While most of Japan experiences a fairly intense winter, the biting cold and heavy snow of northern Tohoku in winter is an entirely different beast!

From Aomori’s frozen waterfalls to the giant icicles in Akita, winter scenery like this only occurs in the coldest of places. While often difficult to bear, witnessing these surreal natural phenomena at their peak is worth braving the chill!

A coastline smothered by snow, charming temples on a frozen mountainside, and some enchanting wintery Ghibli-vibes – we’ll let you in on 10 of Tohoku’s best-kept winter sightseeing secrets!

1. Oirase Gorge – Waterfalls Frozen in Time! (Aomori)

Flowing 14 kilometers through the thick wilderness of Aomori’s Towada region, Oirase Gorge is a dynamic mountain stream of powerful rapids boasting 14 waterfalls!

During winter, the surrounding boulders and trees are engulfed by thick snowfall, creating a spectacular frozen landscape that looks like a painting!

The cold is so powerful that, between mid-January and early March, many of the small waterfalls and streams will freeze in place, making it appear as if time itself has escaped for the winter.

Regular bus service is suspended between mid-November and February, so visitors will need to book a special JR ‘Fuyu no Oirase-go’ bus from Hachinohe Station.

Hiking is also prohibited during winter, so the scenery must be viewed from either the highway or during a special tour.
Of course, who wouldn’t want to see these frozen waterfalls up close!

To make the most of your journey, book your comprehensive Oirase Gorge tour here!

Book Now: Oirase Gorge Winter Bus Tour

Oirase River
Oirase Keiryu building, Towada-shi, Aomori larger section of a village Okuse character Tochikubo 183
Shichinohe-towada
0176-74-1233

2. Geibikei – Breathtaking Winter Scenery from a Heated Boat! (Iwate)

While seemingly in the middle of the deep wilderness, Geibikei, in Iwate’s Ichinoseki City, is actually just a convenient 5-minute walk from JR Geibikei Station!

The most famous sight here is the legendary Satetsu River, which is encased for 2 kilometers on both sides by enormous 100-meter-high cliffs.

To allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in this grandeur, boat tours through the river run frequently! These boats are skillfully maneuvered using only a single paddle by a master rower.

From December to March, when winter comes and the area is dyed black and white, special boats with roofs and kotatsu heaters (Dec. to Feb.) make a welcome appearance, allowing passengers to behold the magnificent scene in toasty-warm comfort!

・Hours: 8:30am – 3:00pm (May change depending on season)
・Admission: (Boat Ride Return Ticket)
– Adults: 1,800 yen
– Children: 900 yen
・Closed: Open daily (Barring poor weather)

Geibi Gorge
467 Nagasaka-cho, Higashiyama-cho, Ichinoseki-shi, Iwate
Geibikei
0191-47-2341

3. Jodogahama Beach – Blue Water and White Snow! (Iwate)

Jodogahama Beach, one of …

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