Region
Tohoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Fukushima
Population
2,126,998

Fukushima

The great outdoors

Ignore the bad press or miss out on this boundless, breathtaking natural landscape.

Sadly for many tourists, Fukushima remains off-limits because of the Dai-ichi nuclear accident but the no-entry zone actually makes up less than 10% of the prefecture’s total area. Look beyond the negative publicity and you’ll find an expansive region of breathtaking natural beauty which you’ll have practically all to yourself.

Mount Bandai Fukushima

Mount Bandai is one of the most famous mountains in Japan.

Camping, hiking, fishing, hot springs, skiing and marine sports are on offer in and around the remote Bandai-Asahi National Park where the majestic Mount Bandai soars into an azure sky. Or you can head into the diverse terrain of the Aizu-kogen highlands stopping by the postcard-perfect samurai city of Aizuwakamatsu for some locally produced rice wine.

Step back in time at the old samurai city of Aizuwakamatsu. Photo by Russell Trow.

Those interested to see the area impacted by the 2011 tsunami can take part in the so-called “dark-tourism” tours offered by locals seeking a way to atone for the past.

It’s a harrowing but hopeful testament to the healing power of travel.

Japan’s third-largest prefecture, Fukushima is the entryway from urban Kanto into remote Tohoku. The southernmost city of Shirakawa, reachable via a one and a half hour bullet train from Tokyo, makes a good starting point for exploring the region before you travel deeper into the north.

Aizuwakamatsu is on point to become Fukushima’s star attraction, as the historic castle town undergoes careful restoration to preserve its old samurai houses and traditional streets. The town is also one of the country’s main producers of sake (rice wine) made from melted snow water from the mountains. Tours and tastings are available – sober up with some local wappa meshi, a dish of steamed fish over rice. If you have time, you can travel further north to quaint Kitakata for more sake and a bowl of famed curly noodle ramen.

Photo by: Aizuwakamatsu Castle or Tsuruga-jo was one of the last samurai strongholds. Photo by L’oeil etranger.

Between the Oze National Park, the Aizu-kogen highlands and the Bandai-Asahi National Park, the possibilities for outdoor exploration are endless. Mount Bandai is one of Japan’s most famous mountains, surrounded by more than 100 ponds and lakes formed by lava flow from its 1888 eruption. The Goshiki-numa (five-colored) ponds are the area’s big draw, where you can watch the water change color from green to blue to red from the dedicated hiking path. If you want to extend your spring camping expedition, there’s bird-watching in the summer, autumn-leaves viewing in the fall and snowshoeing in the winter. What are you waiting for?

Places to visit

Fukushima (Shirakawa)

Shirakawa

Follow the noodle north to scenic Shirakawa.

Ouchi Juku Village In Fukushima, Japan

Ouchi-juku

3, 2, 1 and action...


Mt.Bandai

Mount Bandai

Fukushima's Fuji is just as iconic.

Iwaki

While northern Japan is known for its rugged mountains and lush green forests, Iwaki offers a slice of seaside fun in the sun.


The Mummy at Kanshu-ji Temple

Spooky but real: This self-made mummy is a rare insight into extreme religious practice.

Goshikinuma (Five Colored Lakes)

A hike dotted with bewildering beauty, plus one of the most picturesque rowboat trips you'll ever find.

Other Destinations in Tohoku

Lake Towada in Autumn, in Aomori and Akita, Japan

Akita

The best way to enjoy Akita is simply to go outside and be among it.

Cherry blossoms along the moat surrounding Hirosaki castle, Aomori.

Aomori

The northern tip of Tohoku, Aomori prefecture is the boundary between the known and unknown Japan.

The miracle pine tree in Iwate remains a symbol of hope for those affected by the 2011 tsunami.

Iwate

The local people say that Iwate is a place where you forge your own path. Take their advice and enjoy this re-emerging - and rewarding - destination.

Matsushima, Japan coastal landscape from Mt. Otakamori. Miyagi Prefecture

Miyagi

With vibrant Sendai at its core, Miyagi makes the ideal base for exploring the remote corners of Tohoku.

Find poetic inspiration at Yamadera Mountain Temple in Yamagata

Yamagata

Winter is coming. But so is spring, summer and fall at this rewarding year-round destination.