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The 7 Best Tohoku Autumn Foliage Spots In 2018

The 7 Best Tohoku Autumn Foliage Spots In 2018

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The fall colors turn earlier in the Tohoku region than in Tokyo or Osaka, which make them great places to visit at the start of fall. Here are 7 of the best little known fall foliage spots in the Tohoku - many that even Japanese people don't know.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by Eri Okubo

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Want To View The Autumn Foliage? To The Tohoku Region!!

The Tohoku region is located in the northern part of Japan. Due to its location in the north, autumn and winter arrive quicker than major sightseeing areas like Kyoto or Tokyo, which makes it possible to enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage ahead of the rest of Japan.

“Even though I came to see autumn foliage in Tokyo and Hakone, it's still not in season yet…”

When something like that happens, why not try going to the Tohoku region?

Here are seven Tohoku autumn foliage spots for you to pick from. Oirase Stream in Aomori, Kakunodate and Dakigaeri Gorge in Akita, Hiraizumi in Iwate, Yamadera in Yamagata, Naruko Gorge in Miyagi, and Goshiki-numa in Fukushima are all spots with a superb scenery, where you can enjoy the autumn foliage out in Mother Nature.

If you would like to learn more on autumn foliage viewing, then please read Autumn in Japan – How To Enjoy The Season Of The Autumn Leaves. If you would like to learn about autumn foliage spots in other regions, then please read See Tokyo's Beautiful Fall Colors: The Best 4 Spots To Visit In Autumn or Kyoto In Autumn: 7 Must-See Fall Color Spots In The Old Capital”.

1. Aomori: Oirase Stream

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Photo courtesy of: HIDE & JELLY

The Oirase Stream is a mountain stream from the Oirase River that flows from Lake Towada in Aomori. It's a continuous flow running approximately 14km on both sides, surrounded by a natural forest. As a result, it’s possible to stroll along enjoying the stream with vivid autumn foliage covering the skies above.

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Photo courtesy of: HIDE & JELLY

There are lots of highlights to the stream including the water current, strangely shaped rocks, and moss vegetation. The strolling area is a pathway situated alongside the river, which makes it very easy to walk on. Please also check out other highlights of the stream aside from the autumn foliage such as the Asura Rapids or the Kumoi Waterfall.

2. Akita: Kakunodate

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Photo courtesy of: HIDE & JELLY

Kakunodate, situated in Semboku, Akita, is a traditional townscape that remains as it was in the past to this day. It's a famous sightseeing attraction in the region. You can enjoy traditional samurai houses and black wooden walls in contrast to the reddening autumn foliage.

Please take your time and reflect on the way people lived in the olden days here.

3. Akita: Dakigaeri Valley

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Photo courtesy of: HIDE & JELLY

Also located in Semboku is the Dakigaeri Valley, a valley that has a total length of about 10km. The valley is very beautiful thanks to its primeval forest and lush greenery and is also known as an area famous for its autumn foliage. Long ago, the valley was a rugged mountain path that people were unable to pass through unless they embraced passing hikers. Dakigaeri means "hold (hug) to return" in English. That was how the name Dakigaeri Valley came about.

Now, a pathway has been built into the valley, so visitors can stroll freely while safely enjoying the scenery.

4. Iwate: Hiraizumi

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Photo courtesy of: HIDE & JELLY

Hiraizumi is an area located in the western part of Iwate. It is a historic town that has retained its temples and gardens in present times, including the World Heritage Sites Chuson-ji Temple and Motsu-ji Temple. Here you can enjoy historic sites and gardens that only increase in beauty thanks to the changing colors of the Japanese maple trees and other plants.

5. Yamagata: Yamadera

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Photo courtesy of: Yamadera Tourism Association

Mount Hoju Risshakuji Temple, known by its nickname Yamadera, is located in Yamagata.

The temple holds a long history that dates back 860 years. In 1869, Basho Matsuo (a Japanese haiku master) composed this poem, “In quiet stillness / it permeates the rocks with / cries of cicadas,” which is widely known in Japan.

After climbing up the approximately 800 continuous steps from the entrance, you will be able to see a magnificent view that reaches into the far-off distance. How does going to see the view of Yamadera surrounded by brilliant red maple trees sound?

6. Miyagi: Naruko Gorge

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Photo courtesy of: HIDE & JELLY

Naruko Gorge, located in Miyagi, is a large gorge that reaches a depth of up to 100m deep. You can enjoy coloring autumn foliage that almost covers the valley and the strong river stream at the same time. Given that the 2.2km long Osawa Waterfall pathway is nearby, it would be a great idea to go out on a stroll while gazing at the trees changing colors.

Naruko Onsen Village is an extraordinary hot spring spot with at least nine types of hot spring baths out of the eleven types of hot springs in Japan. Doesn’t visiting multiple onsens in Naruko Onsen Village after autumn foliage viewing sound great?

7. Fukushima: Goshiki-numa

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Goshiki-numa (Five Colored Lakes) refers to the group of lakes located in the Bandai Highlands in Fukushima and is composed of several lakes including Lake Bishamon, Lake Aka, Lake Midoro, Lake Benten, Lake Ruri, and Lake Ao. It has a superb view with various hues of emerald green and cobalt blue tinting the water in striking contrast to the colorful autumn foliage. A boat can be taken out into Lake Bishamon, the largest lake within the Goshiki-numa, where you can view Mount Bandai reflected in the water.

These autumn foliage spots are different from those known to the world, such as Kyoto or Nikko, and there are still many more spots in the Tohoku region that even most Japanese people don’t know about.

If you would like an autumn foliage experience that is different from others, then we recommend the Tohoku region.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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