Introducing Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)
'The rough sea, stretching out towards Sado, the Milky Way.'
Matsuo Bashō, The Narrow Road to the Deep North (1689)
In the days of Matsuo Bashō, the famous travelling poet, a trip to Northern Honshū was synonymous with walking to the ends of the earth. Tōhoku (東北; literally 'northeast') is still very much the rugged north, a land of hulking volcanic massifs and remote hot springs, of ancient folk beliefs and unique customs born of centuries of isolation.
In a sense, nothing has changed, and yet everything has changed. In 2011, an enormous earthquake and tsunami destroyed a long stretch of coastline. The recovery effort, happening at both government and grassroots levels, faces enormous challenges, but this shouldn't stop you from visiting. The vast majority of Northern Honshū was spared significant damage and remains as attractive as ever to those seeking, as Bashō was, an off-the-beaten-track adventure.