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    • Spring
      • Onbashira Matsuri Japan Nagano Festival

        Onbashira Matsuri

        Watch one of Japan's most dangerous festivals in Nagano in 2022. The Onbashira Matsuri is an ancient festival dating back more than 1,200 years.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
      • Indy Pass Outdoor Japan Tohoku

        The Resistance

        The Indy Pass arrives in Japan to bring avid riders to local resorts that punch above their weight class and offer varied terrain.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!
        Protect our Winter POW Japan

        Protecting Japan’s Pow

        Professional snowboarder and environmentalist Goro Komatsu fights climate change with Protect our Winters Japan.
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
    • River and Lake
      • sawa nobori wakasa fukuivideo

        Sawa Nobori, High Above t...

        Learn about the uniquely Japanese activity of sawa nobori, navigating up rivers and waterfalls, in the Wakasa region of Fukui Prefecture.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Indy Pass Outdoor Japan Tohoku

        The Resistance

        The Indy Pass arrives in Japan to bring avid riders to local resorts that punch above their weight class and offer varied terrain.
        Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!
        Protect our Winter POW Japan

        Protecting Japan’s Pow

        Professional snowboarder and environmentalist Goro Komatsu fights climate change with Protect our Winters Japan.
    • Travel
      • Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Protect our Winter POW Japan

        Protecting Japan’s Pow

        Professional snowboarder and environmentalist Goro Komatsu fights climate change with Protect our Winters Japan.
        Onbashira Matsuri Japan Nagano Festival

        Onbashira Matsuri

        Watch one of Japan's most dangerous festivals in Nagano in 2022. The Onbashira Matsuri is an ancient festival dating back more than 1,200 years.
        Market Watch Onomichi Market

        Market Watch: Omicho Market

        Discover Omicho Market in Kanazawa, Ishikawa for the best of seafood and local vegetables in Japan.
        sawa nobori wakasa fukuivideo

        Sawa Nobori, High Above the Wakasa Waters

        Learn about the uniquely Japanese activity of sawa nobori, navigating up rivers and waterfalls, in the Wakasa region of Fukui Prefecture.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Shinano Town Outdoor Japan

        Go Deep into Shinano

        Discover Snow Country in Shinano Town in northern Nagano, popular for its deep powder but also its mountainous winter scenery.
        Protect our Winter POW Japan

        Protecting Japan’s Pow

        Professional snowboarder and environmentalist Goro Komatsu fights climate change with Protect our Winters Japan.
        Onbashira Matsuri Japan Nagano Festival

        Onbashira Matsuri

        Watch one of Japan's most dangerous festivals in Nagano in 2022. The Onbashira Matsuri is an ancient festival dating back more than 1,200 years.
        Market Watch Onomichi Market

        Market Watch: Omicho Market

        Discover Omicho Market in Kanazawa, Ishikawa for the best of seafood and local vegetables in Japan.
        sawa nobori wakasa fukuivideo

        Sawa Nobori, High Above the Wakasa Waters

        Learn about the uniquely Japanese activity of sawa nobori, navigating up rivers and waterfalls, in the Wakasa region of Fukui Prefecture.
    • Races and Events
      • Evergreen Outdoor Center Japan

        Japan Snow Guide: Winter 2022 Events & No...

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2022!
        Onbashira Matsuri Japan Nagano Festival

        Onbashira Matsuri

        Watch one of Japan's most dangerous festivals in Nagano in 2022. The Onbashira Matsuri is an ancient festival dating back more than 1,200 years.
        Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

        Yuji Hirayama’s Urban Base Camp Opens in Shinj...

        One of Japan's top rock climbers Yuji Hirayama has opened Urban Base Camp, a new bouldering gym in the heart of Tokyo.
        Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.

Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring. The higher mountains in Honshu’s northernmost region still have snow through the end of June, so come prepared and exercise caution as trails can be hard to find under the spring snow.

Hachimantai Summit Area

The Hachimantai Aspite Line is a 27-kilometer stretch of road that goes from Iwate to Akita. When it opens on April 15, there is a long corridor of snow that is four or five meters high on each side of the road over much of that distance. Enjoy seeing the cherry blossoms at the bottom of the mountain, drive up to the summit and park, then put on your snowshoes and walk over the the deep snow and enjoy stunning views of nearby Mt. Iwate and Mt. Mokko. There are tons of trails for all levels, and even easy ones for kids. Distances vary as you can just walk around near the parking lot, or walk in any number of loops around the lakes. Check out the “Dragon Eye” in early June! 

Akita Komagatake

Akita Komagatake is a stratovolcano with five main peaks, the highest of which is called Onamedake (1,637 meters). While you can enjoy this mountain all year round, the most enjoyable way to hike it from the trailhead at Kunimi Onsen, which opens on May 7. It’s a fairly steep ascent for the first hour, but then it opens up as you reach the rim of the vast volcano caldera. The views of the volcano are just breathtaking. There are a variety of ways you can go, but if you keep it simple and just hit the main summit and come back, it’s about 11 kilometers with a total ascent of 940 meters. This Tohoku hike is guaranteed to please.

Hakkoda

Hakkoda keeps its snow until July most years, so take the ropeway up and enjoy hiking as near or far as you like! There are there summits nearby that you can hike up, or you could just walk around on the snow casually and have a picnic before going back down. Like Hachimantai, there are multiple routes, and you can enjoy it in a number of ways depending how much time you have or your fitness level.

Mt. Iwate

Mt. Iwate is a the highest mountain in the same prefecture, and officially “opens” on July 1. That said, people climb it all year round. It can be dangerous in the winter, but through most of June it’s great for intermediate hikers that are looking for a challenge. During this season, it’s best to stick to the Umagaeshi or Omisaka trails. (Save the longer, more glorious, routes for later in the year!) Mt. Iwate is shaped somewhat similar to Mt. Fuji, and—like Fuji-san—you can enjoy walking along the rim of a volcanic caldera at the summit. The Umagaeshi Trail is short and direct, about 11 kilometers with an ascent of 1,500 meters. The Omisaka can be a bit steeper and is 12.5 kilometers with a 1,566-meter ascent. Both can take a good six to ten hours depending on your speed. Plan accordingly so you don’t run out of daylight!

Mt. Goya

Mt. Goya is located near the Sanriku Coast,  and you’re likely to see some deer while walking up here. It’s less strenuous than some of the other hikes—with a distance of around 8 kilometers and an ascent of just 650 meters—and there is an interesting rock formation near the summit that is considered sacred. Many local hikers go there for the flowers that bloom throughout June. 

Getting There

Starting this April, JR East has made its two most popular passes, the Tohoku area and the Nagano/Niigata area pass, available to anyone with a foreign passport regardless of visa type. These passes were previously only available for temporary visitors, but foreign residents can now also take advantage of these deals. 

These passes offer unlimited rides in their regions over five consecutive days. This includes bullet train, local, rapid and limited express trains and some JR East buses. 

The Tohoku pass costs ¥20,000 for adults and ¥10,000 for children. It allows for travel within Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Fukushima, Yamagata, Akita, Iwate and Aomori. The fare costs the same regardless of where they are purchased.

The Nagano/Niigata pass costs ¥18,000 for adults and ¥9,000 for children. It covers Matsumoto and Hakuba. 

Visit East Japan Rail for more information or to book online.

Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

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