji Konjiki-do with its beautiful architecture, designs, and crafts. It is located about 9 minutes from Ichinoseki Station. I’ve been there and it’s worth it for the photos alone. If you are interested in Buddhist architecture, this place is a must. Every Japanese once in his life must make a trip to this place before he dies. That’s a true saying, by the way… And, while we’re still in Iwate, Jodogahama would be the next best place to stop with its 52 million year old volcanic rock inlet, which according to some wise monks, looks like to the Buddha heaven. By far this is the most exotic of all the beaches I have seen so far (entrance is just a fancy word for beach). Two hours from Morioka Station and 20 minutes by bus from Miyako Station, you can reach this seaside cove. If you get hungry and want to enjoy seafood near this station, any place is good. My favorite place is called Bureko and it’s run by an elderly couple who really took good care of me the whole time I was there.

Website design By BotEap.comAfter dinner, heading to Hanamaki Onsen is a must for the weary traveler with its geothermal hot springs. The famous Japanese writer Kenji Miyazawa wrote haikus about this place with its abundance of cherry trees and rose gardens. I have personally been to Hanamaki ten times; twice a year for five years and I could probably write things about this area that would thrill the imagination, but I won’t for now, there’s no time. The next day, you can head to Koiwai Farms, which is the largest integrated farm in Japan dating back more than 100 years. The nearest station is Morioka and 40 minutes by bus from there to the farm. I recommend only two things: The steak and the cheesecake!

Website design By BotEap.comThe last notable stop would be Hachinohe, and from here you can visit the Hasshoku Center, which is about 9 minutes away by bus. Here you can find a wide variety of freshly caught fish and shellfish, even shark! I took a photo of a shark that had just been snatched from the water. Finally, we have the Oirase Mountain Stream, which has a beautiful 14 km mountain stream surrounded by thick virgin jungle. From Hachinohe Station; 1 hour 45 minutes by bus. The best time to visit would be between April and October. These suggested locations are just a short introduction to this vast region of the sky. I’ve listed six top destinations and a few minor stops that I feel identify what I love about this area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *