20 Recommended Spots in the Tohoku Region for Solo Travelers!
Going on a trip may be a lot of fun, but there are many people who want to experience the freewheeling life through some solo traveling. There may be worry about how a trip can be fully enjoyed on your own, but not to worry, here are some carefully selected spots to consider for all the solo travelers out there. Expect scenic nature spots, some of the best eats in the region, and plenty of shopping areas to explore - all of which happen to be accessible by public transportation.
Sep 25 2019 (Oct 05 2020)
Enjoy Tohoku! 8 Recommended Spots
1. Oirase Gorge
Oirase Gorge is a popular sightseeing spot in Aomori that constantly draws in throngs of tourists who want to experience beautiful nature. The scenery at this gorge changes every season, so it is the perfect spot for a whimsical trip.
There are walking trails at Oirase Gorge, including a trail that will that take you around the waterfalls and a roughly 30-minute course for you to enjoy the majestically flowing river. If you are not confident about your stamina, there are bicycles that you can rent there, so you don't have to worry. There is also a bus from the airport, so you can access this gorge without a car.
2. East Hakkoda Rose Country
East Hakkoda Rose Country is a gorgeous place in Aomori where you can marvel at roses, making it a highly recommended spot for those who love flowers. You will get to view a wide variety of roses from mid-June until the end of September. You can also purchase flower arrangements of freshly picked roses as well as dried flowers, soaps, and other products at the shop inside the garden.
The rose soft-serve ice cream, the specialty of East Hakkoda Rose Country, is truly photogenic thanks to its bright pink color. Located only 11 minutes by car from the roadside station Shichinohe, you can get to this garden by taxi even if you don’t have a car. This spot is recommended for a relaxing experience being surrounded by roses in full bloom to soothe any exhaustion you may have.
3. Tsugaru Kokeshi Museum
At Tsugaru Kokeshi Museum, you can experience painting kokeshi (a kind of wooden doll with no arms and legs). You can also observe the production of the dolls and visit the souvenir shop, which carries a wide selection of them from all over the country. Kokeshi dolls may seem a little scary, but modern-themed cute versions are also sold now, and are highly recommended as a souvenir.
There is a paid space on the second floor of the museum building where traditional kokeshi dolls and kokeshi art collections are on display. Various events are also held at the museum depending on the season, so make sure to check the official homepage for details. Why not try making an original kokeshi doll at the Tsugaru Kokeshi Museum, reachable by a 30-minute bus ride from Kuroishi Station?
4. Tachineputa no Yakata
Tachineputa no Yakata (Tachineputa Museum) is a popular sightseeing spot in Aomori that showcases massive tachineputa floats (standing paper floats) that reach 22 meters in height. Located just 5 minutes from Goshogawara Station by foot, it can be easily without a car. There is also an elevator inside the museum, so you will be able to see the tachineputa floats from different heights.
At Tachineputa no Yakata, there is also an art gallery and a local products hall called Hana Shobu inside the museum. Hana Shobu offers delectable confectioneries and special products from Goshogawara, making it the perfect stopover spot when traveling through Aomori. If you want to experience the Nebuta Festival, checking out Tachineputa no Yakata is a must.
5. Ouchi Juku
Ouchi Juku is a very popular sightseeing spot that will make you feel like you have slipped back in time to the Edo period. There are rows of traditional Japanese houses with thatched roofs that house souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. You can get a glimpse into the townscape of the Edo period and purchase special products of Aizu here, so it is always filled with tourists.
At Minatogawa-ya inside Ouchi Juku, you can try painting akeboko (a local toy in Fukushima shaped like a red cow) and roly-poly dolls. This spot is accessible by bus or train, so it is also recommended for a solo trip. Aren’t you curious about the priceless Edo period scenery in this spot?
6. Sendai Kaleidoscopes Art Museum
Sendai Kaleidoscopes Art Museum can only be described as a magical world of kaleidoscopes. There are various kinds of kaleidoscopes on display here and you are sure to be mesmerized by their beauty. You can hold and look into the kaleidoscopes, and there is a corner where you can even make your own kaleidoscope! This museum is popular for their interactive kaleidoscope experiences.
In the kaleidoscope-making workshop, you can choose beads to go inside your own original kaleidoscope. The Sendai Kaleidoscopes Art Museum is located at the entrance of Sendai’s famous hot spring district Akiu Onsen, so you can get to the museum by bus. If you make your way here, it is highly recommended to also tour Akiu Onsen while you're at it.
7. Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets
Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets is where you can purchase items from domestic and foreign fashion brands at low prices. There are roundtrip shuttle buses (paid) from Sendai Station, so there is no need to have a car. This spot is recommended to those who want to enjoy some shopping in Sendai.
Resembling towns in northeastern U.S., Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets is a complex where you can go shopping while enjoying the scenery. There are also bargains and events often being held here, so make sure to check their official homepage.
Ryusendo is certified as one of the three largest limestone caves in Japan. With a blue underground lake that will take your breath away with its beauty, this cave is a famous sightseeing spot with unforgettable sights. It is inhabited by bats that have been designated as a national natural treasure, so if you are someone who loves exploring, this spot is definitely recommended for you.
The Ryusendo area is also home to the Natural Cave Science Museum where you can see traces of water left in the cave as well as many limestone caves. With onsen (hot spring) inns, cafes, the Ryusendo Tourist Center, and other establishments around, Ryusendo has become a recommended sightseeing spot to explore. A visit to Ryusendo should definitely be on your list for a visit to Iwate Prefecture.
5 Recommended Cafes Near Sightseeing Spots
Operating from a 130-year-old traditional Japanese house, this popular cafe offers an extensive menu that incorporates dishes that use Yamagata’s Tsuyahime rice, as well as parfaits with a generous serving of fruits.
Inside, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and meals in a serene space while marveling at the beautiful view outside. This cafe is only a 10-minute walk from the nearest station, Fujishima Station.
After visiting the Sendai Kaleidoscopes Art Museum, pay a visit to Akiusha for lunch! It is a cafe famous for their healthy offerings and a lunch menu filled with dishes served with generous servings of vegetables. Their dishes also use fresh local ingredients, so this cafe is recommended for health-conscious people.
Some of the recommended items on the menu are the Akiu Saiseki Chocolate and Akiu-style Chestnut Brulee. Both dishes go well with coffee, so they make the perfect dessert.
Located about 20 minutes from Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium on foot, SUGAR is an extremely famous cafe thanks to its cute facade. The cakes on its menu are adorable, and you can expect them to look great in photos as well.
This cafe with pastel-colored interiors is recommended for those who can't get enough of cute things. If you are searching for photogenic sweets, this is definitely the place to head to.
4. Lindt Chocolat Café - Sendai-Izumi Premium Outlets Branch
Lindt Chocolat Café is run by the famous chocolate brand Lindt. Their menu of sweets, including chocolate drinks, cakes, and soft-serve ice cream made with fine chocolate is highly popular.
This cafe serves limited-time dishes that change every season, so you are bound to enjoy various seasonal delights whenever you visit. Some of the famous items on their menu include the soft-serve ice cream and chocolate drinks. They look great in photos, so this cafe is also recommended for people who like to post on social media. Why not take a break at this cafe after shopping in the outlet shops?
5. Bunke Tamaya
Bunke Tamaya is a cafe in Ouchi Juku, a popular tourist destination in Fukushima. You can enjoy homemade sweets, coffee, and the warmth of wood in this cafe, located in an old Japanese-style house. The sweets made with ingredients handpicked by the owner of the cafe will soothe your body.
This cafe is famous for their delicious dishes that are made using seasonal fruits and other ingredients. The sweets made at this cafe are also sold online, so you can enjoy Bunke Tamaya’s unique flavors after you get home if you miss it. Make sure to drop by if you pay a visit to Ouchi Juku!
5 Recommended Alcoholic Drinks to Try
1. Okimasamune Boutique
Okimasamune Boutique produces and sells alcoholic drinks using local ingredients from Yamagata. Opened on April 1, 2019, this boutique has alcoholic beverages such as Japanese sake, which is the specialty of Okimasamune, and wines from affiliated companies. You can also go on a tour of its brewery by making a reservation through their official homepage. At the end of the tour, you will be gifted a souvenir to commemorate your visit!
Okimasamune Boutique makes alcoholic drinks that go well with any dish. Apart from Japanese sake and wines, they also offer also a selection of cheeses, chocolates, and other food items that make great souvenirs. Remember this place if you plan to go sightseeing in Yamagata!
2. Ozaki Shuzo
Ozaki Shuzo is the only sake brewery on the west coast of Aomori. The main sake brand they produce is Ando-Suigun, which is known as the regional sake of Aomori. Using spring water from the Shirakami Mountain Range, Ozaki Shuzo boasts of brewing sake with a refreshing flavor. This brewery is recommended for those who love drinking smooth Japanese sake.
The flavor of Ozaki Shuzo's sake is slightly sweet to dry. One of its famous brands is Kaminoza, named after the famous actor Hisaya Morishige, and it is characterized by its delicate aroma and smooth taste. Don’t forget to sample the local sake on your visit to Aomori!
3. TAKAHATA WINERY
TAKAHATA WINERY is just a 10-minute walk from Takatsuki Station. Here, you can sample and purchase wines, as well as tour the facilities. Their shop sells wines, local beers, local sake, shochu (distilled liquor), and liqueurs that are perfect for souvenirs or to gift to yourself.
TAKAHATA WINERY uses high-quality ingredients harvested from Takahata, a town which is famous for its grapes. The company’s proprietary brewing technology is known for their delicious taste and they also offer fruit wines that are popular with people who prefer sweet wines.
4. Suehiro Shuzo Kaeigura
Suehiro Shuzo Kaeigura has won awards in numerous competitions around the world. The Yamahai Junmai Ginjo, produced at Suehiro Shuzo, is a hot Japanese sake that was served at the G20 Summit Dinner this year. You'll have to try it yourself to see why this sake has been receiving so much attention!
You can also visit Suehiro Shuzo’s brewery. The brewery tour is available every 30 minutes starting at 9:30 am. Reservation is not required as long as you are not in a large group. All you have to do to reach this brewery is ride the local bus Haikara-san from Aizuwakamatsu Station, get off at Yamato-cho bus stop, and then walk for about a minute. This brewery is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are in the area.
5. Tsukinowa Shuzo
This famous brewery has won multiple awards in global competitions and its most popular product is the seasonal Junmaishu Tsukinowa Aki Agari. They brew a variety of sake flavors here, so it is recommended for those who wish to compare and sample different sake flavors.
The Wakasaya Ice Cream Garden located within the Tsukinowa Shuzo premises serves sugar-free gelato has been earning rave reviews for its delicious taste. One of their unique gelato flavors is sake lees, so if you enjoy sake and sweets, this brewery is a must.
The Perfect Sightseeing Destinations for Those Worried About Traveling Alone!
It is normal to feel anxious when traveling alone for the first time. There are quite a lot of places that are not easy to reach without a car, but the spots featured in this article can all be reached by public transport. The list also includes places where you are guaranteed to take beautiful photos so that you can save pretty memories from your trip. Please refer to this article as your guide if you are planning a solo trip to Tohoku!
Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
By the way, you can book a hotel through Relux (run by SPIRA) by clicking here!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.