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Cherry Blossoms and Culinary Delights: Spring Train Journeys in Tohoku

Cherry Blossoms and Culinary Delights: Spring Train Journeys in Tohoku

Start your Aomori journey with the enchanting Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival, where the town is bathed in delicate pink blooms. Hirosaki Park takes centre stage in this magnificent spectacle, celebrated each year from mid-April to mid-May 5th, showcasing a breathtaking display of 2,600 cherry trees gracefully encircling Hirosaki Castle, all set against the picturesque backdrop of a meandering moat.
For festival details, visit the official Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival website.

It takes approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach Shin-Aomori Station from Tokyo. You can take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori Station and then transfer to a local line. From there, you can either take a bus or enjoy a 30-minute stroll from Hirosaki Station.

In Aomori, beyond the cherry blossoms, don’t miss the Aomori Nokkedon. Visit the local market, just a short five-minute stroll from JR Aomori Station, and savour the delightful and unique culinary offerings that are only available in Aomori.

Nokkedon is a special dining experience in Aomori that allows you to create your own meal. Start by purchasing a ‘Nokkedon’ meal ticket and exchange it for a bowl of rice at a restaurant with a red sign, with assistance from local staff. Then, explore the market and choose your favourite ingredients from about 30 different stores in three areas. These ingredients include fresh seafood, side dishes, meat, and more. Exchange your selected items for meal tickets, with different items costing varying numbers of tickets. Each store offers a variety of ingredients and unique preparations. Once your bowl is ready, enjoy your custom Nokkedon. It’s a fantastic way to taste Aomori’s local flavours while exploring the market.

For more information and details, visit the Nokkedon website.


p>Fukushima - Nicchu Line Weeping Cherry Blossom

The next destination brings travellers to Fukushima, where they can revel in the enchanting beauty of weeping cherry blossoms along the former Nicchu Railway Line. This previously operational railway has transformed into a scenic cycling and pedestrian route spanning about 3 kilometres. Along this revitalised path, you can admire the allure of 1,000 weeping cherry blossom trees. Furthermore, in close proximity to the Kitakata Plaza, a historic steam train is proudly exhibited for visitors to enjoy. This unique and breathtaking spectacle unfolds as cherry blossoms gracefully drape over the now-scenic cycling and pedestrian route, creating a picturesque scene. Travellers can discover valuable information for planning their visit by exploring the details provided by Fukushima Travel.

You can reach Kitakata Station from Tokyo by taking the Tohoku Shinkansen to Koriyama Station, which takes approximately 85 minutes. From there, you can transfer to the JR Ban’etsu West Line and travel for another 85 minutes to reach Kitakata Station. The station is located within a 5-minute walk from Kitakata Station on the JR Banetsu West Line.

For those with a passion for food, Kitakata Ramen is a must-try local specialty. This ramen is celebrated for its rich soy-based broth and thick, curly noodles, offering a distinct and delightful taste. It’s a culinary adventure that adds a delightful dimension to their Fukushima journey.
To delve into the world of Kitakata Ramen, individuals can visit Tohoku Kanko.


Iwate - Hiraizumi Chuson-ji Cherry Blossom

In Iwate, the cherry blossoms at Hiraizumi Chuson-ji are integral to the site’s rich cultural tapestry, creating a captivating blend of history and nature. As you explore the temple grounds, the blossoms contribute to the overall serenity, offering a visually stunning experience.

Chuson-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple in Hiraizumi town, southern Iwate Prefecture. It is known as the head temple of Tendai sect in Tohoku region. It was founded in 850, and is registered a world cultural heritage site in 2011.
For a deeper exploration of the history and cultural context of this site, you can find detailed information on the official Hiraizumi website.

You can reach Hiraizumi Station from Tokyo by taking the Tohoku Shinkansen to Ichinoseki Station, which takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. From there, you can transfer to the JR Tohoku Line and travel for another 9 minutes to reach Hiraizumi Station. The station is located within a 20-minute walk from there.

While in Iwate, visitors should not miss the opportunity to indulge in Wanko Soba, a distinctive local specialty that offers a uniquely enjoyable dining experience.

The term “Wanko” is a local dialect referring to a wooden bowl. In Morioka, Hanamaki, and the surrounding areas, locals have a tradition of showing their hospitality to guests by serving freshly boiled soba in a specific manner: providing a small amount of soba in a small bowl. This practice, known as “Otebachi,” is the origin of Wanko Soba. As soon as a guest finishes their bowl, it is instantly replaced with the next, and the server, known as the Okyuji-san, swiftly adds fresh soba to the bowl while chanting “Hai, dokkoi. Janjan” (“OK, done. One more!”).

Wanko Soba encourages a friendly competition to see who can consume the most bowls. It’s not customary to simply express that you’ve had enough with the typical “Gochisosama.” Instead, the service continues until the customer can cover the bowl with a lid.

For an extensive look into Wanko Soba and to find the best places to enjoy it, visit Iwate for all the information you need. This culinary adventure perfectly complements the cultural and natural beauty of Hiraizumi Chuson-ji, enhancing the overall experience in Iwate.

Additionally, for those looking to explore exciting train trips in the Tohoku region, there are the JR EAST Joyful Trains, such as TOHOKU EMOTION, SL Banetsu Monogatari, and Resort Shirakami, each offering a unique and memorable experience.

TOHOKU EMOTION: Embark on a journey aboard the unique TOHOKU EMOTION restaurant train in Tohoku, featuring original food menus, coastal views, and scenic stops. It’s an excellent way to explore the landscapes and cuisine of Tohoku.  It runs between Hachinohe in Aomori to Kuji Station in Iwate.
SL Banetsu Monogatari: Explore the classic SL Banetsu Monogatari train, known as the “Noble Lady,” as it travels through scenic areas. With spacious cars, a kids’ play area, and a comfortable Green Car, it’s an excellent choice for families interested in history and scenic beauty. SL Banetsu Monogatari runs from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station in Fukushima to Niitsu Station in Niigata. Learn more and book your journey at the JR EAST Joyful Trains Portal.
Resort Shirakami: Enjoy a scenic train adventure with Resort Shirakami, where you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring vistas of the Shirakami Mountains and the Sea of Japan. The “Buna” train features a wood-themed interior and eco-friendly technology, ensuring a serene and sustainable journey. Choose between Ordinary car reserved seats in Cars 1, 3, and 4, featuring warm-coloured seats reminiscent of a Tohoku summer festival, or opt for Box seats in Car 2 for enhanced views, spaciousness, and a cosy atmosphere with bright imagery and comforting beechwood lighting. Resort Shirakami takes you an amazing trip between Aomori Station and Akita Station.
Travellers are invited to embark on a spring adventure in Tohoku, where they can immerse themselves in the enchanting beauty of cherry blossoms and savour the exquisite flavours of local cuisine. It’s a journey that promises a perfect blend of natural splendour and cultural experiences.