Japan has one of the richest traditions in the world and it is very attractive to tourists. It is hard to decide where to start from, and one of the decisions can be Tohoku located in the far north of Japan. There are a lot of myths that involve this location and many cultural sites you can visit. Beautiful nature is the second thing Tohoku offers.
Many people are going to this area in order to find peace and relief from stress. You should just plan a trip and get away from a daily routine. Learning about historical sites and the story behind it can be very interesting because some of them are from the samurai ages. While you enjoy visiting these wonderful places you will also learn a lot.
History of Samurai
Formerly home to the native Emishi people, Tohoku has a large feudal history. It was established by multiple samurai clans within the 7th and 9th centuries, many years later than in southwestern and central Japan. The lord of the Satake clan Ashina Yoshikatsu established Kakunodate which is one of the best-maintained samurai quarter.
The buildings that are left and still standing are turned into museums where you can see how life was in feudal time. It is also free to check the interior. Beautiful cherry trees are going through the main street of the district making a path. If you saw pictures online of cherry trees pathways, this may be one of them.
The first UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in Tohoku was the Hiraizumi town. It is a unique architectural design that resembles that time. At the time Fujiwara clan was ruling the area. They were gold mining in the 12th century. The Chuson-Ji temple is the Hiraizumi’s main attraction which is a complex of over 300 buildings. Unfortunately, there was a fire in 1337 where only 2 buildings survived.
Legends and Myths
With a long spiritual tradition, Tohoku is a place of legend and myth. Dewa Sanzan is just one of the sacred lands you can find there. The three peaks of it named Mt Yudono, Mt Gassan, and Mt Haguro represented rebirth, death, and birth. At a certain time of the year, many mountain priests gather with thousands of pilgrims and travel through these three mountains.
The village of Risshaku-Ji isn’t far away from the mountains. This area is interesting because of its 1000 steps made out of stone that lead to the temple. Maybe it is hard to make it to the top, but an amazing view is guaranteed. Also, you should think about saving strength for going down the steps.
Near the tip of Japan’s main island is the Shimokita Peninsula. The biggest island is named Honshu where you can visit Osorezan temple. One of the myths is related to the protector of children Jizo Bosatsu that can local citizens tell you more about. When a large tsunami and earthquake hit Japan in 2011 many people came to this temple to find hope. Other interesting facts are related to Tono Valley where you can hear stories about Kappa, the water imp, and about spirits and ghosts.
When it comes to nature, one of Tohoku’s best features is the mountain terrains. You should always have an experienced guide with you to lead through dense forests and volcanic peaks. If you plan to visit it in summer, you should go to the Lake Towada where you can rest and enjoy crystal clear water. A collection of hundreds of sea-battered islands is the main attraction at Matsushima. Read more on this link.
People usually want to visit places at the time when there are a lot of festivals and Tohoku is full of them. Sendai Tanabata Matsuri is one of the biggest festivals in the region. They are celebrating an old legend by making thousands of paper decorations and many other things.
The legends said that Altair and Vega, two starts, fell in love. Unfortunately, it wasn’t their destiny. A huge parade is made where local people are balancing lanterns on huge poles in the middle of the street. You can always hear traditional music in the background. At that point of the year, it is best to visit Tohoku.