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Last updated : Nov 2009
Northern Honshu and Hokkaido
Northern Honshu & Hokkaido - Japan TravelPuppy
Northern Honshu, known as Tohoku, offers beautiful natural scenery spawled over three national parks as well as many lesser-known cultural and historical treasures. Sendai is a vibrant, modern city, which houses the famous August Tanabata Star Festival and gateway to the Tohoku region.

Nearby Matsushima enjoys a famously scenic bay. The lovely city of Aizu-Wakamatsu is well known for its lacquerware, historic Tsurugaoka Castle and amazing Buke-yashiki samurai residence. The volcanic landscapes of the adjacent Bandai-Asahi National Park are popular among hikers, as is the dramatic Dewa Sanzan area and Mount Zao, which in winter is one of Japan’s best ski resorts. Historic Hiraizumi is interesting for the fabulously ornate Chusonji Temple and Hirosaki is an attractive castle town.

To the very north of Honshu, the amazing volcanic crater of Lake Towada is encircled by the alpine landscapes of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, also well known for its hot springs and ski resorts. Hokkaido was for a long time Japan’s ‘Wild West’ and still has a distinct pioneer feel. The island is home to Japan's only remaing indigenous Ainu people, and the remnants of their unique culture are a major attraction. Vast parts of Hokkaido are protected as National Parks: areas of amazing volcanic scenery, ‘bottomless’ crater lakes, hot springs and many mountain and ski resorts. Furano, especially renowned for its summer flower fields and winter skiing. In winter visitors flock to see two of Hokkaido’s natural phenomena: ‘dancing’ cranes and hot-spring-bathing monkeys.

, Hokkaido’s vibrant capital, is well known for its excellent nightlife and the extraordinary Snow Festival in February. To the south, the port city of Hakodate was among the first of Japan’s ports to open to foreign trade. Famous for its historic Goryokaku Fort and lovely night views, the city displays a notable Russian influence.