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Set in the northernmost Honshu, Japan’s main island, Aomori is known for its mountainous landscape, lush greenery, and wild street festivals. With four distinct seasons, unique events and outdoor activities, there’s no end of attractions to keep travelers busy. We take a look at the most fun and fascinating in the area.
Attracting more visitors than any other nebuta festival in Japan, this epic summer festival runs for six days straight at the beginning of August. Nebuta are enormous paper floats modeled after ancient warriors; the floats are carried through the town surrounded by dancers dressed in traditional uniforms and chanting in the local dialect. Visitors are not only welcome but encouraged to dive in and participate in the festivities.
For travelers who can’t make it to the real Nebuta Matsuri, this is the next best option. The Nebuta Warasse Museum is dedicated entirely to the Nebuta Matsuri, attempting to capture the essence of the legendary festival by giving visitors a taste of the history, customs, and atmosphere of the event. The museum features photos, artefacts, and performances from the festival’s 300-year old history.
Discovered accidentally during the construction of a baseball stadium, excavations have turned up structures, homes, and artefacts from Japan’s Jomon era that are roughly 5,000 years old. The tour, which is available in English as well as Japanese, gives visitors a window into one of the ancient civilizations of Japan.
Located at the summit of Mt. Osore, this holy shrine was built in honor of Jiso Bosatsu, mythical Japanese deity and protector of the youth. Traditionally, people visit the site to mourn the death of a child or to attempt to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Whatever your reason for visiting, the area is considered one of the most peaceful and beautiful locations in Aomori.
Popular among university students and the after-work crowd, this small indoor alleyway is home to several tiny izakaya and restaurants. It’s an ideal spot for travelers in search of cheap eats and a place to get acquainted with the locals.
This narrow alleyway located in the center of Hachinohe city features over 25 food stalls, bars, and izakaya. The stalls have a lively, open atmosphere and offer various types of seafood, grilled meats, and snacks, making it a popular destination for tourists as well as locals. This is a great place for travelers hoping to chat to some of the local residents.
For those looking for a more wholesome way to spend an afternoon, check out the Apple Park in Hirosaki city. Open August to November, customers are free to pick as many apples as they can carry. This is a great choice for families or anyone looking to get outside without breaking the bank (2kg (4.4lbs) of apples will cost you only about US$2.00.)
Travelers who want to Aomori’s scenic mountain views without actually having to hike can take the Hakkoda Ropeway to the top of Tamoyachidake, one of the multiple peaks of Mt. Hakkoda. The best time to visit is during the fall when the leaves change color.
Until the Seikan Tunnel opened in 1988, ferries were the main mode of transportation between Honshu and Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Today, ferries are used sparingly, with most travelers opting for the convenience of the railway tunnel. After completing its final voyage in 1988, the Hakkodamaru ferry was docked at Aomori port and converted into a museum to serve as a reminder of the days before the tunnel was built. The ship is now open to the public and takes visitors on a self-guided tour through the cabins, top deck, and engine room.