Introducing the Tohoku Region’s “Must-Visit” Events in February through March!

Written by Editorial department
6 Feb 2017
Last update :

If you’re traveling in or to Japan during the winter, why not visit places where you can enjoy the snow?

The areas in Japan that accumulate extensive amount of snow are the Tohoku Region and Hokkaido, located further north from Tokyo.

Tohoku Region map

These areas are home to various events that are offered exclusively in winter.
This time, we will be introducing two recommended events in the Tohoku region that will begin in February. The event sites can be reached by Shinkansen from Tokyo. Though they are not the most easily accessible areas, the events are worth the effort!

1) Lake Towada Winter Story Festival (Event Held around Aomori Prefecture’s Lake Towada)

Lake Towada boasts an impressive shoreline of 46.2 kilometers and is located on the border between Aomori Prefecture and Akita Prefecture.From spring through autumn (late April through early November), visitors can take in the natural beauty of the area’s trees and rock formations from sightseeing boats. The best part of these boat cruises is taking in the powerful view of the cliffs towering above you!

Lake Towada
Lake Towada

Every year in February, Lake Towada hosts an event called “Lake Towada Winter Story.” At nights during the event, fireworks and snow lamps illuminate the lakeside creating magical atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy local entertainment and food, and taste Japanese sake in a kamakura (snow hut).

Lake Towada Winter Story
Lake Towada Winter Story

Lake Towada Winter Story

Event Period
February 3rd (Fri) through February 26th (Sun) in 2017
Event Hours
Weekdays 15:00-21:00. Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays 11:00-21:00
Lake Towada Yasumiya Area, Towada City (Lake Towada Yasumiya Area, Special Event site)
Access from Tokyo
1) Take Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Shichinohe-Towada Station (about 3 hours)
2) Leave Shichinohe-Towada Station and travel to the site by either a rental car or a bus (about 2 hours)

2) Zao Ice Monster Festival (Event Held at Yamagata Prefecture’s Zao Onsen Ski Resort)

“Zao Onsen Ski Resort” is the largest snow resort in the Tohoku region, boasting 14 slopes.

Zao Onsen Ski Resort
Zao Onsen Ski Resort

Of course, you can enjoy skiing here, but the “must see” attraction in this season is the area’s “Juhyo”; frost-covered trees often referred to as “snow monsters.” Juhyo are formations of ice and snow covering trees in hard coating. This is one of a few spots in the world where this natural phenomenon can be observed.

Zao Ice Monster Festival
Zao Ice Monster Festival

Also, every year from late December to early March the area hosts the “Zao Ice Monster Festival,” in which frozen trees get illuminated at night.

The “Zao Ice Monster Festival” at night
The “Zao Ice Monster Festival” at night

There are lodgings with hot spring accessible from the ski resort, so you may want to spend some time choosing your favorite inn.

Zao Ice Monster Festival

Event Period
Through March 5th (Sun) in 2017
Event Hours
709-1 Zao Onsen, Yamagata City (In Zao Onsen Ski Resort)
Access from Tokyo
1) Take Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Yamagata Station (about 2.5 hours)
2) Leave Yamagata Station and travel to the site by a bus (about 40 minutes)

So, in this article, we talked about two winter events in the Tohoku region held in February and March. Lastly, we would like to introduce the “JR EAST PASS (Tohoku Area),” which can save you big on Shinkansen fares when traveling to and from these areas.

JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area)

The “JR EAST PASS (Tohoku Area)” is the best option available for people traveling from Tokyo to areas like Sendai and Aomori in the Tohoku Region. This pass grants you unlimited access to local trains and even the Shinkansen within the designated areas. The pass is valid for your choice of 5 days out of the 14-day period that begins after purchase (the 5 days do not need to be successive). If you purchase the pass outside of Japan, the validity period begins after trading in an exchange order for a pass itself. For a pass bought outside of Japan, its price is 19,000 yen for an adult and 9,500 yen for a child. On the contrary, if purchased in Japan, the price is 20,000 yen for an adult and 10,000 yen for a child. If you were to travel from Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori Station and back by Shinkansen, the round trip would cost 32,660 yen (adult fare), making the pass a savings of around 13,000 yen for that trip alone (using normal-season adult reserved seats on Hayabusa).

Details of the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area)

Period of Use
Usable year-round
Period of Validity
Any 5 days out of the 14-day period after a date of issue (flexible 5-day pass)
*Date of issue refers to a pick-up date for passes purchased overseas and a date of purchase for passes purchased in Japan.
Prices outside of Japan is 19,000 yen for an adult (12 and older) and 9,500 yen for a child (6-11). Prices in Japan is 20,000 yen for an adult and 10,000 yen for a child.
Valid For
Unlimited travel within the designated areas in reserved seats on ordinary cars of limited express (including Shinkansen), express, and local trains operated by the East Japan Railway Company.
Conditions of Purchase and Use
The JR EAST PASS is available for purchase by holders of non-Japanese passports with “temporary visitor” visa status and plan to stay in Japan for no longer than 90 days.
*Passport must be presented at time of purchase for confirmation purposes.
Purchase Methods
① Within Japan: Purchase at a location where JR EAST PASS is available.
② Outside of Japan: Purchase an exchange order (e-ticket) from a travel agent or travel company or through the JR EAST website. Then, upon arrival to Japan, trade in the exchange order for your JR EAST PASS at any of the exchange locations.

This short clip below will give you valuable information if you are interested in this great-value JR passes but don’t yet know how to use or purchase them.