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Regions Recommended for Foreign Visitors on Their Second Visit to Japan (Part 1)

During my tenure at Rakuten, I have provided tours of Japan for many foreign tech partner companies. Typically, first-time visitors head to famous tourist spots such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, where both domestic and international tourists flock in large numbers. While these areas certainly offer a full Japanese experience, I hope that on their next visit, they will explore different regions with unique charms and enjoy a variety of experiences unique to Japan. This time, I want to introduce areas that are a bit off the beaten path, which I recommend our overseas tech partners to visit!

1. Hokkaido & Tohoku

First off, Hokkaido, located at the northernmost tip of Japan, is far from the main island where Tokyo and Osaka are situated. In terms of food, you can enjoy truly fresh seafood and dishes that you can’t find in the major cities of the main island. Sushi and seafood bowls are a must-try here! I believe that sushi lovers from abroad will be so impressed that they might wonder, “What was I eating in my country before?!” Therefore, I want them to experience the taste of sushi prepared by Japanese sushi chefs in Hokkaido, using the freshest ingredients and delicious rice!

はこだて鮨金 総本店

北のどんぶり屋 滝波食堂

Additionally, Hokkaido boasts vast natural landscapes, including the famous lavender fields of Furano. A drive across Hokkaido is highly recommended. If you’re looking to enjoy clean air and overwhelming natural beauty, including skiing, then Hokkaido would be an excellent choice.

北海道 富良野・美瑛エリア

Next, the Tohoku region is accessible from Tokyo via the Tohoku Shinkansen and is located in the north. It consists of six prefectures: Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima, each with its unique characteristics. Therefore, I recommend checking the best season to visit each prefecture. For example, Aomori is Japan’s most famous apple-producing area. You can enjoy various dishes and sweets made with apples. In particular, apple pies and apple juice are probably so delicious that they’ll impress you, making the cold winter season, when apples are in season, a great time to visit.

りんごの街のアップルパイ | 青森のうまいものたち


Aomori’s natural beauty is also breathtaking, especially the winter cherry blossom light-up at Hirosaki Park, which is indescribably beautiful. Many of my friends from overseas want to see the cherry blossoms, so if you’re going to appreciate them, it’s best to visit one of Japan’s most renowned cherry blossom spots like Hirosaki Park. In autumn, the foliage is beautiful, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of each season.


Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima each have their unique attractions, so I encourage you to research and experience the diverse charms each season has to offer during your tour of Tohoku! In the next digression, I’d like to introduce Japan’s southernmost paradise: Okinawa.

Masaki “Mark” Iino
Founder & CEO