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Tohoku encompasses the northern part of the main island of Honshu, and is largely mountainous and sparsely populated. The western prefectures of Akita and Yamagata are known as the `rice-basket` of Japan and the source of Japan’s most delicious sake. With relatively short summers, Tohoku is best experienced from May to October. This is also when most festivals are held, such as the Nebuta Festival in Aomori and Tanabata Festival in Sendai.