Miyagi is the gateway of the Tohoku region. Tohoku is comprised of the six northernmost prefectures of Honshu, Japan’s main island: Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima, Iwate, Akita, and Aomori. The region as a whole is characterized by vibrant rural culture, delicious local cuisine, and stunning nature that changes dramatically with the seasons, though each prefecture of course has its own unique appeal. Hiraizumi in Iwate is home to a golden temple designated a World Heritage Site, while Yamagata is home to spiritual sites expressing rugged beauty, exemplified by the Yamadera temple complex carved into the rocky face of a mountain. Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture boasts a samurai district home to genteel gardens, while Ouchijuku deep in the mountains of Fukushima was once a post town for traveling warlords and maintains its samurai-era appearance. Aomori is home to pristine nature like the primeval beech forests of the Shirakami Sanchi World Heritage site, but also manmade landmarks like the Towada Art Center, home to thought-provoking contemporary art. Despite its many charms, Tohoku remains well off the beaten path and largely free of tourist crowds. With every Tohoku prefecture accessible from Miyagi by rail in under 80 minutes, Miyagi makes a convenient base for traveling throughout Tohoku.
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