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A Muslim Traveller’s Guide To Tohoku, Japan: What To See, Do & Eat

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Atiqah Mokhtar  •  Nov 22, 2019

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Before our trip to the Tohoku region of Japan, we have to admit, we didn’t know much about it even though it’s only a couple of hours away from Tokyo. But our trip (check out our 6D5N itinerary!) blew us away with the amazing experiences the region has to offer! Credit: Giphy If you’re wondering which part of Tohoku you should explore first, our ultimate Muslim-friendly guide to Tohoku will come in handy! Here’s an overview of what Tohoku is all about and why it’s perfect for your next Japan adventure.
Where is Tohoku?
 So what and where exactly is Tohoku? It’s actually a region of Japan covering the northeast of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, and neighbours the Kanto region where Tokyo is located. It comprises six prefectures - Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Aomori, Akita, and Yamagata. Tohoku is known for its natural beauty filled with mountains, lakes and hot springs. Its more remote location makes it a perfect retreat for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities. But it wouldn’t be fair to say Tohoku’s attractions are just its beautiful landscapes - the region has a whole host of offerings that are calling to be explored, from cultural and historical landmarks to delicious Muslim-friendly food and one-of-a-kind experiences! 
Best way to explore Tohoku
If you’re looking to explore multiple areas in the region at once (like we did!), the best way to do this is to travel by train! Tohoku is very accessible from Tokyo, thanks to the JR East train network that extends across the area. With multiple shinkansen lines and other routes servicing the region, we found getting around to be very easy, relatively quick and comfortable.
We used the JR East Tohoku area pass, which is valid for 5 days across a 14-day period. The flexibility makes it a great option for travellers since you can stay longer in one area to explore further before continuing to use your pass on your next travelling day. We also loved how for many of the trains, we were able to reserve seating up to 1 month in advance. #HHWT Tip: Plan your itinerary in advance so that you can reserve your train seats too! Trust us, you don’t want to be standing when you could be relaxing on a long train journey. 
What to see, eat and do in Tohoku
 Tohoku has an abundance of treasures that await you! To make it easier, we’ve split this section according to prefectures, so you can get a better idea of the unique offerings each one has to offer.  Miyagi Capital city: Sendai Notable attractions: Sendai, Matsushima Bay, Tashirojima Cat Island, Okama Crater Lake Must-try food: Gyutan and zunda in Sendai, grilled oysters in Matsushima, Hagi No Tsuki Getting there: Around 90 minutes from Tokyo to Sendai via the Akita or Tohoku Shinkansen (covered under the JR East Pass) We’re starting with the Miyagi prefecture, which is home to a city many have probably already heard of - Sendai! This capital city is the largest in the whole Tohoku region and often serves as a great base for people to stay at while exploring other areas (as we did for part of our trip - check out our 6D5N Tohoku itinerary!).
As Sendai was founded during the Edo period in the 1600s by legendary samurai lord Date Masamune, you’ll find various historical sites in relation to him. Notable spots include Sendai Castle (also known as Aoba Castle), where you’ll see the iconic monument of Date Masamune (as well as great views of the city!), Zuihoden Mausoleum , the final resting place of the samurai lord and his kin, as well as the Osaki Hachimangu Shrine. #HHWT Tip: Do note that there isn’t actually a castle at the Sendai Castle site as it was damaged by a number of fires and earthquakes over time. Only the castle walls remain, but it still makes for a great spot to visit!
Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization A visit to Sendai also isn’t fully complete without a stroll down Jozenji-dori Avenue. Sendai has many roads and parks lined with trees, and Jozenji-dori is a beautiful example. Fun fact: Sendai is also known as the City of Trees! While the lush greenery of the trees is gorgeous in the warmer months, in autumn you’ll see lovely autumn foliage colours and in winter, the trees are spectacularly lit up at night during an event called the Pageant of Starlight Winter Illumination.
Credit: @andrew.the.cyclist on Instagram #HHWT Tip: If you visit Sendai in early August, be sure to catch the Tanabata Festival! One of the three major festivals of the Tohoku region, this summer festival is popular for its beautiful handmade decorations.
Be sure to taste some of Sendai’s food specialities, most notably gyutan  (beef tongue)!  Typically served in slices which are grilled, gyutan’s chewy texture is distinctive and definitely a must-try for meat lovers! While it’s a bit difficult to find halal gyutan in the city, we were able to try it at Hayase, a restaurant located at Hotel Metropolitan Sendai. Hayase offers a halal-certified menu and can also arrange for halal gyutan if you make reservations at least one week in advance. (Phone number: +81-22-267-2143) #HHWT Tip: If you’re looking for a place to stay in the city, Hotel Metropolitan Sendai is a great option, given that two of its restaurants (Hayase and Serenity) offer a separate halal-certified menu for Muslim guests. Plus, the location of the hotel right next to Sendai station makes it super convenient too! Another option would be its sister hotel, Hotel Metropolitan Sendai East, that’s located a short walk away (it’s where we stayed during our time in Sendai!). 
Another delicacy to try is zunda, a sweet edamame paste that’s used in dessert items. At Sendai station, you’re bound to see plenty of Zunda Saryo shops selling zunda products.  Give the zunda milkshake a try (made only with milk and zunda) or the mochi! 
Disclaimer:  Based on our checks with staff at Zunda Saryo, the zunda mochi served in the cafe as well as the packaged zunda mochi are made with plant-based emulsifiers. Please note that other Zunda Saryo products may contain alcohol or use ingredients that are not plant-based, hence we advise that for those items for you to clarify with staff and dine at your own discretion. Here are some useful phrases to help you out! Japaneses phrases you can use to check if the ingredients are Muslim-friendly!
Credit: Yoshihide Urushihara on Flickr Venturing out from the city area, one destination that’s popular for day trips is Matsushima. Home to the Matsushima Bay that’s renowned for its 260 pine-covered islands, it has a reputation as one of the three most scenic spots in all of Japan.
Credit: @linduzki on Instagram You can take a boat ride through the bay to see the different islands scattered about, many which have their own name and story. While on the boat, you’re also bound to see Fukuura Bridge, the bright red bridge that connects the mainland to Fukuura Island , one of the larger islands in the bay. You can cross the bridge (for a fee of JPY200) to get to the island, which has walking trails for you to enjoy. Other spots to visit in Matsushima include the Zuiganji and Godaido temples and also Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park for some stunning views (especially during cherry blossom season!).
If you’re in Matsushima, be sure to try a local favourite - grilled oysters! Oysters are grown in the bay and you’ll find several eateries offering all-you-can-eat grilled oyster buffets in the city. During our trip, we ate at Matsu (check out our itinerary for more details!) and the oysters were super fresh and delicious! Disclaimer: Do note that Matsu serves non-halal food, however, the oysters are grilled separately in specialised grilling containers. Matsu also serves alcoholic beverages and we recommend that you dine there at your own discretion.
For a sweet treat, do drop by Kanrantei Tea House, a traditional tea house that overlooks the bay where you can enjoy Japanese desserts in a tranquil setting. Access to Matsushima: 40 minutes by local train from Sendai Station to Matsushima Kaigan Station on the JR Senseki Line.
Credit: @cat_island_traveler on Instagram   As you venture from Sendai to the north you’ll encounter Sanriku Coast, the coastal line that stretches across three prefectures in Tohoku. Here, you’ll find Ishinomaki, a port city that’s known for Tashirojima, one of Japan’s cat islands where cats roam freely. Ishinomaki also conveniently has Muslim-friendly places to dine, including the popular Yahataya! The restaurant can prepare meals made with halal-certified ingredients and seasonings (with reservations required in advance). Disposable cutlery is also provided. It’s a great spot to stop and eat or get a takeaway bento before taking the ferry to Tashirojima from Ishinomaki port. Disclaimer: Do note that that Yahataya also serves non-halal food as well as alcoholic beverages. We recommend that you dine at your own discretion. Access to Ishinomaki: 1-1.5 hours by train from Sendai Station to Ishinomaki Station on the JR Senseki Line. Towards the south of Sendai, Miyagi is known for Okama Crater, a crater-lake surrounded by three mountains in the Zao mountain range. 
The Tohoku region has plenty of souvenirs that are special to each prefecture, and many of them are Muslim-friendly! For Sendai, be sure to try its famous souvenir Hagi No Tsuki, a custard-filled sponge cake that’s free from animal-derived ingredients and alcohol. P.S. Find out more about the Miyagi prefecture here. Iwate  Capital city: Morioka Notable attractions: Geibikei, Chuson-Ji, Ryusendo Cave, POKEMON with YOU Joyful Train Must-try food: Wanko Soba, Kamome no Tamago Getting: About 2 hours 15 minutes away from Tokyo to Morioka by the Tohoku or Akita Shinkansen (covered under the JR East Pass) Iwate is a large prefecture also located on the Pacific coast of Tohoku, right above Miyagi. As Iwate is filled with mountainous areas (including Mount Iwate) and pristine coastlines, you’ll get to see more of Tohoku’s incredible natural landscapes! Morioka is a good base to explore Iwate and neighbouring prefectures towards the north of Tohoku like Aomori and Akita. Iwate’s popular attractions are also spread across other cities and towns in the prefecture like Ichinoseki and Hiraizumi.
Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization One of Iwate’s most popular attractions is Geibikei (Geibi Gorge) , located in Ichinoseki. This 2km stretch of water from the Satetsu River is surrounded by limestone cliffs and greenery. Take a 90-minute tour on a traditional boat pushed by boatmen through the gorge, which is exceptionally beautiful in all seasons - lush and green in the warm months, with views of wisteria flowers in spring, foliage in autumn and snow-covered landscapes in winter. Geibikei is also very convenient to access (just a short walk away from Geibikei station) and wonderfully Muslim-friendly! Geibi Resthouse located by the gorge not only has prayer facilities but can also arrange for Muslim-friendly meals using only vegetarian and/or seafood ingredients as well as halal-certified seasonings!
Disclaimer: Please note that the restaurant also serves non-halal food as well as alcoholic beverages. We recommend that you dine at your own discretion. Do make reservations in advance for your Muslim-friendly meal, preferably up to a week in advance (you can contact the reservation office which manages the hotel and restaurant bookings at +81-191-47-2341 or find more details on their website).
One attraction in Ichinoseki that captured our hearts was the super adorable POKÉMON with YOU Joyful Train (covered under the JR East Pass) that we took from Ichinoseki to Geibikei station!  Dedicated to everything Pikachu, the train not only has seats all decked out in Pikachu colours but also a playroom car that’s filled with Pikachu plushies, train consoles, Pikachu accessories and more!  #HHWT Tip: Do note that the train usually runs once a day only on weekends, public holidays and Japanese school holidays, though the schedule may differ from month-to-month. Check the scheduled days and timings of the train on the JR East seat reservation website. The train is super popular and given its more limited schedule and smaller size, we highly recommend that you plan ahead and book your tickets as far in advance as possible as they do tend to run out quickly!
Iwate is also known for a unique dining experience - wanko soba challenge! It’s a style of eating in which you are served bowl after bowl of soba noodles, with the aim of eating 100 bowls or as many as you can. Check out our detailed account of our wanko soba experience (and find out if we managed to eat 100 bowls!). You can find Muslim-friendly wanko soba at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka at its Honten and Otesaki outlets. Disclaimer:  Azumaya offers a Muslim-friendly version of wanko soba that's made with seafood-based broth and does not contain alcohol at its Honten and Otesaki outlets. Please note that the eatery does serve non-halal menu items (including pork), however, based on our checks, different cooking utensils are used to handle the ingredients that go into the broth. Reservations for the Muslim-friendly wanko soba must be made at least 3 days in advance via telephone (you find Azumaya’s contact details here). Please note that alcoholic beverages are also served, and we recommend that you dine at your own discretion.
Besides trying Wanko Soba, be sure to bring back Iwate’s popular food souvenir – Kamome no Tamago! It translates to seagull eggs in English, but it’s actually a cake filled with sweet bean paste that’s coated in white chocolates. Kamome no Tamago is fully made with plant-based ingredients and does not contain alcohol, making it a great Muslim-friendly treat.
Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organisation Other popular attractions include the Chuson-ji Temple located in Hiraizumi, Koiwai Farm (a 3,000-acre farm famous for its dairy products and beautiful grounds called Makinba-en), as well as the Ryusendo Cave (one of three major limestone caves in Japan!).
Credit: AppiResort.en on Facebook If you’re looking for a unique stay in Iwate, look no further than Appi Ski Resort . The resort is located in the mountainous area of north Iwate, less than an hour’s drive from Morioka. It comprises of a number of hotels and is a popular ski destination during the wintertime but would be beautiful to stay at any time of the year! Hotel Appi Grand at the resort has Japanese restaurant Nanashigure which offers a halal-certified menu for Muslim guests. Reservations for Muslim-friendly meals are required 5 days in advance (email [email protected]), and the restaurant can even cater to guests’ budget and taste preferences! P.S. Find out more about the Iwate prefecture here. Aomori Capital city: Aomori Notable attractions: Hirosaki Castle, Nebuta Warasse, Oirase Gorge Must-try food: Nokke-don, apple products Accessibility: About 3 hours from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori station on the Tohoku Shinkansen (covered under the JR East pass) Aomori lies at the northernmost tip of Tohoku and is famous for some spectacular nature offerings as well as for being the largest producer of apples in all of Japan! 
Aomori city is the capital of this prefecture and is known for the Nebuta Matsuri, which is arguably the most famous festival in all of Tohoku. Featuring daily processions of intricate floats, dancers and musicians, the festival is held from 2 - 7 August each year. But if you can’t make it for the festival, the next best option is to visit Nebuta Warasse , a museum dedicated to the festival! Here you’ll be able to see festival floats, learn about the festival’s history, and play traditional musical instruments, among other things. 
Aomori is also known for its fresh seafood, and if you’re in the city, have a unique meal at Aomori Gyosai Center (also known as Furukawa Fish Market, a 5min walk from Aomori Station), where you can try nokke-don! Nokke-don means ‘rice bowl with toppings’, and at this market, you can purchase coupons and browse around the various stalls, swapping coupons for seafood toppings of your choice 😍 Disclaimer: Do note that some vendors may offer non-seafood options like cooked chicken or beef and that the condiments provided (including soy sauce) may contain alcohol. We recommend that you dine at your own discretion and bring your own soy sauce from home if needed 😊 In addition, for ikura (fish roe), please note that they are usually prepared and seasoned in either salt or shoyu (a mixture of soy sauce and mirin which contains alcohol). It’s best to check with the individual vendors directly on how their ikura is prepared. Check out our guide on useful Japanese phrases for checking ingredients so you know what and how to ask!    Hirosaki is another notable city in the Aomori prefecture. While smaller than the capital, it offers some gems that make an excursion there totally worthwhile. Aomori city and Hirosaki are connected by a few train lines, but a fun way to get there is by taking the Resort Shirakami Joyful Train (covered under the JR Pass)!
Credit: Carissa Loh, East Japan Railway Company The train runs between Aomori Akita, and if you take the train all the way, you’ll be able to admire the scenic view of the coastline. You’ll also be able to enjoy performances onboard such as people playing traditional instruments and puppet shows. The train also makes short pit-stops along the way where you can disembark and enjoy the scenery.
Credit: Hirosaki City, JNTO, East Japan Railway Company Once in Hirosaki, a must-visit spot is Hirosaki Castle. This regal castle is best known for its castle grounds which are an incredible place to view the full splendour of cherry blossoms when they’re in season. The Hirosaki Sakura Festival is held annually from late April to early May to celebrate the event and visitors can expect amazing sights such as the cherry blossom trees being illuminated at night, the “sakura carpet” (where the falling petals of the cherry blossoms completely blanket the still waters of the castle moat), and the gorgeous view of the castle surrounded by the pink cherry blossoms. 
While in Hirosaki, you can also drop by Hirosaki Apple Park to get a taste of Aomori apples for yourself! The park is filled with 1,300 apple trees of various varieties. You can pick up to 3 apples per person, and pay by weight (around JPY 300 for 3 apples).  #HHWT Tip: The best time to pick is from October to November, though there are certain apple varieties that are harvested as early as August. Do check ahead of time if you’re visiting outside the peak harvesting period!
Don’t forget to bring back some apples or apple products as a souvenir when visiting Aomori! Lookout for Apple & Snack Co brand apple chips – they’re a popular snack to buy in Aomori and its ingredients are free from any animal-derived ingredients or alcohol.
Credit: @leelee_fuji on Instagram Another popular attraction in Aomori is Oirase Gorge. Flowing from the majestic Lake Towada (the largest lake in Japan’s Honshu island), visitors can hike or cycle along the river valley filled with beautiful scenery, waterfalls, and flowing streams. It’s particularly gorgeous during autumn and is a well-known location to see the autumn foliage. Visitors can get to Oirase Gorge by taking the JR Tohoku bus from Aomori station or Shin-Aomori station. The bus ride takes about 2.5 hours and is fully covered by the JR East Pass, with no reservations required. The buses run frequently, so if you’re not looking to do a lot of walking, you can hop off at popular photo spots along the route, take photos, then easily get on the next bus to go to the next scenic spot 😉 P.S. Find out more about the Aomori prefecture here. Yamagata Capital city: Yamagata Notable attractions: Fruit-picking, Yamadera (Risshaku-ji Temple), Ginzan Onsen Must-try food: Yamagata fruits (especially cherries!) Accessibility: Yamagata city is about 3 hours away from Tokyo via the Yamagata Shinkansen (covered under the JR East Pass) Yamagata is a prefecture that’s probably best known for being a winter wonderland during cold months. Every year, many visit the famous Zao Onsen (hot spring) ski resort to hit the slopes and see the frost-covered trees that are known as juhyo (snow monsters)! Take the  Zao Ropeway  for the best view of this unique seasonal landscape. Access to Zao Onsen: 40min bus ride from JR Yamagata Station #HHWT Tip: The best time to see the juhyo is usually in February, though it’ll also depend on weather conditions.
Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organisation It’s probably no surprise that visiting the onsen is another popular activity in this mountainous prefecture. One place that stands out is Ginzan Onsen, a hot spring town where you’ll find charming ryokan (inns) along either side of a stretch of Ginzan river. The traditional-style inns and rustic streetlamps make for a beautiful nostalgic sight. You can dip your feet in the free foot bath along the river! Access to Ginzan Onsen: 40 min by bus from JR Oishida Station on the Yamagata Shinkansen Line.
Credit: @girl1004j on Instagram You’ll probably have noted by now that Tohoku has numerous onsens which many locals enjoy visiting and staying overnight to fully enjoy the facilities. If you’re hoping to experience an onsen in Yamagata, you’ll be glad to hear that a Muslim-friendly onsen is available near Mount Gassan! Ochimizu No Yu Tsutaya has private onsen rooms available and can even prepare Muslim-friendly meals for those staying at the resort! Read more about Ochimizu No Yu Tsutaya here.
A unique way to enjoy a footbath is to travel on the Toreiyu Tsubasa Joyful Train (covered under the JR East pass)! Part of the Yamagata Shinkansen line, the train runs from Shinjo all the way to Fukushima, so it’s an extra fun way to travel between prefectures, mostly because the train actually has a footbath onboard 😉
Credit: Tohoku Tourism on Facebook While winter is a special time to visit Yamagata, the warmer months aren’t to be missed. Mount Zao becomes a popular trekking destination, while the rest of the prefecture produces an abundance of delicious fruits depending on the season. It’s famous for its cherries, which are harvested in June and July, and you can even visit one of the many orchards in the area to pick and eat them!
When we visited in September, it wasn’t the cherry season, but we got to pick grapes instead and they were the sweetest we ever had 😍 #HHWT Tip: We picked the grapes at Mahoroba Orchard , where you can pick and eat as many grapes as you want for JPY800 per adult and JPY500 per child. Do note that if you don’t finish your grapes and want to bring home the excess, you’ll be charged an extra fee by weight of the grapes. There are many other orchards in Yamagata that specialise in different fruits - you can  read more about it here.
Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organisation If you’re looking for a tranquil spot with amazing views, be sure to visit the Risshaku-ji Temple (also known as Yama-dera). Perched on a mountain, this Buddhist temple is considered a sacred spot to the locals. It takes about an hour to trek the 1,000 steps to the top, but the view from the temple will be worth it! Access to Yamadera: 1 hour train ride from from Sendai Station to Yamadera Station on the JR Senzan Line. Or 20 min train ride from Yamagata Station to Yamadera Station on the JR Senzan Line. P.S. Find out more about the Yamagata prefecture here. Fukushima Capital city: Fukushima Notable attractions: Tsuruga Castle, Ouchijuku, Hanamiyama Park Must-try food: Fukushima fruit products, Mamadoru Accessibility: About 1.5 hours away from Tokyo by Tohoku or Yamagata Shinkansen (covered under the JR Pass)  Most people know of Fukushima from the tragic incident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that happened in 2011. But this prefecture (the third-largest in all of Japan!), is bouncing back from the incident. Many of Fukushima’s attractions are concentrated in the central area close to Fukushima city, away from the exclusion zone surrounding the plant (where entry is prohibited), with radiation levels that are well within the safe range.  Fukushima prefecture remains a beautiful region filled with mountainous regions, hot springs and lakes. It’s also known for its produce, including a variety of fruits and sake production.
Credit: @tammemeee on Instagram Aizu-wakamatsu, located about 1.5-2 hours away from Fukushima city, is a historic city rich in samurai heritage. Here’s you’ll be able to visit Tsuruga-jo Castle, the picturesque castle reconstructed similar to its original 16th-century version which was demolished. It’s also famous for being a great spot to view cherry blossoms or autumn foliage. 
Credit: @ericoco19 on Instagram For another fascinating look at Japan’s Edo period, head to Ouchijuku , the preserved site of a former post-town (settlements where travellers could rest during journeys through the region). Here, you can go back in time and see houses and furnishings from that era. 
If you’re travelling to Aizu-wakamatsu by train, one way to jazz up your trip and get a chance to try some of Fukushima’s fruits is to take the FruiTea Fukushima Joyful Train which runs along the Banetsu Nishi line between Koriyama and Kitakata. This quaint train features cafe-style booth seating, where guests are served fruit desserts made with Fukushima fruits that are in season (do note that the desserts served change according to the fruits in season. We recommend that you clarify the ingredients of the desserts with staff before consumption and to dine at your own discretion). #HHWT Tip: This train is not covered under the JR East Tohoku Area pass and will require separate purchase of tickets, which will include the basic fare for travelling on the train, your reserved seat ticket, as well as the desserts served. It costs JPY5,000 per person one-way if you take the train from Aizu-Wakamatsu to Koriyama (like we did). The train also operates mainly on weekends only, so do plan ahead if you’re intending to take it!
If you’re travelling in Fukushima, lookout for Mamadoru , a baked cake filled with buttery paste filling. It’s made without animal-based emulsifiers or shortening and is free from alcohol, making it a great Muslim-friendly souvenir to bring home!  Akita Capital city: Akita Notable attractions: Kakunodate, Lake Tazawa, Kanto Matsuri Accessibility: About 3 hours and 50 minutes (from Tokyo to Akita station) via the Akita Shinkansen (covered under the JR East pass). Akita is a prefecture facing the Sea of Japan and home to several hot springs within its mountainous areas. Its capital city of the same name sits right by the coast and is probably most famous for the Akita Kanto Festival, a summer festival that’s held every year from 3 - 6 August. Featuring distinct bamboo poles that are hung with lanterns, spectators can see these poles being balanced on the bodies of festival performers.
Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organisation Akita is also known for its onsen, which can be found around the stunning Lake Tazawa area. 
Credit: @paviben on Instagram For a more cultural attraction, Kakunodate Samurai District is a former castle town during the Edo period where one can immerse in traditional settings (it’s known as Little Kyoto of Tohoku!) and is also popular for cherry blossom viewing. 
Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization  Another unique attraction is the Namahage Museum, a museum dedicated to the Namahage folk ritual performed throughout the Oga Peninsula area of Akita during New Year’s Eve. Locals dress up in fearsome masks and straw garments to become the Namahage and visit houses in town, scaring children to ensure they behave and also to bring good luck for the new year. Fun fact: The prefecture is also very proud of the Akita breed of dog that originated there! The most famous Akita dog is probably Hachiko. who loyally waited for his owner at the train station everyday even when the owner had passed away. The story of Hachiko became so popular that there’s even a bronze statue of him near Shibuya station in Tokyo! In addition, the city of Odate currently even has two Akita dogs as honourary station masters. P.S. Find out more about the Akita prefecture here.  The Tohoku region is such a fascinating part of Japan that still lies under the radar for many. Getting around the parts of Tohoku we visited was super convenient thanks to the JR East Tohoku Area Pass, with the Joyful Trains adding a fun touch to the train travel that we did. We truly hope more Muslim travellers get to enjoy the wonders of Tohoku 😊 Check our 6D5N Muslim-friendly Tohoku itinerary to get you started! Information on the JR East Tohoku Area Pass 
Credit: East Japan Railway Company 
  • The JR East Tohoku area pass is a special pass available for tourists that allows unlimited rides on all JR East train lines in the designated area (as shown above). This includes the shinkansen, limited express, airport trains (i.e. Narita Express for Narita Airport, Tokyo Monorail for Haneda Airport and Sendai Airport Transit for Sendai Airport). 
  • Price: The JR East Tohoku area pass is priced at JPY19,350 for adults and JPY9,670 for children (aged 6 – 11)when you buy it overseas. We do recommend this as it’s slightly cheaper than buying it in Japan, which would cost JPY20,360 for adults and JPY10,180 for children. 
  • Duration: This flexible pass can be used on any five days within 14 days of issuance, so you can stay overnight at any of the cities you explore in Tohoku without worrying about having to use your pass!  
  • Advanced seat reservations: The pass also allows you to make seat reservations for trains with reserved seating (such as for the shinkansen as well as the Joyful Trains) up to 1 month in advance from 10am Japan time for free. It’s highly recommended to reserve your seats in advance for travel during peak periods or for popular trains with limited seating like the Joyful Trains. 
  • Eligibility to purchase: Only foreign passport-holders on short-term tourist visas are eligible to purchase the pass.
The JR East Pass (Tohoku) can be purchased from:  This article was brought to you by East Japan Railway Company