Saturday, November 28, 2020

WAttention Tohoku: Explore Japan’s Rich Heritage in Tohoku’s Six Prefectures and Niigata

Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima — these six ken (prefectures), along with the neighbouring Niigata, are panoramas of idyllic bucolic perfection and home to rich cultures passed down through generations. In each area, you will experience Japan in its most authentic, raw and breathtaking forms.

Located in northeastern Honshu, Tohoku borders the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, and the Tsugaru Straits. While Japan has made phenomenal strides in development over the past centuries, of course, the Tohoku region retains its old-world charms, traditional lifestyles and distinctive cultures. With its astounding scenery, ancient shrines , and unique lifestyles maintained by friendly people making remarkable local dishes, each spot and every person in the region has a fascinating story waiting to be discovered.

Challenge yourself by embarking on an exciting journey in search of a Japan about which most visitors — unfortunately — know precious little: Tohoku.

In Japan, the regional divisions or prefectures are called “Ken” while cities are called “Shi”. This magazine uses the term “-ken” to refer to prefectures and “-shi” to refer to cities.

Tohoku is the northernmost region of Japan’s main island, Honshu. It has a long feudal history, with various samurai clans claiming its rugged, rich wilderness over the years. The powerful, beautiful nature found in northern Honshu made it a suitable home for the proud samurai, and even to this day, the spirit of the renowned swordsmen still endures through the region.

Vital elements to making great sake include fresh water, clean rice, appropriate fermentation starter and proper temperature. The Tohoku region, characterized by harsh winters, unpolluted water and dry air, is known across Japan for having the ideal sake-making conditions.

Thanks to the dedication of toji (experienced brew masters), Tohoku sake has a time-honored place deep in the heart of sake enthusiasts. Several breweries offer tours from November to March, the best season for sake brewing.

With all its gods, shrines and temples, religion in Japan seems incredibly complicated. However, Japanese spirituality’s main concern of living in harmony with nature and all creatures that share our world isn’t a concept all too unrelatable. Tohoku is home to many cultural, religious practices and sacred areas like Osorezan, where it is even possible to reconnect with the dead.With all its gods, shrines and temples, religion in Japan seems incredibly complicated. However, Japanese spirituality’s main concern of living in harmony with nature and all creatures that share our world isn’t a concept all too unrelatable. Tohoku is home to many cultural, religious practices and sacred areas like Osorezan, where it is even possible to reconnect with the dead.

Cities in the Tohoku area usually welcome their first blossom from early April to early May according to sakura zensen, a forecast of when and where the blossoms arrive each year. Tohoku’s ever-changing seasonal beauty is no secret. However, this is especially true for the cold northern region of Japan known as Tohoku. , the bloom of the sakura provide reprieve from the long frigid winter by signaling the dawn of spring. Sakura trees hold a very special meaning to the people there. Arriving late and leaving just as swiftly, this fleeting moment in time is Tohoku’s beautiful spring.

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