Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons
Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC

Steeped in tradition, Tohoku (東北), the northeastern part of Japan comprising of six prefectures – Aomori (青森), Akita (秋田), Iwate (岩手), Miyagi (宮城), Yamagata (山形) and Fukushima (福島), presents a wealth of authentic cultural encounters and hidden gems beckoning for exploration. Within its borders lie ancient traditions cherished for centuries, with every prefecture preserving its unique allure and showcasing cultural icons and artisanal crafts that narrate the region’s rich history. 

In this article, we will get a glimpse of Tohoku’s rich tradition by delving into the distinctive cultural emblem defining each prefecture.

 

Aomori Prefecture: Nebuta (ねぶた)

Nebuta float at the Nebuta FestivalNebuta, large illuminated paper lantern floats, often depicting historical and mythical characters. | Photo by Adobe Stock

Beginning with the northernmost part of the main island of Honshu bordered by the Sea of Japan in the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, and the Tsugaru Strait to the north, Aomori Prefecture (青森県) is renowned for hosting one of Tohoku’s three great traditional festivals in the peak of summer, the Nebuta Matsuri (ねぶた祭り)

At the heart of the festival are the enormous, illuminated paper lantern floats known as Nebuta (ねぶた) in eastern Aomori or Neputa (ねぷた) in the western part, particularly in the Tsugaru Region. The approximately two dozen floats featured in the festival are customarily crafted over the span of a year by local teams, meticulously assembling painted washi paper onto wire frames to bring them to life. These Nebuta floats can reach dimensions of up to 9m in width and 5m in height, frequently portraying deities, legendary warlords, kabuki characters, and figures from both Japanese and Chinese folklore, history, and mythology. 

Between 2–7 August, the floats are brought out onto the streets of downtown Aomori for the parade (except for the final day when the parade takes place in the afternoon), accompanied by Haneto (ハネト) dancers dancing to the captivating music of the Nebuta bayashi (ねぶた囃子) bands. Audience participation is highly encouraged, so don your traditional haneto costume and join in for a night you’ll never forget!

 

Akita Prefecture: Namahage (なまはげ)

Namahage are cultural icons of the Oga Peninsula of Akita PrefectureLocals putting on Namahage masks and performing a dance ritual during the Namahage Sedo Festival. | Photo by Adobe Stock

Just south of Aomori lies Akita Prefecture (秋田県), where the Namahage (なまはげ), a demon-like deity believed to dwell in the densely covered mountains on the Oga Peninsula (男鹿半島), roams. Emerging from an ancient tradition dating back hundreds of years, when people’s livelihoods were intricately tied to the land and weather, Namahage was revered through festivals in hopes of fostering bountiful harvests, warding off misfortune, and ushering in good luck. 

Originally a ritual dedicated solely to the purpose of worship, Namahage has evolved into a cherished folklore event in recent times. Every New Year’s Eve, locals cloaked in knitted straw garments known as kede (ケデ) will don horrifying Namahage masks unique to their districts, and go around neighborhoods visiting homes while posing questions such as, “Are there any misbehaving children?” This is an intimidating ritual rooted in the desire for children to excel academically, to thrive in society, and to find happiness in the years ahead. 

For those seeking more Namahage action, the Namahage Sedo Matsuri (なまはげ柴灯祭り) awaits. Held on the second Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of February, this festival showcases the Namahage ascending the mountain with torches in their hands, and fiery illumination piercing through the darkness, casting a mystical ambience against the backdrop of pristine white snow — a fantastical scene you’ll not want to miss!

 

Iwate Prefecture: Nambu Tekki Ironware (南部鉄器)

Elegant and functional, Nambu Ironware is a must-have souvenir from Iwate PrefectureElegantly designed and highly functional, the Nambu Tekki ironware is a traditional Japanese craft that showcases the unmatched skills of Japanese craftsmen since 400 years ago. | Photo by PhotoAC

Situated on the eastern coast, Iwate Prefecture (岩手県) is home to a 400-year-old traditional craft known as Nambu Tekki ironware (南部鉄器), with its origins lying in the art of metal casting. Crafted in cities of Morioka (盛岡市) and Oshu (奥州市), the Nambu Tekki ironware first saw its early form in Morioka, which was known for its abundance of iron resources, rendering it to be the perfect hub for such metal crafting. 

Simultaneously, as the Japanese tea ceremony (茶道 Sado) gained popularity, the feudal lord of the Morioka domain took the initiative to invite craftsmen from Kyoto and Yamanashi with aims of constructing kettles within the castle town. These initiatives fueled the swift advancement of the craft, during which the emergence of a compact iron kettle design, featuring a spout and handle came to be the prototype for the Nambu Tekki iron kettles of recent times. Such is the reverence for this traditional craft — it is not only thought to impart a smooth and mellow taste to boiled water but is also believed to confer health benefits, including the prevention of anemia and high blood pressure.

If meticulously taken care of, these robust ironwares can endure for multiple generations, serving as lasting symbols of craftsmanship and tradition. With its blend of functionality and elegance, a Nambu Tekki iron kettle makes for the perfect souvenir to savour Japanese tea in style. 

 

Miyagi Prefecture: Kokeshi Dolls (こけし人形)

Kokeshi dolls have various designs and motifs depending on where it comes fromKokeshi dolls, known for their cylindrical bodies, lack of limbs, and use of bold paints. | Photo by Adobe Stock

Moving southward, you’ll encounter some familiar dolls in the prefecture of Miyagi (宮城県). These wooden dolls, distinguished by their cylindrical bodies, rounded heads and colorful designs, are famously known as Kokeshi dolls (こけし人形 Kokeshi ningyo). While Miyagi is credited as the birthplace of Kokeshi dolls, these charming figures can be found across various regions of Tohoku, each imbued with unique variations and styles. 

With roots dating back to the Edo Period, these dolls transcend mere playthings, symbolising the exquisite craftsmanship of Japanese woodwork. Initially crafted as souvenirs for travelers frequenting Tohoku, the land of hot springs, the dolls’ designs often mirrored the characteristics of the local hot spring where they were sold. 

Common features of these dolls include the lack of limbs, vibrant colours, and the distinctive artistic style of their creators, serving as visual markers of their regional origins. Adorned with popular patterns such as flowers and bold accents, these dolls showcase unique expressions, each one individually crafted. To preserve the intricate designs over time, a layer of wax is commonly applied towards the end of the production process. 

Over time, Kokeshi dolls evolved beyond mere children's toys, transcending into symbols of hope for bountiful harvests and charms for prayers for good luck and fortune. Culturally distinctive and meticulously handcrafted, these dolls make exquisite gifts or charming ornaments for home decor.

 

Yamagata Prefecture: Otaka Poppo (お鷹ポッポ)

Toy hawk, a cultural symbol of YamagataThe Otaka Poppo, a traditional folk toy made using the Sasano Ittobori technique, featuring impressive details and fine knifework. | Photo by PhotoAC

Lying right next to Miyagi is another prefecture known for its own take on folk toys. The Otaka Poppo (お鷹ポッポ), which translates to “toy hawk” in the Ainu language, is a folk toy that originates from the Sasano (笹野) area of Yonezawa City (米沢市) in the Yamagata Prefecture (山形県). 

With a history spanning over a thousand years, the craft of creating Otaka Poppo, known as the Sasano Single Blade Carving (笹野一刀彫 Sasano Ittobori), is believed to have been first conceived as an auspicious act of worship by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (坂ノ上田村麻呂), a warrior from the Heian Period. Today, the Otaka Poppo continues to stand as the hallmark creation produced using this technique. 

Due to the historical association of hawks with Uesugi Yozan, a notable feudal lord remembered for his prosperous financial reforms, hawk-shaped products were regarded as auspicious charms capable of bringing prosperity and bountiful harvests to farmers. With the sarukiri (サルキリ), a special knife, in hand, craftsmen meticulously carve the Otaka Poppo from a single piece of Koshiabura (コシアブラ), one of the most durable trees. 

Each bold cut exudes elegance and affection while delicately capturing the soft, lifelike feathers of the hawk, reflecting the remarkable precision and skill of the craftsmen. You too can try your hand at painting your very own Otaka Poppo and bring home this charming symbol of happiness!

 

Fukushima Prefecture: Akabeko (赤べこ)

Akabeko, a symbol of Fukushima particularly from the Aizu RegionA folk toy originating from a local legend, the Akabeko is a charm that is believed to bring about good fortune and health. | Photo by PhotoAC

Nestled in the southernmost reaches of the Tohoku Region, Fukushima Prefecture (福島県) boasts a delightful folk toy symbolising the Aizu Region (会津): the Akabeko (赤べこ). This Aizu Hariko (張り子 paper-mache), portraying a crimson-red cow, is meticulously crafted from wood and washi paper. 

Fashioned since the 16th century, the Akabeko is steeped in a local legend tied to the reconstruction of Enzoji Temple (円蔵寺). Legend has it that following a devastating earthquake in the region, locals encountered challenges transporting timber and supplies upstream of the Tadami River (只見川), where the temple was situated. In their time of need, a herd of red cattle, or akabeko, reportedly emerged, lending assistance and facilitating the successful reconstruction of the temple. 

Ever since, this folk craft representing the Akabeko, which brought aid in times of need, has been cherished by the locals of Fukushima. Believed to have protected children from smallpox in the 16th century, the circles painted on the Akabeko's sides are said to symbolise pockmarks from smallpox, while the colour red, associated with good health, was believed to offer protection against illnesses.

Renowned for its endearing wobbly head and charming appearance, this folk craft makes for an adorable souvenir to bring home, embodying the rich tradition of fine craftsmanship and the enduring legacy of the Aizu region's history and folklore.

 

Explore Tohoku's Rich Tapestry with JAPAN RAIL CLUB

As you explore the rich tapestry of Tohoku's cultural icons, from the magnificent Nebuta Matsuri of Aomori to the intricate craftsmanship of the Akabeko in Fukushima, it becomes evident that each embodies not just tradition but also resilience, creativity, and a profound connection to the land and its people. So the next time you journey through Tohoku, immerse yourself in its rich heritage, and perhaps even take home a piece of its history to cherish—a reminder of the enduring spirit and beauty of Japan's northeastern gem.

 

Tasty Tohoku Treats Omiyage Snack Box by JAPAN RAIL CLUB
If edible souvenirs and crafted experiences are more towards your liking, consider subscribing to JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s Omiyage Snack Box! Curated and assembled in Japan, each month’s box offers an exciting range of Japanese snacks from all across the country, ensuring a delectable gastronomic journey from start to finish.

Exclusive to this month’s “Tasty Tohoku Treats” Omiyage Snack Box are delicious treats from Tohoku, including mouth-watering rice crackers from Akita and Yamagata, as well as the irresistible Pporo Chocolate by Ragueneau from Aomori. 

Subscribe to a 6-month plan by 31 March 2024 and get 20% off your subscription when you use the promo code "TTT20" upon checkout. Explore Tohoku’s culture and heritage with JAPAN RAIL CLUB today!

Meet the author

Dawn Sim

An avid lover of nature, photography, and Japanese literature, you will find Dawn (@oyakodawn) either lost in the midst of a historical pilgrimage route or in any local book cafes from the north all the way to the south of Japan. Dawn has lived in Kyoto for a year and still can’t get enough of its cultural and historical richness - not to mention the hipster cafes that serve to satisfy their coffee addiction!

Hungry for more?

Get on track with our monthly offerings of exclusive snacks from all over Japan!

Find what you’re interested in

Tsuyu & Minazuki: A Guide to Japan's Rainy Season in The "Month of Water"
Sue Lynn

Tsuyu & Minazuki: A Guide to Japan's Rainy Seas...

With a higher amount of rainfall as compared to other months of the year, it is no wonder that June is called the “month of water”, or minazuki (水無月) in...

Dawn Sim Summer

Tsuyu & Minazuki: A Guide to Japan's Rainy Seas...

With a higher amount of rainfall as compared to other months of the year, it...

Yummy Yamagata: 4 Reasons Why You Should Visit Yamagata This Summer
Sue Lynn

Yummy Yamagata: 4 Reasons Why You Should Visit ...

If you’re looking for a summer destination in Japan, a good candidate to consider then would be Yamagata Prefecture in the Tohoku region. Summer is in fact the best time...

Hui Min Food

Yummy Yamagata: 4 Reasons Why You Should Visit ...

If you’re looking for a summer destination in Japan, a good candidate to consider then...

10 Fun Facts about the Yamagata Shinkansen to Celebrate the Debut of the E8 Series Trains
Sue Lynn

Hello E8 Series! 10 Fun Facts about the Yamagat...

To celebrate the debut of the new E8 series trains by JR East, here are 10 fun facts that you may not know about the Yamagata Shinkansen

Carissa Loh Travel

Hello E8 Series! 10 Fun Facts about the Yamagat...

To celebrate the debut of the new E8 series trains by JR East, here are...

Hydrangeas
Sue Lynn

Tsuyu in Japan: Must-Visit Spots for Hydrangeas...

Planning to visit Japan during the rainy months? Check out this guide to learn more about hydrangeas and the must-visit places to enjoy viewing hydrangeas in Japan. 

Wendy Ng Nature

Tsuyu in Japan: Must-Visit Spots for Hydrangeas...

Planning to visit Japan during the rainy months? Check out this guide to learn more...

美味山形: 6個必吃的山形美食
Sue Lynn

美味山形: 6個必吃的山形美食

在日本東北地區的山形縣,因四面環山,自然景觀優美,加上豐富的美食文化而聞名。而山形的美食,也因受了當地豐富的歷史文化和自然環境深遠的影響,形成了獨特的飲食風格。 在這篇文章中,讓我們來看看山形縣六道必嚐的美食佳餚。

Carissa Loh Food

美味山形: 6個必吃的山形美食

在日本東北地區的山形縣,因四面環山,自然景觀優美,加上豐富的美食文化而聞名。而山形的美食,也因受了當地豐富的歷史文化和自然環境深遠的影響,形成了獨特的飲食風格。 在這篇文章中,讓我們來看看山形縣六道必嚐的美食佳餚。

Yamagata Delights include Yonezawa Beef and Cherries
Sue Lynn

Yummy Yamagata: 6 Must-Try Yamagata Delicacies

Nestled in Japan’s northeastern Tohoku Region, and surrounded by mountains on all sides, Yamagata Prefecture (山形県) is renowned for its natural beauty and culinary heritage. Its local cuisine is deeply...

Carissa Loh Food

Yummy Yamagata: 6 Must-Try Yamagata Delicacies

Nestled in Japan’s northeastern Tohoku Region, and surrounded by mountains on all sides, Yamagata Prefecture...

來自日本 水果王國的優質水果
Sue Lynn

美味山形:來自日本水果王國的優質水果

當你在日本旅遊時,每個縣市都會有它們當地的季節性水果。而且幾乎每個縣都設有有其農業部門,專門培育且種植當地的代表性水果,而其中,山形縣更是水果盛產的主要地區。就讓我們來探索這個堪稱是日本的水果王國,山形,一起品嚐這裡著名的櫻桃、水梨、葡萄等的優質水果。

Wendy Ng Food

美味山形:來自日本水果王國的優質水果

當你在日本旅遊時,每個縣市都會有它們當地的季節性水果。而且幾乎每個縣都設有有其農業部門,專門培育且種植當地的代表性水果,而其中,山形縣更是水果盛產的主要地區。就讓我們來探索這個堪稱是日本的水果王國,山形,一起品嚐這裡著名的櫻桃、水梨、葡萄等的優質水果。

Yummy Yamagata Fruit Kingdom
Sue Lynn

Yummy Yamagata: Best Fruits to Try in Japan's F...

Japan is renowned for producing high quality and a rich variety of fruits. Blessed with four distinct seasons and abundant natural resources, fruits are cultivated and harvested seasonally based on...

Wendy Ng

Yummy Yamagata: Best Fruits to Try in Japan's F...

Japan is renowned for producing high quality and a rich variety of fruits. Blessed with...

Sakata Beika Maker's Story by JAPAN RAIL CLUB
Sue Lynn

Maker's Story: Rice Crackers from Yamagata by S...

When it comes to rice crackers from Yamagata, no other company does it better than Sakata Beika (酒田米菓)! Priding themselves with creating the best rice crackers made with non-glutinous domestic...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker's Story: Rice Crackers from Yamagata by S...

When it comes to rice crackers from Yamagata, no other company does it better than...

Japan’s Culinary Wonder: Exploring the Delights of Konnyaku Jelly
Sue Lynn

Japan’s Culinary Wonder: Exploring the Delights...

If you visited a Japanese restaurant before, chances are you have encountered one of Japan’s unique culinary marvels known as konjac jelly or konnyaku (こんにゃく・コンニャク). Captivating food enthusiasts and health-conscious...

Snack Lover Food

Japan’s Culinary Wonder: Exploring the Delights...

If you visited a Japanese restaurant before, chances are you have encountered one of Japan’s...

The Art of Shinrin-yoku: Best Places to Experience Forest Bathing in Japan
Sue Lynn

The Art of Shinrin-yoku: Best Places to Experie...

Have you heard about Japan’s staggering number of national parks? With a total of 34 parks stretching from Hokkaido to Okinawa, Japan’s national parks are endowed with lush forests, dynamic...

Wendy Ng Nature

The Art of Shinrin-yoku: Best Places to Experie...

Have you heard about Japan’s staggering number of national parks? With a total of 34...

Uncovering the secret to Shizuoka's green tea
Sue Lynn

Shizuoka Green Tea: Uncovering the Secrets of J...

Having continuously cultivated and refined its flavours for centuries, Shizuoka produces exquisite green tea that is distinctively Japanese. What exactly sets Shizuoka tea apart and makes it so highly sought...

Dawn Sim

Shizuoka Green Tea: Uncovering the Secrets of J...

Having continuously cultivated and refined its flavours for centuries, Shizuoka produces exquisite green tea that...

Japanese matcha powder
Sue Lynn

So Much Matcha: The Many Ways to Enjoy Matcha

One of the most recognised flavours of Japan, matcha (抹茶) is a finely ground powder made with young tea leaves, characterised by its vibrant green colour that come from its...

Carissa Loh Culture

So Much Matcha: The Many Ways to Enjoy Matcha

One of the most recognised flavours of Japan, matcha (抹茶) is a finely ground powder...

Matcha
Sue Lynn

抹茶饗宴:探索抹茶的世界與日本頂尖抹茶產地

當我們提到日本,抹茶無疑的會被視為該國最具代表性的產品之一,但你知道抹茶的來源嗎?抹茶是由遮陽的環境下生長的綠茶茶葉,以石磨的方式加工成抹茶粉。並以其鮮豔的綠色、獨特的風味和多種健康益處而受到大家喜愛,也是長久以來一直讓日本人引以為傲的傳統。

Dawn Sim Culture

抹茶饗宴:探索抹茶的世界與日本頂尖抹茶產地

當我們提到日本,抹茶無疑的會被視為該國最具代表性的產品之一,但你知道抹茶的來源嗎?抹茶是由遮陽的環境下生長的綠茶茶葉,以石磨的方式加工成抹茶粉。並以其鮮豔的綠色、獨特的風味和多種健康益處而受到大家喜愛,也是長久以來一直讓日本人引以為傲的傳統。

Beyond beverages, matcha is also used in many other aspects of Japanese food, including Japanese wagashi and even in staples such as buckwheat noodles and mochi.
Sue Lynn

So Much Matcha: Exploring Matcha and The Top Ma...

Matcha, Japan’s most iconic green tea that has attained global popularity. | ©PhotoAC When you think of Japan, matcha (抹茶) or maccha inevitably comes to mind as one of the...

Dawn Sim Culture

So Much Matcha: Exploring Matcha and The Top Ma...

Matcha, Japan’s most iconic green tea that has attained global popularity. | ©PhotoAC When you...

抹茶饗宴:日本綠茶探索指南
Sue Lynn

抹茶饗宴:日本綠茶探索指南

你知道嗎?日本是世界第二大綠茶生產國,僅次於中國,而靜岡縣的茶就占全國生產量約40%。 一般來說,茶葉會經過蒸、揉和乾燥等過程來製作成飲用茶。採摘後的茶葉會被蒸熟以停止氧化,以保持茶葉的鮮綠色、營養和清新的香氣。

Carissa Loh

抹茶饗宴:日本綠茶探索指南

你知道嗎?日本是世界第二大綠茶生產國,僅次於中國,而靜岡縣的茶就占全國生產量約40%。 一般來說,茶葉會經過蒸、揉和乾燥等過程來製作成飲用茶。採摘後的茶葉會被蒸熟以停止氧化,以保持茶葉的鮮綠色、營養和清新的香氣。

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea in Japan
Sue Lynn

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea...

High in anti-oxidants and packed with anti-inflammatory properties, green tea (緑茶) is one of Japan’s most popular beverages and an important part of its culture, and can be found all...

Carissa Loh Culture

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea...

High in anti-oxidants and packed with anti-inflammatory properties, green tea (緑茶) is one of Japan’s...

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖
Sue Lynn

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikonocha Honpo
Sue Lynn

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea culture. Originally introduced by returning Buddhist monks from their travels in China in the 9th...

Sue Lynn Food

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea...

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji, Kyoto by Kyoeiseicha
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with the special “So Much Matcha” Omiyage Snack Box. May marks the start of the traditional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with...

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點
Sue Lynn

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Carissa Loh Culture

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Explore During Japan's Shinryoku Season
Sue Lynn

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for nature―Midori-no-Hi (みどりの日 Greenery Day). Observed annually on 4 May, this national holiday is a testament...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for...

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
Sue Lynn

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top producer of agricultural products and seafood: the vast lands covering Japan’s second largest island and...

Wendy Ng

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top...

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of Japan
Sue Lynn

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes but even amongst these, there are three locations that rise above the others and are...

Dawn Sim Nature

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes...

Japan celebrates Golden Week between April 29 to May 5
Sue Lynn

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of Japan's most prominent and bustling holiday periods, usually spans from late April to early May...

Dawn Sim Culture

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of...

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉
Sue Lynn

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Carissa Loh Nature

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Than Sakura
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with spring than the beloved cherry blossom (桜 sakura). However, other than these pretty, pink blossoms,...

Carissa Loh Nature

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with...

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in April and May
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of a new beginning in many Japanese literature. | Photo by Dawn Sim   A symbol...

Dawn Sim Spring

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other than the mesmerising cherry blossoms painting the landscape, spring is the best season to experience...

Wendy Ng Food

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festivals in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing with it beautiful flowers, comfortable temperatures, and a time of celebration. While most travellers head...

Carissa Loh Festival

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing...

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan
Sue Lynn

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich history and enduring cultural heritage, is particularly famous for its magnificent Japanese castles (お城 oshiro)....

Carissa Loh Culture

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich...

Sakura Karinto and Marui Suzuki
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions of celebrating this season is to enjoy “ohanami” (お花見)! Ohanami means “flower-viewing”, and this is...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions...

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the start of springtime in Japan. Spring is the prettiest and most enjoyable season with radiant...

Wendy Ng Spring

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the...

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of Shochu Distilleries in Miyazaki
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese drink more shochu than sake. Considered to be Japan's national spirit, Shochu is gaining great...

Wendy Ng

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese...

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons
Sue Lynn

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition, Tohoku (東北), the northeastern part of Japan comprising of six prefectures – Aomori (青森), Akita...

Dawn Sim Culture

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition,...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you can unearth more culinary treasures spread throughout the country if you venture into the less...

Wendy Ng Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you...

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots in Tokyo for Ohanami
Sue Lynn

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you have witnessed the enchanting sight of cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in full bloom. A cherry...

Carissa Loh Culture

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Tohoku
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six prefectures, and is a treasure trove of beautiful nature and fascinating history. It’s a wonderful...

Carissa Loh Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six...

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souvenir & Gift-Giving Culture
Sue Lynn

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably seen the colourful and beautifully packaged boxes of local confectionery filling the gift shops along...

Carissa Loh Culture

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably...

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers from Akita by Kanaeya
Sue Lynn

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers...

The Tohoku Region is home to some of Japan’s best untouched nature. Take Akita as an example, a prefecture where lush landscapes meet premium rice fields. Renowned for its exceptional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers...

The Tohoku Region is home to some of Japan’s best untouched nature. Take Akita as...

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from Takachiho (Winner of JR East Omiyage Grand Prix 2023 - Koshin’etsu Area Prize)
Sue Lynn

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from...

If you have been to Japan, you will understand the universal struggle of finding the perfect souvenir or omiyage (お土産) to bring home for your loved ones and colleagues. While...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from...

If you have been to Japan, you will understand the universal struggle of finding the...

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival Celebrating Girls’ Day
Sue Lynn

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival...

Displaying exquisitely made hina-ningyo dressed in traditional Heian attire is the main activity associated with the Hina Matsuri | ©photoAC Have you ever heard of Japan’s Hina Matsuri (雛祭)? Otherwise known...

Dawn Sim Culture

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival...

Displaying exquisitely made hina-ningyo dressed in traditional Heian attire is the main activity associated with the...

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Through The Eyes of Japanese Writers
Sue Lynn

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Throug...

If you are a fan of Japanese literature, take a walk in the footsteps of literary giants and look no further than Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島), which lies just about 1-2...

Dawn Sim Travel

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Throug...

If you are a fan of Japanese literature, take a walk in the footsteps of...

Mount Fuji with tea plantation in the foreground
Sue Lynn

Mount Fuji Day (23 February): 5 Ways to Enjoy J...

Standing at 3,776m above sea level, the almost perfectly symmetrical Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan) is Japan’s highest mountain, and has become a symbol of the country, recognised worldwide for its...

Carissa Loh Travel

Mount Fuji Day (23 February): 5 Ways to Enjoy J...

Standing at 3,776m above sea level, the almost perfectly symmetrical Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan) is...

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in Japan to Meet Feline Friends
Sue Lynn

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in J...

Are you a cat (猫 neko) lover? If you’ve been to Japan, you might have noticed how beloved cats are over there. Think maneki-neko (招き猫) cat figurines that beckon luck,...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in J...

Are you a cat (猫 neko) lover? If you’ve been to Japan, you might have...

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s Day in Japan
Sue Lynn

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s ...

Love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day! On 14 February, Valentine’s Day is universally celebrated across the globe where presents like chocolates, candies, and flowers are gifted...

Wendy Ng Culture

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s ...

Love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day! On 14 February, Valentine’s Day...

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the Izu Peninsula
Sue Lynn

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the...

With so many captivating attractions, you can spend days exploring the Izu Peninsula with your loved one, but where to start? Here are our top five picks for romantic dating...

Carissa Loh Travel

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the...

With so many captivating attractions, you can spend days exploring the Izu Peninsula with your...

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo”, Cafes, and the Railway Museum
Sue Lynn

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo...

Located just about half an hour north of Central Tokyo, Ōmiya Station (大宮駅 Ōmiya-eki) is the gateway to the neighbouring Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県). It is also a stop on more...

JAPANKURU Travel

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo...

Located just about half an hour north of Central Tokyo, Ōmiya Station (大宮駅 Ōmiya-eki) is...

February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi by Kameya Foods
Sue Lynn

February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi b...

Are you familiar with wasabi (わさび)? Made from the Wasabia japonica plant, wasabi or the Japanese horseradish is a unique spice native to Japan and is a staple in Japanese...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi b...

Are you familiar with wasabi (わさび)? Made from the Wasabia japonica plant, wasabi or the...

Winter Wonderland: 7 Snowiest Cities in Japan and Must-do Activities
Sue Lynn

Winter Wonderland: 7 Snowiest Cities in Japan a...

Winter season in Japan boasts some of its most amazing and picturesque sceneries, especially in regions lying alongside the Sea of Japan (日本海), otherwise known as Yukiguni (雪国), or Snow...

Dawn Sim Festival

Winter Wonderland: 7 Snowiest Cities in Japan a...

Winter season in Japan boasts some of its most amazing and picturesque sceneries, especially in...