Beaming with pure magnificence, tasty meals, welcoming locals, and historic websites, Aomori has just a little one thing for everybody — there are quite a few issues to do in Aomori to maintain you busy.
Situated on the northern tip of the primary Honshu Island in Japan, the Aomori prefecture stunned and delighted us at each flip, and left us wanting extra.
With straightforward transport choices from the capital metropolis of Tokyo and comparatively untouched nature, it’s straightforward to see why Lonely Planet listed the Tohoku area as certainly one of their “Finest In Journey” locations.
The Tohoku area is comprised of 6 prefectures (that are just like states or provinces): Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Yamagata. However, the capital metropolis of the Aomori prefecture can be known as Aomori. It’s just a little bit complicated!
On this put up, I’ll checklist the highest issues to do in Aomori, plus particulars on getting across the prefecture, what to anticipate, the place to remain and extra.
An Introduction to Aomori
Throughout our current journey to Japan, we visited the Tohoku area and loved the prefectures of Aomori and Akita. It was only a teaser of what this lovely a part of the nation has to supply.
Tohoku is thought for its unimaginable pure magnificence and welcoming locals, however on high of these issues, Aomori, particularly, can be well-known for its tasty meals.
It’s the largest producer of apples within the nation (you’ve most likely heard of Fuji apples?), has an abundance of seafood on provide (scallops and inexpensive sushi), and as a result of chilly winters, some hearty, consolation meals are served right here as nicely (strive the meat bara-yaki, and the vegetable soup kenoshiru).
With volcanoes, mountains, lakes, sizzling springs, historic websites, parks, and meals…Aomori actually is a hidden gem in Japan.
Our First Impressions of Aomori
From Tokyo Station, we hopped on the Shinkansen bullet practice certain for Shin-Aomori station. The trains in Japan are dependable, environment friendly, clear…and silent.
Speaking loudly on a practice is an enormous no-no in Japan, so we sat quietly shifting our gaze between our laptops and the beautiful views outdoors.
With a 3-hour and 10-minute journey forward of us, we knew we may get just a little work performed, but it surely was arduous with the beautiful Japanese countryside zipping previous our peripheral outdoors.
Not solely are the trains snug, however they’ve plug-ins, free wifi, bogs and an attendant that comes round providing drinks and snacks.
We arrived at our lodge round 4:00 pm, and between that point and once we went to mattress, we had so many great encounters with the folks of Aomori Metropolis.
One man invited us to look at a rugby match on TV with him and his mates, one other stopped us on the street to speak about what we had been doing in Aomori (and to follow his English), and one other simply wished us a pleasant journey.
After assembly some type folks, and devouring a few of the freshest, most scrumptious and most inexpensive sushi we’ve had in Japan (at Asuka Sushi Bar), it was time to name it an evening. Our first impressions of this area of Japan had been very constructive and we couldn’t wait to discover extra.
12 Finest Issues To Do in Aomori Prefecture
Throughout our earlier visits to Japan, we hung out in Kyoto, Tokyo and Takayama. However, there are such a lot of extra issues to see and do in Japan and this time round, we had been trying ahead to exploring the pure fantastic thing about the nation — which Tohoku has in spades.
There are a couple of important areas which can be of curiosity to vacationers on this prefecture — Hirosaki, Aomori Metropolis, Towada Hachimantai Nationwide Park, and Fukaura.
Most of the issues to do in Aomori are centered across the beautiful Towada Hachimantai Nationwide Park, which spans 862 sq. km (333 sq. miles). Should you’re questioning what to do in Aomori, take a look at my checklist of the highest issues to do within the Aomori prefecture, primarily based on my firsthand expertise.
1. Canoeing on Lake Towada
A spotlight of our whole journey to the area was the hours spent canoeing on the crystal-clear Towada Lake. This crater lake spans between the prefectures of Akita and Aomori, and has a surprisingly undeveloped shoreline.
After a fast security briefing and demonstration from the canoe information (Ota-san) at Towadako Guidehouse, we had been able to hit the lake. We’ve performed numerous kayaking previously, however surprisingly, neither of us had correctly canoed earlier than!
Discovering our stability on the boat was straightforward and earlier than we knew it we had been gliding throughout the calm, crystal-clear water. This was such a peaceable expertise and we loved paddling alongside the colorful autumn leaves and rocky shoreline.
Lake Towada may be loved year-round, however public transport solely operates from April – November. To get right here from Aomori Metropolis, take a bus to Yasumiya, which is the primary transport hub of Lake Towada.
When you have a JR Rail Move, the bus is included with that cross. To study extra about canoeing on the lake with the corporate we paddled with, click on right here, and for extra info on the best way to get from Aomori to Lake Towada, click on right here.
2. Discover the Oirase Gorge
Flowing from Lake Towada is the Oirase Stream. Working alongside this stream is a 14-kilometer nature path. This has been listed in lots of articles as probably the greatest issues to do in Aomori, however for us, although it was fairly, it wasn’t a serious spotlight.
Right here’s the explanation: it runs alongside a highway.
On one aspect, you’ve got a fantastic stream, some small waterfalls, and a lush forest. However, on the opposite aspect of the path, simply steps away, is the highway.
I’m positive that it’s not at all times this busy, however once we visited, it was an extended weekend and lots of locals had been right here having fun with their break day — which meant numerous foot visitors, and autos passing by.
No matter how busy it was, we gave the impression to be the one ones who minded! And, we nonetheless loved the contemporary, humid air, the Kumoinotaki waterfall, and watching the native artists portray and photographing their lovely yard.
To get right here, take the identical bus that you’d take to Lake Towada. Beginning in Aomori, it passes by the Oirase Stream earlier than terminating on the lake. Click on right here for particulars on the bus route — once more, this bus is included along with your JR Rail Move.
3. Go to the Jogakura Bridge
The 122m excessive Jogakura Bridge is a fantastic viewpoint! This bridge connects two areas of the Aomori prefecture (Tsugaru and Nambu) and was inbuilt 1995 to make crossing the Jogakura River simpler.
Once we visited, folks had been parking at both finish of the bridge and strolling the size to take photographs from completely different angles. Whereas it’s not someplace you’d seemingly go and see only for photographs, it’s an important cease in between locations.
The Jogakura Bridge affords a tremendous view of the autumn colors within the fall and snowy bushes in winter.
4. Eat All The Apples (All over the place)
Since Aomori is thought for its apple manufacturing, it’s no shock that consuming something and every part to do with apples is a should. At just about each restaurant, you’ll discover some kind of apple-inspired dish.
We stayed on the aptly named Apple Land Lodge, which had a fantastic ryokan-style room and apples floating within the onsite onsen. There was an apple orchard within the yard and an enormous restaurant with improbable meals that includes (you guessed it) apples!
Apple desserts, apple curry, apple sauces, apple sake and apple beer had been simply a few of the gadgets on provide and it was all very tasty.
One other excellent place to pattern some apple delights is on the French restaurant in Hirosaki, Chez Moi. Right here, we dined on a 5-course lunch of cod, beef cheek, soup, and dessert — with apples infused into each dish. Should you’re a foodie, you received’t wish to miss this spot.
Need extra apple motion? You’ll be able to really choose apples at one of many many orchards in Aomori. Click on right here to study extra about that.
5. Discover Shirakami-Sanchi Forest (Fukaura)
The pristine Shirakami-Sanchi forest space is definitely a World Heritage Web site.
Spanning 130,000 hectares (321,000 acres) throughout the southwestern a part of the Aomori prefecture and the northwestern a part of the Akita prefecture, this lovely place is a superb spot to do some mountaineering round lakes whereas having fun with East Asia’s largest virgin beech forest.
There are quite a few trails to discover right here, plus 33 lakes. “Juniko” interprets to “twelve”, so it’s unusual that an space with 33 lakes and ponds is definitely known as Juniko, however who’s counting?
We spent a few hours mountaineering round right here and loved the crimson, orange, and yellow leaves reflecting off of the numerous lakes. That is someplace you possibly can spend a complete day absorbing the pure magnificence. Click on right here for an important (English) map of the world. From Fukaura, it’s a 35-minute direct practice journey to Juniko Station.
6. Hirosaki Park (Hirosaki Metropolis)
Situated within the metropolis with the identical identify, this massive park is a pleasant spot to wander round.
That is thought-about one of many high spots to view the cherry blossoms within the springtime (there are 2,600 bushes planted right here), and within the fall, you may benefit from the autumn leaves.
Not solely are the bushes a spotlight right here, however all the park is surrounded by a moat with small crimson bridges crossing the water, and historic gates.
The true spotlight of Hirosaki Park is the 400-year-old citadel — which is the final remaining one from the Edo Interval within the Tohoku area.
Once we visited, the citadel had moved. That’s proper, all the citadel itself was picked up in a single piece, and moved 70m!
Apparently, the bottom was changing into weak, and in an effort to protect it, the citadel was slowly moved to the aspect for the construction to be repaired. It’ll take round 10 years to fully restore the bottom and it’s anticipated to be moved again to its unique place in 2026.
Additionally, don’t miss the view of the Iwake Volcano from the park.
Hirosaki Park is open from 9:00am to five:00pm, and whereas it doesn’t value something to enter the primary space of the park, if you wish to see the citadel, you’ll have to pay 320 yen ($2.95).
You can too buy a ticket that grants you entrance to the citadel, botanical backyard and memorial backyard for 520 yen ($4.75). From Aomori Metropolis station, it’s round a 1-hour practice journey to Hirosaki Station. From there, it’s a 25-minute stroll to the park, or you may take a taxi.
7. Go to a Shinto Shrine
We’ve seen a couple of Shinto shrines round Japan, and right here in Aomori prefecture, we visited the 1,200-year-old Iwakiyama Shrine and loved the view of Mount Iwaki volcano within the background.
You’ll know you’re at a Shinto shrine primarily based on the Torii Gates on the entrance.
As with every non secular constructing (church, mosque, temple, and so on.) there are do’s and don’ts in relation to visiting and praying at one, however there’s no have to stress and it is best to positively go to one throughout your journey. Take into account that as a vacationer/visitor, you received’t be anticipated to know all of those guidelines.
- The primary factor to bear in mind when getting into a Shinto shrine is to bow earlier than getting into the torii gates and stroll on both the left or right-hand aspect of the gates, as the middle is reserved for the gods.
- Earlier than going into the primary shrine, ensure to purify your self with the water out entrance.
- Utilizing the ladle, pour water over your left hand, adopted by your proper hand, and put some water into your hand to rinse out your mouth (however, don’t swallow the water).
- Take away your sneakers the place indicators instruct.
- When you’re on the shrine, put a coin into the donation field for the deity.
- Following that, clap your arms two instances, say your prayer, clap two extra instances, and bow.
Shintoism is a perception within the ancestors, nature and sacred powers. This religion originated in Japan within the eighth century and is as previous because the tradition itself. Shintoism has no scripture, books or propaganda and alongside Buddhism, it’s one of many high two beliefs in Japan.
Iwakiyama is among the most necessary religious websites in Aomori, so it’s an important place to expertise this tradition firsthand.
To go to the Iwakiyama Shrine from Hirosaki, take the Konan bus certain for Karekitai from the Konan bus station, which is in entrance of the Hirosaki Practice Station. It’s a couple of 40-minute bus journey. Alternatively, you may go on a tour, rent a driver, or hire your individual automobile.
There’s a hike you are able to do from the Iwakiyama shrine to the summit of Mt. Iwaki. This hike takes round 4 hours and if we had extra time, we’d’ve liked to trek that route. Study extra right here.
8. Strolling Tour of Aomori
A good way to study in regards to the metropolis of Aomori is with a licensed, English-speaking information. On this personal tour, you’ll go to a couple of of the primary highlights of town together with Wa Rasse Arts and Cultural Heart, and the Sannai-Maruyama archaeological website.
However, the beauty of this journey is that it’s customizable. You’ll see these two websites above after which with assist out of your native information, you get to resolve what you wish to see and do within the metropolis. Study extra and guide your spot right here.
Extra Issues To Do in Aomori
Throughout our go to, the Hakkoda Ropeway (gondola) was below restore and sadly we weren’t in a position to journey it. However, this is among the hottest issues to do within the space, particularly within the fall when you may take pleasure in a tremendous vantage level of the mountains coated in fall colors.
Within the Aomori prefecture alone, there are 15 ski resorts. For sure, snowboarding is a well-liked winter exercise right here. To study extra in regards to the quite a few ski resorts within the space, click on right here.
The highway between the Hakkoda Lodge and Sukayu Onsen is closed throughout the winter however reopens on April 1st every year. With excessive snowbanks on both aspect, strolling and driving by this 10-meter-high snowy hall could be a reasonably wonderful sight — try the cherry blossoms someday, and the snow wall the subsequent!
For seafood lovers, don’t miss the Furukawa fish market (Aomori Gyosai Heart) in Aomori Metropolis. Right here you may create your individual seafood rice bowl, known as nokkedon. Fill your bowl with rice and high it along with your alternative of seafood — crab, squid, fish, scallops and extra.
Getting To and From Aomori Prefecture
There are a couple of methods to get to Aomori. Listed here are the perfect modes of transportation.
From Tokyo, you may fly with Japan Airways to Aomori. The flight is about 1 hour and quarter-hour and prices round $150 USD.
From Tokyo, you may take the Shinkansen bullet practice (which is what I like to recommend). This manner, you get to benefit from the surroundings alongside the best way.
We travelled from Tokyo Station to Shin Aomori on the Shinkansen Hayabusa practice (utilizing our JR Rail Move). This journey was round 3 hours and 20 minutes lengthy.
As soon as we arrived at Shin Aomori, we merely disembarked, walked down some stairs and located the native practice line. It was a couple of 5-minute practice journey on the JR Categorical Tsugaru from Shin Aomori station to Aomori.
Practice stations in Japan is usually a bit overwhelming. My largest suggestion is to offer your self lots of time on journey days. Arrive on the bigger stations with loads of time so that you’re not feeling rushed or stressed.
By no means be afraid to ask the attendants which gate try to be at, and the best way to get there. There are many them at the entire bigger stations, they communicate sufficient English and are greater than prepared that can assist you out.
Throughout our journey to Tohoku, we stored saying that having our personal rental automobile would’ve been one of the simplest ways to see the entire pure websites of Aomori.
You can do it by public transport, however having your individual wheels will mean you can cease in any respect the wonderful viewpoints, and discover your individual quiet place for a picnic or a hike.
I don’t advocate hiring a automobile for all the length of your journey to Japan (as it may be expensive and public transport is so environment friendly), however perhaps only for a day journey to the lakes or mountains within the space.
When to Go to Aomori
One of many nice issues about travelling to Japan is that it’s a vacation spot that may be loved year-round. Aomori is not any exception.
Every season within the prefecture affords one thing completely different, so plan your journey across the actions you wish to do and the kind of climate you need.
To witness the beautiful cherry blossoms, you’ll wish to go to on the finish of April. Hirosaki Park is among the high spots in the entire nation to see the blossoms, so count on crowds, however some unimaginable picture alternatives as nicely.
For individuals who wish to hit the slopes, December – March is while you’ll wish to go to. Take into account that Aomori is among the snowiest cities in all the world — receiving round 20 toes of snow!
The prefecture transforms right into a winter wonderland with folks soaking further lengthy within the steamy onsens and partaking in festivals (time your journey for the Lake Towada Winter Story and the Hachinohe Emburi, each of that are held in February).
For each the cherry blossom season and the ski season, ensure to order your lodging prematurely as a result of these are peak months.
If you wish to swim in Towada Lake, do some strolling alongside the Tanasashi coast, expertise the well-known Nebuta Matsuri lantern competition, and luxuriate in a high temperature, go to Aomori in the summertime months (August for the competition).
For a cooler, snug temperature and to witness the autumn leaves altering color, go to Aomori in October/November. The leaves may be seen from many components of the prefecture, however the Towada-Hachimantai Nationwide Park and the Hakkoda Ropeway are nice locations to benefit from the view.
Closing Ideas On Visiting Aomori
Previous to planning our journey to Aomori, we hadn’t even heard of the area of Tohoku, not to mention the Aomori prefecture.
Most individuals have heard of the favored spots in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and so on.), however if you wish to escape the crowds and luxuriate in a extra offtrack a part of Japan, don’t miss this Northeast area of the nation.
We had been right here on a fast go to to simply get a really feel for the prefecture — and although it was a quick journey, we had an important expertise! Resulting from all of the wonderful mountaineering and nature alternatives, we may’ve spent about 10 days – 2 weeks right here and loved a extra relaxed journey tempo.
While you’re planning your subsequent journey to Japan, take into account Tohoku. With easy accessibility from the capital, tasty meals and fewer vacationers, it’s an space of the nation you received’t wish to miss.
We had been invited by the Tohoku Tourism Board to discover the area and share our findings with you, our readers. That is an space of Japan we’d fortunately return to and would like to spend extra time right here. As with all promotional campaigns on Goats On The Street, all ideas, critiques and opinions stay our personal — regardless of any complimentary companies acquired.