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Samurai Homes and Snow Monsters: See Them with the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku Area)


With JR EAST PASS (Tohoku Area), you can travel with ease across the Tohoku region’s Aomori, Akita, and Yamagata prefectures. Use this pass on any five days within a period of 14 days. For example, for a pass valid from October 1 to October 14, you can use the pass to travel on the 1st, 6th, 8th, 13th, and 14th of October. 

Where to go? Here are three recommendations: 
When in Aomori: Hirosaki Castle is one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in Tohoku. It is a three-story castle tower and its spacious surroundings are filled with 2,500 cherry trees, cherry blossom tunnels, petal-filled moats, picnic areas, and rental rowing boats in spring, which makes it a major venue for cherry blossom viewing from April to May every year. Although the castle’s stone wall has been under renovation since 2013 and is set for completion sometime in 2023, you still get a chance to see how Japanese castles are rejuvenated.


Around 2,500 cherry blossom trees can be found in Hirosaki Castle’s grounds.


When in Akita: Kakunodate Samurai District—featuring former samurai residences that hold hundreds of years of legacy—is known for its weeping cherry blossoms in spring. Come autumn, the fall foliage with bright colors decorates the symbolic black fences of the area. There are six samurai houses that are open to the public, while the rest are closed to visitors. However, you can still take a stroll around the area and enjoy the autumn leaves around the estate.


Fiery fall foliage decorates the entrance of Kakunodate Samurai District.


When in Yamagata: Have a spooky snow experience only at Zao Onsen Ski Resort! The famous "snow monsters" usually occur when water droplets in the air blown by strong winds freeze on the leaves and branches of pine trees. These formations are usually seen near the peak of Zao Ski Resort, from the end of December to the end of February. Be sure to catch the Zao Snow Monster Festival held usually on the first weekend of February when you can see snow monsters right before your eyes!


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There’s nothing like the surreal sight of snow monsters on Zao Onsen Ski Resort.


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