Top things to do

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Yamadera

Risshaku-ji

The 'Temple of Standing Stones', more commonly known as Yamadera, rests atop a rock-hewn staircase weathered over the centuries by unrelenting elements. At the foot of the mountain, guarded by a small lantern, is th…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Shimokita Peninsula

Osorezan-bodaiji

This holy shrine at Osore-zan's summit is a moving, mesmerisingly atmospheric and beautiful place honouring Jizō Bosatsu, protector of children and a much-loved deity in Japanese mythology. It's also said to be loca…
Top Choice Mountain in Dewa Sanzan

Haguro-san

The 2446 stone steps through ancient cedars to Haguro-san's summit (419m) have been smoothed by centuries of pilgrims. The climb, taking up to two hours, passes Gojū-no-tō (五重塔), a beautiful wooden five-storey pagod…
Top Choice Mountain in Dewa Sanzan

Gas-san

Accessible from July to September, Gas-san (1984m) is the highest of Dewa Sanzan's sacred mountains. From Hachigōme (八合目; eighth station), the route passes through an alpine plateau to Kyūgōme (九合目; ninth station) i…
Top Choice Mountain in Dewa Sanzan

Yudono-san

Accessible from May to October, Yudono-san (1504m) is the spiritual culmination of the Dewa Sanzan trek. Coming from Gas-san, it's a short walk from the stream bed at the end of the descent to Yudono-san-jinja.
Top Choice Bar in Sendai

Peter Pan

A music-loving father-and-son team runs this lounge-room-vibe 'rock' bar. Dad provides the soundtrack with his extensive, alternative-rock vinyl collection, while Son busies himself with the clientele. Coffee, booze…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Hiraizumi

Chūson-ji

Established in AD 850 by the priest Ennin, this complex was expanded by the Ōshu Fujiwara family in the 12th century. A total of 300 buildings with 40 temples were constructed. Ironically, the family's grand scheme …
Top Choice Archaeological Site in Aomori

Sannai Maruyama Site

Excavation of this site turned up an astonishing number of intact artefacts from Japan's Jōmon era (10,000 to 2000 years ago), which are on display at the museum here. Clay figures, jade beads and large chestnut pil…
Top Choice Food Hall in Hirosaki

Kadare Yokochō

In the evening, university students flock to this nondescript office building housing eight tiny restaurants, most doubling as bars. It's a lively local hang-out. Hinata-bokko (日向ぼっこ), with the orange noren curtains…
Top Choice Market in Aomori

Shinsen Ichiba

Cut out the middle man and head straight for the famed Aomori seafood market where piles of produce including scallops, codfish, apples, pickled vegetables and many other foods are laid out for restaurateurs to hand…