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Stunning Winter Views in Tohoku Region! Top 5 Spots for Superb Winter Scenery

The Tohoku region is filled with many spots that offer picturesque views of lush nature in every season. Below are five spots in Tohoku that you can only see during winter.

1. Snow Monsters of Mt. Zao (Yamagata)

Snow monsters (“Juhyo” in Japanese) are synonymous to the Zao area of Yamagata Prefecture. The trees that are covered in ice and snow are a natural work of art that is created by the unique weather conditions of the area. The peak of this phenomenon is around February, and during that period, you will see thickets of snow monsters that have grown massive. It is also recommended that you check them out at night, when they are lit up, as you are bound to capture quite a magical view. To get to Mt. Zao, ride the Zao Ropeway from Zao Onsen (hot spring) Town. While you will definitely enjoy the view from the windows of the train, if you get off at the station and walk to the field of snow monsters, you will be able to experience their overwhelming scale up close!

Sample ropeway fare:
Roundtrip from Jizo Sancho Station:
Adults (junior high school and older): 2,600 JPY
Children (elementary school students): 1,300 JPY

1. Snow Monsters of Mt. Zao (Yamagata)

229 Zao Onsen, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata

2. Tsugaru Plain (Mt. Iwaki) (Aomori)

Next on the list is Tsugaru Heiya (Tsugaru Plain) in the western part of Aomori Prefecture. It is also called Iwaki Bonchi (Iwaki Basin). As its name suggests, it is a plain that occupies a stretch of the Iwaki River basin that commands a view of the 1,625m-tall Mt. Iwaki. Vast fields spread around this area, while the hilly side is filled with apple orchards, and the foot of the mountain is dotted with hot spring resorts such as Hyakuzawa Onsen (Hyakuzawa Hot Spring). You can see beautiful sceneries here in every season, but when winter sets in, you will get to meet the mysterious ginsekai (world of silver or snowy world) wherein the entire area will be covered in snow. The view is particularly superb during the time of day when the sun reflects on the snow, such as sunrise or sunset. It will feel like you are in a magical world that can only be found in stories.

2. Tsugaru Plain (Mt. Iwaki) (Aomori)

124 Aza Susono, Hyakuzawa, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori

3. Goshikinuma Lake (Fukushima)

Next up is Goshikinuma (Five-Colored Ponds) in Fukushima Prefecture. Goshikinuma is the collective term for the group of lakes and marshes scattered at Bandai Kogen (Bandai Highlands) in the northern part of the region. These ponds are known for their color changing waters, such as emerald green and cobalt blue. The main representatives of these ponds are Bishamon, Akanuma, Midoro Swamp, Benten'numa, Ruri Swamp, and Aonuma. While you will be treated to picturesque views here throughout the year, winter brings about a mysterious contrast between the surroundings blanketed in snow and the blue shade of the water. There are times when the surface of the water freezes, and that is also a stunning sight that is definitely worth a look!

3. Goshikinuma Lake (Fukushima)

Aza Yudaira-yama, Oaza Hibara, Kita Shiobara-mura, Yama-gun, Fukushima

4. The Hifuri Kamakura (Akita)

Hifuri Kamakura – a traditional event in Akita that has been held for more than 400 years now – is a city-designated Intangible Folk Cultural Property. It is a festival with a mystical vibe where rings of fire dance in the snow. The sacred fire is used to ward off evil in rice fields, as well as to pray for good health and safety of the family for the entire year. To do the dance, fire is set to the sack that is attached to the end of an approximately meter-long rope. The rope is held, and then swung around your body. The event is open to anyone for just 500 JPY per try, so make sure to join! It is usually held on February 13th and 14th, with the first day of the event held at the Sakura Namiki Chushajo (parking lot), and the second day held in various venues inside Kakunodate-machi.

Schedule for 2018: February 13 (Tues) and 14 (Wed)

4. The Hifuri Kamakura (Akita)

97-1 Kitano, Kakunodate-machi, Senboku-shi, Akita

5. SENDAI Pageant of Starlight (Miyagi)

SENDAI Pageant of Starlight Last on this list is a winter attraction in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture: SENDAI Pageant of Starlight, an illumination event that will mark its 32nd year in 2017. During this event, 160 zelkova trees will be lit up by 600,000 LED lights, creating a whimsical and glittery scene.

Schedule for 2017: December 8 (Fri) – 31 (Sun)

5. SENDAI Pageant of Starlight (Miyagi)

(Higashi Nibanocho-dori to Shimin-kaikan-mae) Jozenji-dori, Sendai-shi, Miyagi

The Tohoku region is relatively easy to access from Tokyo if you take the Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train) (e.g. takes a minimum of 3 hours from Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori Station). So, if you visit Japan during the winter, it is definitely a great idea to incorporate this area into your itinerary!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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