Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trip to Tohoku and Tokyo

I have been wondering how best to blog about my trip..

So I was thinking maybe I should blog about what happened each day.. But no.. that would be too boring... somedays we did nothing much but travelling to a new destination and lazing around in the hotel, reading and sleeping.

Maybe just a post then on each of the different cities I went to.. But then, the posts will really be rather unrelated, since each place is rather different.. And how do I write about some of the good food or purchases I've made in some of the cities?


So in the end, I've decided to do it like this.

This post will be a summary on my trip.. And then over the next few days (hopefully not weeks), I'd write a little about each city and link it from this post.

We decided to go to the Tohoku Region in Japan for our vacation because it is a region we have never been before. The plan was to travel around the Tohoku region and then go back to Tokyo to catch the sakuras.

Tohoku Region is well known for its rice, hot springs, lakes and mountains. As it is in the northern part of Honshu, it is also colder and has more snow then most parts of Japan, apart from Hokkaido.

Our first stop was to Sendai in the Miyagi Prefecture, the largest city in the Tohoku Region. Sendai city itself does not really have any interesting sightseeing spots. But the food in Sendai is really really (really) good. Even the food at the train station was fabulous!

And a short train ride from Sendai brings you to Matsushima, one of the Three Views of Japan. A small town near Matsushima called Shiogama is famous for having good sushi and sashimi.

Yummy beef tongue in Sendai


Sushi at Shiogama

We then travelled up into the mountains, to the Yamagata Prefecture. Here, we went to Zao Onsen, a popular ski and onsen destination. We spent a night in a Japanese ryokan and then went back into Yamagata City. I couldn't believe it myself, but we actually climbed a little hill called Yamadera when we were there. (I don't really fancy climbing hills.. especially with wet conditions.. because I am rather clumsy and it wouldn't be fun to be injured during a vacation. Happily, I escaped unscathed.)

Ski slope at Zao

Onsen at Yamagata

From Yamagata, we went to the Akita Prefecture. Strong winds in eastern Japan that day distrupted our travel plans. The local Yamagata train we were on stopped for 2 hours and then the train company sent a bus to send us to another station where it'd be safe for the trains to run.. We end up reaching Akita City too late in the evening for anything but a meal at a very Chinese-looking bar, before going to a small town called Kakunodate for the night.

Kakunodate is a charming little town. It is one of the more famous "Little Kyotos" in Japan and is home to several warrior homes. It is my favourite town this trip - it is a very quiet and peaceful town and we had excellent noodles and yakitori there. We also, surprisingly, did a fair bit of interesting shopping in this little town.

A very small train stop and town - Kakunodate

Our last stop before Tokyo was Morioka. Here, all I wanted to do was to eat noodles, which is what Morioka is famous for. But we managed to catch a couple of interesting sites around town and even squeezed in a day trip to a very famous farm in the region, called Koiwai Farm. Most of the farm is closed to public during winter, but it was nevertheless a very interesting and cute place to visit.

Morioka Cold noodles - one of the famous noodles in Morioka

The cute lambs at Koiwai Farm

Tokyo was very much all about 3 things - catching up with a Japanese friend of mine, watching sakura blooms in different parks and eating yummy food.

But we did managed to take a trip to Fuji Goko (Fuji Five Lakes) to see Mount Fuji and stay at a traditional ryokan hotel.

The elusive Mount Fuji

Blooming Sakuras

Fresh seafood at the Tsukiji market

Japan is really a nice place to go to for vacation. I'm already thinking about a next trip there!


Blur Ting said...

Wooo! Envious! All the good food, scenery and blossoms!

petunialee said...

The food pictures are so good. I feel like going there for a short trip too. Your trip was 5 days? One week?

Open Kitchen Concept said...

Petunia, do that! The sakuras will still be in Tokyo next week! If you are going later in April, try moving further north. Mu vacation was 14 days... that's why I could go so many cities... hehe

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