Tohoku Region, the northernmost of the islands located on Honshu Island, the largest in the Japanese archipelago. It includes 6 prefectures, each of them will be considered in more detail.
This prefecture is famous for its natural beauty. Part of the Shirakami-Santi mountain range is located here, because of the diversity of flora and fauna included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.In addition to the oldest beech forest, the largest in Japan, Lake Towada is located in this park – the largest crater lake on Honshu Island. Millions of tourists visit Akita every year just to admire its picturesque views.Towada is not the only lake in the prefecture. No less popular with tourists is Lake Tazawa – the deepest in Japan. Its water is so transparent that it is often possible to see everything that happens at a depth of up to 30 meters.
On the shore of Lake Tazawa there is a monument to the heroine of one of the local legends. Once upon a time there lived a girl Tatsuko, who drank so much water from a rejuvenating spring that she turned into a dragon and is now forced to live in the waters of Lake Tazawa
Not far from Towada is the town of Odate, one of the main pride of which is the private bakery "Sandorien". She specializes in the production of the well-known Borodino bread. This is very unusual for Japan, since bread is eaten here little and mostly white, it is almost impossible to meet pastries made from rye flour. Bread from "Sandorien" is so Russian that even the Russian embassy in Japan appreciated it, and the locals consider it a delicacy and buy it only on special occasions. The bakery often flashes in the news and newspapers, journalists are always ready to shoot another story about real Russian bread.Dogs brought worldwide fame to the prefecture. The famous Hachiko, who became a symbol of loyalty and devotion, belonged to the Akita Inu breed, which appeared in ancient times. It is not surprising that the first clubs of lovers of these dogs were organized in the VI century.The prefecture annually hosts the grand Akita Kanto Festival. Festival participants carry long bamboo poles, completely hung with lanterns. Initially, the holiday was a ritual that scares away evil spirits and guarantees a good harvest.
As in Akita Prefecture, there are many beautiful natural corners in Aomori. The second part of the Shirakami-Santi Park is located right here. Aomori got three Ammon waterfalls, which are called the First, Second and Third.There are also magnificent 12 lakes with the purest bluish water, through which branches lying at a depth of 10 meters are visible.On the site of the capital of the prefecture of the eponymous city of Aomori, there was one of the oldest human settlements dating back to the 5th century BC. Now ancient dwellings have been reconstructed here and archaeological excavations are still underway.In August, Aomori hosts a festival with Aomori Nebuta platforms. Huge statues of various mythological and historical characters, as well as celebrities, such as kabuki actors, are created by local residents for a whole year to parade around the city with them.A festival similar to this one and called Hirosaki Neputa is held in the vicinity of Hirosaki Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in Japan and the only authentic Edo castle in the Tohoku region. In addition to Hirosaki, there is a snow festival on the way here, famous for sculptures and lanterns made of snow, and the traditional admiring of cherry blossoms.Aomori is a place where unusual art is created. In the village of Inakadate, they came up with tambo - artistic decoration of rice fields. By planting different varieties of rice in a certain sequence, local farmers get real pictures in the fields.To the Japanese themselves, Aomori Prefecture is best known for its apples, which are grown here more than in any other region of the country.
There are a huge number of historical monuments on the territory of this prefecture, most of which are concentrated in Hiraizumi. One of them is the Chusonji Temple, built in the middle of the IX century. Its main attraction is the Golden Konjikido Hall, covered with gilded plates.Even earlier, the Motsuji temple was built, of which only ruins and a beautiful garden in the style of the Buddhist school of Jodo, one of the oldest in Japan, now remain. Now various festivals are constantly held there. The main action of one of them, dedicated to the Heian period, is the poetic contest "Feast at the curved Water". The new temple building serves a special ennen-cha tea, which can only be tasted here.The city of Hanamaki is known as the birthplace of the Japanese poet and writer Kenji Miyazawa, whose books for children have been translated into many languages of the world. In addition to the museum dedicated to him, there is a fabulous village in the city, filled with various installations related to his works.A real steam locomotive runs from Hanamaki to Kamaishi. Its design is based on Miyazawa's novel "Night on the Train on the Silver River", each car has an exposition dedicated to the writer, and the interiors themselves are made in the style of the early XX century, for example, stained glass windows and gas lanterns on the train. In addition, the train has a digital planetarium designed specifically for him.
If in the city of Kochi, not a meter can do without Sakamoto Ryoma, then in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, its famous founder Date Masamune, known as the One-Eyed Dragon, enjoys such universal love. The most famous monument of Sendai is his equestrian statue, located near the remaining parts of Aoba Castle. From the side of the castle there is a stunning view of the city, one of the largest in the region.Masamune and the entire Date clan are dedicated to the Zuihoden Museum complex, which includes several magnificently decorated mausoleums of the daimyo clan, including Masamune himself, as well as Date Tsunamune, most famous for the legend of Takao II, which became the basis of the famous Kabuki theater play.Date Masamune is dedicated to the Aoba Shinto Temple, on the territory of which festivals are held several times a year related to various events from his life.The main festival of Sendai is Tanabata, celebrated in early August.
It is based on the legend of the stars Weaver (Vega) and Volopas (Altair). Once upon a time they met, fell in love with each other and began to spend all their time together, completely forgetting about their duties. By this they angered the heavenly lord, the father of the Weaver, and he separated them by the Milky Way. Since then, they meet only one day a year – on Tanabatu. The most recognizable symbol of the holiday is special decorations in the form of balls with long ribbons.On Tanabata, it is customary to write down wishes on small pieces of paper, which are then hung on bamboo branches. It is believed that a wish made in this way will definitely come true. Now Sendai Tanabata is one of the largest Tanabata festivals in Japan, which attracts millions of tourists. It acquired such a scale thanks to the efforts of the same Date Masamune.In Sendai there is a colossal statue of the goddess Kannon with a height of 100 meters, which makes it one of the tallest statues in the world.The most beautiful place in Miyagi Prefecture for several centuries has been the Matsushima Islands, which are part of the group of three famous landscapes of Japan. Even the great poet Matsuo Basho had no words to describe their splendor. The writer only exclaimed "Ah!".Animal lovers also have something to visit in Miyagi. Here is the famous cat island of Tasirojima, on which there are several times more whiskered-striped than people, and the fox village in Dzao, where many red-haired cheats live in special houses.
Fukushima Prefecture has many places associated with the Boshin War, since one of its most important battles, the Battle of Aizu, took place on its territory. Its main action unfolded in 1868 at Tsuruga Castle, aka Aizu-Wakamatsu. The most famous are such defenders of Aizu as Nakano Takeko and her detachment of women, Niijima Yae, who commanded an artillery detachment thanks to her ability to handle a rifle, and the unkillable Saito Hajime, who remained in the principality after the retreat of the main troops of the shogunate and after the battle once again changed his name. The original castle has not been preserved, but through the efforts of local residents it was restored and now operates as a museum.The most famous and tragic episode of the battle for Aizu was the suicide of young men from the Byakkotai detachment who fought on the side of the shogunate. When they saw smoke rising over the city from Mount Iimori, they decided that the castle's defenses had fallen, and committed ritual suicide. Benito Mussolini, having learned about this story, was so delighted with their devotion that he presented Japan with a column from Pompeii with a request to install it at the site of the samurai's death. It is located there, not far from the whole memorial complex, established in memory of the young soldiers.In autumn, the Aizu-matsuri Festival is held in Aizu, dedicated to the events of the Boshin War. Participants wear Bakumatsu-era costumes, and some of them depict Nakano Takeko, her squad and members of Byakkotai.Another even more spectacular and popular festival of Fukushima Prefecture is called Soma Namaoi. Its participants, dressed in full military attire of the Sengoku era, reconstruct battle scenes involving cavalry. Many riders are dressed in armor characteristic of famous figures of that period, for example, Toyotomi Hideyoshi or Honda Tadakatsu.
Near the city of Tsuruoka is the Kamo Aquarium, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the owner of the largest collection of jellyfish. There are several dozen of their species, which attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists. In addition to jellyfish, you can also see other marine life in the aquarium: crabs, sea lions and octopuses. Zaō Onsen famous not only for hot springs and ski slopes, but also for such a rare phenomenon as snow monsters. A strong wind blows water droplets from the trees, which, freezing, turn the plants into huge fantastic figures.The city of Yonezawa, once the capital of a feudal principality, is located in Yamagata Prefecture. It originally belonged to the Date family, and Date Masamune lived here until he moved to Sendai. Later, Yonezawa was given into the possession of Uesugi Kagekatsu, the heir of the famous Uesugi Kenshin, the eternal opponent of the equally famous Takeda Shingen.Now there is a shrine dedicated to Kenshin in Yonezawa, where things belonging to him and other members of the Uesugi clan are stored. Also, the Uesugi Festival is held annually in the city with the obligatory reconstruction of the next Battle of Kawanakajima.