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Northern Honshū

History

Originally inhabited by the Ezo people, who are believed to have been related to the Ainu of Hokkaidō, Tōhoku was settled during the 7th to 9th centuries, when Japanese from the south spread northward, searching for arable new land.

In the 11th century the Northern Fujiwara clan ruled from Hiraizumi, a settlement reputed to rival Kyoto for its majesty and opulence. Aizu-Wakamatsu and Morioka were also important feudal towns.

Date Masamune represents the cornerstone of Tōhoku’s feudal history. In 1601 construction commenced on Date’s castle at the former fishing village of Sendai; the clan would go on to rule for close to 300 years, a reign that ushered in Tōhoku’s Golden Age.

Unfortunately, Tōhoku regained ‘backwater’ status when the Meiji Restoration wiped out clan rule. It subsequently suffered years of neglect, a trend that was reversed only after WWII and the subsequent drive for development heavily based on industrial growth. Iron, transport, steel, chemical, pulp and petroleum were among the major industries that sprouted during this time. These days tourism is a major player in the region’s economic health.