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Zao Onsen

There's a quaint little area in the Yamagata Prefecture called Zao Onsen. It is one of the most famous and traditional skiing & snowboarding resorts in Japan as well as a popular all year traditional onsen hot spring resort village. Depending on the weather, you'll usually find snow monsters (Juhyo) on top of Mount Zao. However a couple of days before I visited, the weather warmed up causing most of the snow monsters to disappear.

 
 
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Yama-dera

Yama-dera (mountain temple) was founded over 1200 years ago and it’s well known for its beautiful trail that leads you to the top of the observatory on top of the mountain. Along the trail there are over 30 temples you can visit. This place is also where the great haiku poet Matsuo Bashō came up with his most famous haiku.

Ah this silence
Sinking into the rocks
Voice of cicada

 
 
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Ginzan Onsen

Ginzan Onsen, a secluded little area in Obanazawa city is literally overrun with hot springs. Most inns in this area have their own outdoor onsens (hot spring). If you’ve seen Spirited Away, some of the scenes were inspired by Ginzan Onsen.

I stayed in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) called Ryokan Ginzanso.

 
 
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Matsushima Oysters

Just like Hiroshima, Matsushima is known for its oysters. Matsushima's oysters however are much bigger than Hiroshima's. We went to this oyster shack called Matsu. The cost was roughly around $25 and with that, you can eat as many oysters as you want for 45 minutes.

 
 
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Mt. Otakamori

Soaking in the views at Mount Otakamori in Miyagi Prefecture.

 
 
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Geibikei Gorge

Geibikei Gorge is considered to be one of the most picturesque spots and is counted among 100 most famous views of Japan. It’s made of cliffs that are as tall as 100m and extend for around 2km on both sides of Satetsu River.

 
 
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Appi Kogen Ski Resort

We spent a good half day traveling from the Miyagi Prefecture all the way up to the Iwate Prefecture in Hachimantai to the Appi Kogen Ski Resort. This ski resort is one of the largest in Japan. Newly renovated, it has hover 20 ski runs and a good sized area for backcountry exploration. Appi Kogen Ski Resort has everything you'll ever need: restaurants, fast food dining hall, outdoor natural onsen, shopping, and accommodation.

 
 
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Mt. Hakkoda

After a good day of backcountry skiing in Appi Kogen Ski Resort, we set out north to the Aomori Prefecture to go snowboarding at Mount Hakkoda. The hotel we stayed at was only 10 minutes from the ski resort - Hotel Jogakura.

The Hakkoda ski resort, although a bit old in its infrastructure, has some serious powder that absolutely every seasoned skier or snowboarder will absolutely love. The mountain is known for its deep and constant snowfall making it prime destionation for avid backcountry skiers.

 
 
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