Majestic nature and Exciting Festival
The northernmost prefecture on Honshuisland, Aomori is endowed with abundant nature,including the well-known Mt. Hakkoda, Lake Towada, a large dualcrater lake surrounded by beech forest with wild animals, and Oirase Stream, astriking mountain stream with over a dozen waterfalls. Also, theShirakami-Sanchi (Shirakami Mountains), a World Natural Heritage site, isspread across 130,000 hectares on the border between Aomori and Akitaprefectures.
Facing both the JapanSea and the Pacific Ocean, Aomori is blessed withvarious seafood which never fails to draw gourmands. Its most popularattraction is the Nebuta Festival, which brings in about 3 million visitorseach year. For history enthusiasts, the Sannai-Maruyama Ruins – the largestarcheological site of the Jomon Period (about 10,500-300 BC) – is a recommendeddestination.
Thingsto do in Aomori
Enjoy spectacular viewof rich nature
Aomori has a number of tourist spots,including outstanding natural sites such as Mt. Hakkoda and Lake Towada. Roadsfor buses and cars, as well as climbing routes and paths have been improved inrecent years. Mountain cable cars are built so that children and the elderlycan explore them too. However, note that it is a heavy snowfall area and youneed to wear suitable winter clothing.
Experience thetradition through festivals
Nebuta Festivals are celebrated inseveral northern regions, mainly in Aomori prefecture. The Aomori NebutaFestival, which is celebrated annually from August 2-7, is the most recognised.Over 20 gigantic three-dimensional Nebuta (papier-mache dolls) depict ancientwarriors, legendary creatures or Kabuki characters that illuminate the nightwith bright colours. Today, the Nebuta floats are made of a wood base,carefully covered with Japanese paper and lit from the inside with hundreds oflight bulbs. Quite a few spirited dancers (called “haneto”) in nativeNebuta costumes, surround the floats and dance to the tune of flutes andbeating of drums.
For those who missed the Aomori NebutaFestival, there is an exhibition hall, Neputa No Yakata, that displays threefloats all year around in Goshogawara city. Situated 25km west of Aomori city,Goshogawara is another site of the Nebuta Festival – this one is called “Neputa.”It is said that the name came from the local direct “neputai,” whichliterally means “sleepy,” and the festival itself is a”sleepless festival” that prays for safety and a good harvest.
The 3 displayed Neputa, at 22m high andweighing of 16 tons, will be moved for 1.5km around the city from August 4-8.There is also a studio where visitors can see the work in progress and have ahands-on experience. Visit the official website (in Japanese) at www.tachineputa.jp.
In Hirosaki city, a central part ofTsugaru district, crowd-pleasing events include the Hirosaki Neputa Festival(characterised by 60 small and large fan-shaped floats) and Hirosaki CherryBlossom Festival. Throughout the year, there are several flower festivals heldin different cities throughout Aomori.
Where is the mostfamous Onsen in Aomori?
There are a number of onsen (hot springs)with good reputation and high spring quality in Aomori. Koganesaki FurofushiOnsen is one of the most popular and is often featured in magazines and TVprograms. Its name “furofushi” means “immortality” inJapanese. Bathers can see the wild waves of the Japan Sea while soaking intheir outdoor spa, with a view of the distant horizon and a splendid sunset.For more information about the onsen, please visit www.furofushi.com.
Taste the season’sbest
Enjoying local delicacies is amust during your journey. Aomori is known for its abundance and high qualityseafood. Ohma tuna, one of the best grade tunas, is caught at Ohma Port facingthe Tsugaru Strait that connects the Japan Sea with the Pacific Ocean. Thesetunas feed on fresh Pacific sauries, sardines and squids, and are sold almostexclusively to high-end sushi restaurants. Other seafood like squids andscallops caught in adjacent sea are also tasty.
Aomori Prefecture is Japan’s largestapple producer – there are approximately 60 kinds of apple varieties, thanks toits significant difference in temperature and improved cultivation methods,which are shipped seasonally. You can try apple picking in several farms, butthere is a charge.
Aomori Nebuta Festival
Koganesaki Furofushi hot spring