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Aomori Travel Guide Natural Wonders in the North of Japan

Natural highlights abound in Aomori. Located at the northern tip of Japan’s largest island Honshu, in a region called Tohoku, the prefecture is only a 3,5-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. On a golfing trip to Aomori, you can admire forests of cherry blossoms in spring. The long coastline is perfect for a beach vacation in summer. During autumn, the heavily wooded region shines bright with red, orange, and golden foliage. And large mountains of snow invite winter sports enthusiasts during the cold season. Aomori’s northern location means that summers are especially pleasant, great for golfing or hiking.

Photo: Hirosaki Sakura Festival by Shinya ICHINOHE

Things to do

Aomori prefecture offers activities for all kinds of travelers. Nature lovers and the culturally interested will find as much to do as active types. All across this mountainous prefecture you will find ski resorts with beautiful powder snow. They also offer hiking opportunities during the summer months.

The remote Shimokita Hanto Peninsula in the north is home to “Osorezan”, Mount Fear, one of Japan’s three most sacred places. It was named for the fascinating landscape surrounding it, which is rocky and a bit eerie. Down south, Lake Towada is the largest crater lake on the island and is worth a visit for its breathtaking views. The Jogakura area just south of Aomori city, the prefecture’s capital, is known for its hot springs and is a popular spot for a couple of days of relaxation.

Glimpse into times past in Hirosaki city in western Aomori. During samurai-era Japan, this former regional capital was a bustling castle town and a cultural as well as political center. The castle and several samurai residences remain and are open for visitors. Lots of buildings from the late western-influenced 19th century give the town a nostalgic look.

A highlight of Aomori city is the Aomori Museum of Art. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, the art collection inside is exquisite. Besides famous international artists like Picasso and Matisse, works by numerous Japanese artists are exhibited here. Another museum not to be missed in Aomori is the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse. The Nebuta Festival, where large illuminated parade floats roam the city, takes place in Aomori every year in August. But you can view the colorful and artistic floats all year round at this museum.

Photo: Jogakura Bridge By かがみ~ 

Flavors of Aomori

Since Aomori is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, it is only natural that the prefecture’s most famous foods are seafood dishes. At the very tip of the Shimokita Hanto peninsula, Oma is a town renowned across Japan for its maguro tuna. Fresh maguro sashimi made from first-grade fatty tuna is a real delicacy here. Another Aomori favorite from the Hachinohe region in the east is Ichigoni. Locally caught sea urchin and abalone are served in a hearty broth and especially enjoyed in winter. But don’t worry if you don’t like seafood. Aomori also produces lots of vegetables, all combined in the soul food dish Sembei-Jiru. What’s special about this soup are the soaked pieces of sembei, simple rice or wheat crackers, which give it texture and volume.

 Photo: せんべい汁 by Jun OHWADA

Events & Seasonal Happenings

Two main seasonal events in Aomori prefecture are a true feast for the eyes. From late April until early May, the cherry blossoms of Hirosaki turn the town into a spectacular landscape. At Hirosaki Park surrounding the 17th century castle, the Hirosaki Sakura Festival invites visitors to bask in the beauty of this spring spectacle.

The biggest festival of the Tohoku area is the Aomori Nebuta Festival in early August. In the evening, huge illuminated floats built from washi paper and bamboo parade through the city. This explosion of shapes and colors is a must-see. The lantern floats embody warriors, demons, dragons and other animals. During the day, you can have a chat with the float builders. Watch traditional dances, and enjoy Japanese street food.

Photo: ねぶたの家 ワ・ラッセ by かがみ~

What to bring back

Aomori is famous for its delicious apples. They are a treat on their own, but the best souvenirs are the cider and sweets made from Aomori-grown apples. At A-Factory located a short walk from Aomori station, you will find an entire market dedicated to products made from Aomori produce. It houses the cider factory, which is open to visitors and even offers tastings. Take home a bottle of Aomori Cidre and let your friends and family taste the sweetness of Aomori.

Photo: The Apple Store by C.K. Tse

Where to stay

Make your stay in Aomori extra special with a stay at the Hakkoda Hotel. Amidst lush nature, this log house offers comfortable suites with a tasteful country-home flair. The resort hotel features a hot spring bath with large windows that let you take in the surrounding woods while you soak away any travel fatigue or sore muscles from a day on the green.

While visiting the castle town of Hirosaki, spend the night at the Art Hotel Hirosaki. The hotel’s sleek design carries all the way into the concept guest rooms. The hotel’s restaurant offers exquisite dining. Relax in the tea lounge with a hot beverage and homemade sweets in the afternoon. A drink at the hotel bar is the perfect end to a day of exploring. 

Wrap up

Though not widely famous outside of Japan, Aomori is a great place for your favorite kind of golfing vacation. The prefecture offers a variety of activities suitable for couples, families, and solo travelers. Discover traditional Japan, carve through powder snow, bathe in the beauty of nature, and enjoy city life - all possible in Aomori!

Photo: 八甲田丸 by Yuichi Kosio

Getting There

Getting there:

3,5 hours by Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo, 6 hours by Sanyo-Tokaido & Tohoku Shinkansen from Osaka. Flights from Tokyo take about one hour, from Osaka 1,5 hours.


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