Stretching nearly 1,200 km (700 mi) north from Tokyo, the Tohoku region offers visitors a very different experience to the hustle and bustle of the Tokaido seaboard; this is an area in which to lose yourself in the romance of a rural Japan where samurai once fought to win control of the nation for their warlord masters.
Tiny hot-spring towns are liberally scattered throughout Tohoku, offering revitalisation for the body, whilst the sacred mountains of the Dewa Sanzen allow visitors to connect with the quiet spirituality and mysticism of the Japanese spirit.
Little-visited and often overlooked, Tohoku is a beautiful and remote region with fabulous skiing, great food and excellent festivals - deserving of much more attention than it gets.Alastair Donnelly - Director
The largest city in the northern part of Japan's main island, Sendai is a pleasant and airy city with a modern face and a good deal of history.
Aomori is a modern city situated on Mutsu Bay and bordered by the Hakkoda mountain range. The important fishing and shipping centre was completely rebuilt after the war, giving it some interesting and unique modern architecture.
Hiraizumi is a town with a long and distinguished history. Once the seat of power for the Fujiwara clan, today Hiraizumi is a quiet backwater town. But the spectacular Konjiki-do Golden Hall and serene stillness of the gardens of Motsuji are reminders of a more refined and glorious age.
One of only a few large cities on the northwest coast of Japan and is an important port and industrial centre
Only a handful of foreign visitors to Japan make it to Yamagata, but if you are one of them you can be sure of a good time and an insight into Japan beyond the bright lights and classic tourist sights.
Lake Tazawa (Tazawa-ko in Japanese) is situated in the heart of rural Akita Prefecture in northern Tohoku. The lake is Japan's deepest at over 400m, and is surrounded by gently sloping hills and farmland, with a couple of small villages dotted around the edge of the lake.
Yamadera, or more accurately Risshaku-ji is a temple in rural Yamagata Prefecture. The main temple buildings are perched precariously on a densely wooded hillside, with sub-temples, gateways and Buddhist decorations dotted along the stone pathway that winds its way up the hillside to the summit.
Kakunodate is a small town in Akita Prefecture, close to the capital city of the same name. The town was founded in the early 1600s as a military outpost with a castle and a collection of grand samurai mansions and more modest merchant homes as the class system dictated.
Lake Towada and the neighbouring Oirase stream are a great example of the natural beauty of Northern Japan, that most foreign visitors hardly even know about, let alone get to visit
This is the ultimate onsen experience, and if you left the big cities alarmed at the pace of modern Japanese life, a visit to Nyuto Onsen will reassure you that traditional ways are very much alive and well in Japan.
One of Japan's official top three scenic sites, the unspoilt area of Matsushima is famous for its sea views and sunsets.
Hirosaki is a pleasant castle town in the southern part of Aomori prefecture, the northernmost on Japan's main island. The town developed in the 17th Century and became the political and cultural centre for much of this part of northern Japan.
Also known as "ice trees", Zao Onsen's most famous attraction - the "snow monsters" - are trees that become coated in snow and ice during the winter months.