Tohoku is in the north of Japan. The place is known for having beautiful snow scenes and is a competitive destination for snow sports. Check out this list of Tohoku winter sightseeing destinations that are famous for their snowy landscapes in Tohoku Region.
Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival – Aomori Prefecture
Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival is one of the five major snow festivals in Tohoku. There will be about 150 colorful large snow lanterns, and statues will be placed in the castle park. Besides the lanterns and statues, you don’t want to miss the winter landscape created by 300 illuminated mini-kamakura (snow domes) and other snow sculptures surrounding Hirosaki Castle.
At the main venue, people usually prepare a giant snow statue of historical buildings and a slide. Cherry blossom trees in the outer moat area also are illuminated, creating a romantic atmosphere for the winter days. The event is free of charge, and people of all ages, regardless of gender, are welcome.
Geibikei Gorge – Iwate Prefecture
This gorge in Iwate Prefecture offers a variety of landscape, depending on what season you are visiting, from spring and summer to autumn and winter. It looks the most impressive in winter, when the view sometimes is said to be like an ink painting with boats slowly passing through the river surface flowing through the deep and quiet valley, fish swimming and some lovely ducks chasing the boats.
You also can feel old-time Japan through the scenery there. If you are in the area from December to February, we recommend you take a boat ride while being warmed up with the kotatsu table attached. They even offer a local delicacy of Kinagashi Nabe Hotpot.
Price for boat ride: 1,800 yen for adults; 900 yen for elementary school students; and 200 yen for infants. *A reservation is required for a ride with Hot Pot.
Yokote Kamakura Festival – Akita Prefecture
Be prepared to be amazed with this 450-year-old festival. Approximately 100 Kamakura snow domes over 3 meters in height are placed throughout the city. On the day of the main event, people will be served amazake and rice cakes in a lit-up snow Kamakura. Experience a whole new world with the cute little Kamakura too. Once there, we also recommend you have a bite of Yokote Yakisoba, a Yokote local gourmet.
Miyagi Zao Sumikawa Snow Park – Miyagi Prefecture
Famous for the rare rime (frost) on trees, Miyago Zao Sumikawa Snow Park is where you can find rime on the slopes and mountain roads. It takes around 45 minutes for a one-way drive on the snowfield to the rime-viewing point. Both beginners and advanced skiers can enjoy this ski destination, so you can go on the outbound route by snowmobile, take a look around at the tree rime and ski down on the return route. Come and experience the mysterious landscape of the giant rime trees, which are called the snow monsters, up close.
Prices: 10,000 to 5,000 yen for adults; 6,000 to 4,000 yen for children. *Price varies depending on the date and class of use.
Pageant of Starlight – Sendai City
SENDAI Pageant of Starlight is the main illumination event held for a limited time in winter. People consider it to be the symbol of the city. Take a leisurely walk in the middle of the glittering Zelkova lined boulevards to enjoy the beautiful view.
Zao Ropeway – Yamagata Prefecture
At Zao Ropeway, you can enjoy the magnificent rime fields below you from above as well as skiing and snowboarding in winter. The rimes are illuminated at night, and night cruisers are available for guests to enjoy the view up close. Besides its rime fields, the Zao area is famous for its Zao Onsen hot spring town. Situated at the foot of Mount Zao, Zao Onsen allows you to soak in the open-air bath in the middle of the snowy landscape and enjoy Yamagata delicacies. If you are in the area, we recommend you stay a night at Zao Onsen and enjoy the silver world of winter.
Ropeway fare (round-trip): 3,000 yen for adults (junior high school students and above); 1,500 yen for children (elementary school students); and free for preschoolers.
Daiichi Tadami Line Bridge Viewpoint (Tadami River Bridge Viewpoint) – Fukushima Prefecture
Tadami Line is a popular railway that always has been ranked as a top-class railway with beautiful sceneries throughout the year, from the autumn colors to the snowy landscapes. It also is one of the most romantic railways in the world. Many travelers stay on the train until the last stop just to admire the breathtaking landscapes without getting off.
The Daiichi Tadami Line Bridge Viewpoint offers a particularly fascinating view of the JR Tadami Line running along Tadami River. The viewpoint is popular during autumn for its autumn foliage, but we strongly recommend you visit in winter to see the entire area covered in the white snow. If you are able to go there, remember to enjoy the train both ways, from the train window and with the beautiful scenery in the background.
Photo credit: Ma Yansong / MAD Architects, “Tunnel of Light” (Echigo-Tsumari Art Field)
Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel – Niigata Prefecture
Kiyotsu Gorge is one of Japan’s three major canyons in Japan. It has been so popular on the internet as an artistic photo spot. With a length of 750 meters, this tunnel is called the “Tunnel of Light,” which is divided into five areas including Wood, Soil, Minerals, Fire and Water, and other art spaces. When reaching the final area of Water space, one will be welcomed with a stunning natural landscape spreading beyond the semi-circular tunnel with silhouettes of the visitors reflected in the water spread all over the floor. You won’t be able to see it elsewhere.