Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Visit Tohoku Japan seminar: the Four Seasons and Driving

I was invited back to the Japan Rail Cafe last Saturday (17th Dec) to learn more about Tohoku region and car rental! This time the speaker is a very well-travelled lady, Jane Tsuchihashi, from Malaysia but married to a Japanese. She travels frequently between Singapore and Japan, and often drives around herself, so she is very knowledgeable about Tohoku and driving routes.

Tohoku literally means North-east and it consists of 6 prefectures: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata and Fukushima. Niigata is commonly regarded as part of Chubu (Central region) but is closely linked to Tohoku transportation system. For my full introduction of Tohoku, you can read my earlier blog post here.

JR TOMATO LAND Live Tour (sponsored by Norinchukin Bank)
The seminar started off with an introduction of JR Tomatoland at Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture. We connected with them via live video to watch how they pick tomatoes. Unlike other farms, you can just drop in anytime to pick tomatoes yourself!

They have a buffet style restaurant with dishes made from over 10 types of tomatoes, including pizza and curry. They also have tomato short cakes and tomato ice-cream, which is their most popular item!

We were given a sample of their fresh tomatoes and the green one tasted amazingly sweet and crunchy!!! The tomato juice was also remarkably sweet and it was like drinking ketchup... 😅

If you are a tomato lover, you definitely need to go there. If you understand Japanese, you can visit their  JR Tomatoland Official home page.

The 4 seasons of Tohoku
Because Tohoku is located northwards of Tokyo, Spring and Autumn comes earlier than Tokyo. Cherry blossoms are expected to bloom from early April to early May and the best time to see is during early to mid April. For red fall foliage, it is is said to be most beautiful from late October to early November.

Ski can be enjoyed from December till May and there are many ski resorts to choose from!

Tohoku region is well known for its mountains formed by volcanic activity such as Zao Okama Crater lake.

At Akita Tamagawa Hot Spring, you can also do a bedrock bath that helps to stimulate blood circulation in your body. Just remember to bring a towel to lie on.
(The above photos were used with permission from Jane)

Toyota Rent A Car at Sendai
After Jane's sharing session, Manabu Takahashi from Japan Tohoku Tourism Support Desk Singapore, connected us to Toyota Rent A Car shop at Sendai to demonstrate how easy it is for foreigners to rent a car in Japan.

Even if their staff can't understand you, they will pass you an ipad with many different languages to choose from and you can begin choosing your car!

They even have the Gundam Toyota car for you to rent too!

Every car comes with a GPS system and you will get a guidebook with map codes that you can key in to bring you directly to the attraction. For more information about Toyota car rental, you can visit their home page: https://rent.toyota.co.jp/eng/

There is also a Tohoku Expressway Pass for foreigners from 2-14 days so you don't need to worry about different toll charges along the way. As for petrol, Jane spent only $100 for 10 days!

Tohoku Information at Japan Rail Cafe
You can get tons of informative booklets and pamphlets from Japan Rail cafe to plan your trip! The cafe is located at the first floor of Tanjong Pagar Centre, right above Tanjong Pagar mrt.

There is an event every month in Tohoku so be sure to check them out! 😀
I hope my summary has been useful in helping you plan your next trip to Japan!

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