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12 Greatest Issues To Do in Aomori, Japan in 2023

Beaming with pure magnificence, tasty meals, welcoming locals, and historic websites, Aomori has a little bit 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 one in all their “Greatest In Journey” locations.

The Tohoku area is comprised of 6 prefectures (that are much like states or provinces): Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Yamagata. However, the capital metropolis of the Aomori prefecture can also be referred to as Aomori. It’s a little bit bit complicated!

On this publish, I’ll listing 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 latest journey to Japan, we visited the Tohoku area and loved the prefectures of Aomori and Akita. It was only a teaser of what this stunning a part of the nation has to supply.

The pretty nature surrounding the Oirase Stream
The gorgeous nature surrounding the Oirase Stream

Tohoku is understood for its unimaginable pure magnificence and welcoming locals, however on prime of these issues, Aomori, specifically, can also 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 supply (scallops and inexpensive sushi), and as a result of chilly winters, some hearty, consolation meals are served right here as effectively (strive the meat bara-yaki, and the vegetable soup kenoshiru).

With volcanoes, mountains, lakes, scorching 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 sure 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.

sushi in aomori japan
Our first meal in Aomori was sushi – inexpensive and scrumptious!

With a 3-hour and 10-minute journey forward of us, we knew we might get a little bit work accomplished, but it surely was exhausting with the beautiful Japanese countryside zipping previous our peripheral outdoors.

Not solely are the trains snug, however they’ve plug-ins, free wifi, loos and an attendant that comes round providing drinks and snacks.

We arrived at our lodge round 4:00 pm, and between that point and after 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 associates, one other stopped us on the street to speak about what we had been doing in Aomori (and to apply his English), and one other simply wished us a pleasant journey.

After assembly some sort folks, and devouring among 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 Greatest 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 wanting ahead to exploring the pure great thing about the nation — which Tohoku has in spades.

There are a couple of principal areas which might 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 targeted 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 listing 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 accomplished plenty of kayaking previously, however surprisingly, neither of us had correctly canoed earlier than!

canoeing lake towada aomori
Canoeing on Lake Towada was a lot enjoyable!

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 might 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.

If in case you have a JR Rail Go, the bus is included with that move. To be taught extra about canoeing on the lake with the corporate we paddled with, click on right here, and for extra info on learn how to get from Aomori to Lake Towada, click on right here.

2. Discover the Oirase Gorge

waterfall at oirase in tohoku
There’s simply one thing about waterfalls

Flowing from Lake Towada is the Oirase Stream. Operating 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, despite the fact that it was fairly, it wasn’t a significant spotlight.

Right here’s the rationale: it runs alongside a highway.

On one aspect, you’ve got a phenomenal 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 after we visited, it was an extended weekend and plenty of locals had been right here having fun with their time without work — which meant plenty of foot site visitors, and automobiles passing by.

No matter how busy it was, we gave the impression to be the one ones who minded! And, we nonetheless loved the recent, humid air, the Kumoinotaki waterfall, and watching the native artists portray and photographing their stunning yard.

To get right here, take the identical bus that you’d take to Lake Towada. Beginning in Aomori, it passes via 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 Go.

3. Go to the Jogakura Bridge

View from the Jogakura Bridge, gorgeous during the autumn months
View from the Jogakura Bridge, beautiful in the course of the autumn months

The 122m excessive Jogakura Bridge is a phenomenal viewpoint! This bridge connects two areas of the Aomori prefecture (Tsugaru and Nambu) and was in-built 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 images from completely different angles. Whereas it’s not someplace you’d possible go and see only for images, it’s a terrific cease in between locations.

The Jogakura Bridge provides an incredible view of the autumn colors within the fall and snowy timber in winter.

4. Eat All The Apples (In every single place)

apple orchard aomori
Aomori is understood for its apples

Since Aomori is understood for its apple manufacturing, it’s no shock that consuming something and all the pieces to do with apples is a should. At just about each restaurant, you’ll discover some form of apple-inspired dish.

We stayed on the aptly named Apple Land Resort, which had a phenomenal ryokan-style room and apples floating within the onsite onsen. There was an apple orchard within the yard and an enormous restaurant with implausible meals that includes (you guessed it) apples!

Apple desserts, apple curry, apple sauces, apple sake and apple beer had been simply among the objects on supply and it was all very tasty.

One other great spot 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 need 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 be taught extra about that.

5. Discover Shirakami-Sanchi Forest (Fukaura)

juniko lake aomori
One of many many superb lakes at Juniko

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 stunning place is a good 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 referred to as Juniko, however who’s counting?

We spent a few hours mountaineering round right here and loved the pink, orange, and yellow leaves reflecting off of the various lakes. That is someplace you possibly can spend an entire day absorbing the pure magnificence. Click on right here for a terrific (English) map of the world. From Fukaura, it’s a 35-minute direct practice journey to Juniko Station.

6. Hirosaki Park (Hirosaki Metropolis)

hirosaki castle japan
The Hirosaki Fortress’s short-term spot

Situated within the metropolis with the identical title, this huge park is a pleasant spot to wander round.

That is thought of one of many prime spots to view the cherry blossoms within the springtime (there are 2,600 timber planted right here), and within the fall, you may benefit from the autumn leaves.

Not solely are the timber a spotlight right here, however the complete park is surrounded by a moat with small pink bridges crossing the water, and historic gates.

The actual spotlight of Hirosaki Park is the 400-year-old fortress — which is the final remaining one from the Edo Interval within the Tohoku area.

Once we visited, the fortress had moved. That’s proper, the complete fortress itself was picked up in a single piece, and moved 70m!

Apparently, the bottom was turning into weak, and with the intention to protect it, the fortress was slowly moved to the aspect for the construction to be repaired. It’ll take round 10 years to utterly restore the bottom and it’s anticipated to be moved again to its authentic 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 fortress, you’ll must pay 320 yen ($2.95).

You can too buy a ticket that grants you entrance to the fortress, 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

Entrance to the iwakiyama shrine aomori
Entrance to the Iwakiyama 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 all spiritual constructing (church, mosque, temple, and many others.) there are do’s and don’ts relating to visiting and praying at one, however there’s no must stress and you must undoubtedly go to one throughout your journey. Needless to say as a vacationer/visitor, you received’t be anticipated to know all of those guidelines.

  • The primary factor to bear in mind when coming into a Shinto shrine is to bow earlier than coming 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 footwear the place indicators instruct.
  • When you’re on the shrine, put a coin into the donation field for the deity.
  • Following that, clap your fingers two occasions, say your prayer, clap two extra occasions, and bow.

That’s it.

Shintoism is a perception within the ancestors, nature and sacred powers. This religion originated in Japan within the eighth century and is as outdated because the tradition itself. Shintoism has no scripture, books or propaganda and alongside Buddhism, it’s one of many prime two beliefs in Japan.

Iwakiyama is likely one of the most necessary non secular websites in Aomori, so it’s a terrific place to expertise this tradition firsthand.

To go to the Iwakiyama Shrine from Hirosaki, take the Konan bus sure for Karekitai from the Konan bus station, which is in entrance of the Hirosaki Prepare Station. It’s a couple of 40-minute bus journey. Alternatively, you may go on a tour, rent a driver, or hire your personal 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 cherished to trek that route. Be taught extra right here.

8. Strolling Tour of Aomori

An effective way to be taught in regards to the metropolis of Aomori is with a licensed, English-speaking information. On this non-public 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 determine what you need to see and do within the metropolis. Be taught 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 capable of journey it. However, this is likely one of the hottest issues to do within the space, particularly within the fall when you may take pleasure in an incredible vantage level of the mountains lined in fall colors.

Man painting a scene in Oirase
Man portray a scene in Oirase

Within the Aomori prefecture alone, there are 15 ski resorts. For sure, snowboarding is a well-liked winter exercise right here. To be taught extra in regards to the quite a few ski resorts within the space, click on right here.

The highway between the Hakkoda Resort and Sukayu Onsen is closed in the course of the winter however reopens on April 1st every year. With excessive snowbanks on both aspect, strolling and driving via this 10-meter-high snowy hall could be a fairly superb sight — try the cherry blossoms sooner or later, and the snow wall the following!

For seafood lovers, don’t miss the Furukawa fish market (Aomori Gyosai Heart) in Aomori Metropolis. Right here you may create your personal seafood rice bowl, referred to as nokkedon. Fill your bowl with rice and prime 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 below are the perfect modes of transportation.

By Aircraft

From Tokyo, you may fly with Japan Airways to Aomori. The flight is about 1 hour and quarter-hour and prices round $150 USD.

By Prepare

From Tokyo, you may take the Shinkansen bullet practice (which is what I like to recommend). This fashion, you get to benefit from the surroundings alongside the way in which.

We travelled from Tokyo Station to Shin Aomori on the Shinkansen Hayabusa practice (utilizing our JR Rail Go). 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.

Amazing view of the volcano and autumn colours in Hirosaki Park
Wonderful view of the volcano and autumn colors in Hirosaki Park

Prepare stations in Japan generally is a bit overwhelming. My largest suggestion is to offer your self a number 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 you need to be at, and learn how to get there. There are many them at all the bigger stations, they converse sufficient English and are greater than keen that can assist you out.

By Automotive

Throughout our journey to Tohoku, we stored saying that having our personal rental automobile would’ve been the easiest way to see all the pure websites of Aomori.

You can do it by public transport, however having your personal wheels will help you cease in any respect the superb viewpoints, and discover your personal quiet place for a picnic or a hike.

I don’t suggest hiring a automobile for the complete period of your journey to Japan (as it may be dear and public transport is so environment friendly), however possibly 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 isn’t any exception.

Every season within the prefecture provides one thing completely different, so plan your journey across the actions you need to do and the kind of climate you need.

To witness the beautiful cherry blossoms, you’ll need to go to on the finish of April. Hirosaki Park is likely one of the prime spots in all the nation to see the blossoms, so count on crowds, however some unimaginable picture alternatives as effectively.

cherry blossoms japan hirosaki aomori
Hirosaki Park with cherry blossoms – what an incredible sight! (Picture Credit score: Shutterstock)

For individuals who need to hit the slopes, December – March is if you’ll need to go to. Needless to say Aomori is likely one of the snowiest cities in the complete world — receiving round 20 toes of snow!

The prefecture transforms right into a winter wonderland with folks soaking additional 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 upfront 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 pageant, and luxuriate in a high temperature, go to Aomori in the summertime months (August for the pageant).

For a cooler, snug temperature and to witness the autumn leaves altering color, go to Aomori in October/November. The leaves might 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 many others.), 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 only get a really feel for the prefecture — and despite the fact that it was a quick journey, we had a terrific expertise! Because of all of the superb mountaineering and nature alternatives, we might’ve spent about 10 days – 2 weeks right here and loved a extra relaxed journey tempo.

Whenever you’re planning your subsequent journey to Japan, take into account Tohoku. With quick access from the capital, tasty meals and fewer vacationers, it’s an space of the nation you received’t need 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 Highway, all ideas, critiques and opinions stay our personal — regardless of any complimentary providers obtained. 

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