Welcome back to Exploring Japan, where I take you on a quick tour of a different prefecture each week. This week is Aomori.
Aomori is the northernmost prefecture on the main island of Honshu in the Tohoku region. It has a population of 1,373,164. The capital city is Aomori, not surprisingly. The 5 largest cities are:
Aomori is another prefecture that is losing people to other regions of Japan, particularly the big cities.
Hirosaki Castle – This castle, in the city of Hirosaki, is an original castle. While it doesn’t look particularly large, of course I want to see it.
Ne Castle – A reconstruction of an old 14th century castle in Hachinohe. Also, there’s the Hachinohe Castle ruins.
Things to see and do
There’s so much to see in Aomori. Lake Towada is a popular place, shared with Akita prefecture, and has the beautiful Oirase Valley. There’s a Big Buddha in Seiryuuji Temple in Aomori City, and it’s the largest seated Buddha in Japan. Hakoji Temple in Nanbu has the largest 3 storey pagoda in Japan, as well as the oldest Buddha ashes in Japan. Mount Osore, near Mutsu, is one of the 3 mountains in Japan dedicated to Buddha, and is popular with tourists, as well as having a very bleak-looking landscape. The Hakkoda Mountains are a group of volcanic cones that are great for hiking. I think it would be pretty interesting. Also, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakami-Sanchi is in Aomori. It’s a large unspoiled mountain wilderness that would be great to see.
Aomori City is home to one of Japan’s most famous festivals, the Aomori Nebuta Festival. This festival features many large illuminated floats. I’d really like to see it.
In Aomori City, there are several things I’d like to see. The Aomori Prefectural Museum would be interesting, as it shows the history of Aomori. The Aomori Museum of Art is apparently pretty big, too. Then there’s the Sannai Maruyama, a historical site dedicated to the Jomon people. Aspam Center is a tourist centre that has an observation deck with views of the city. Asamushi Aquarium is a pretty decent aquarium, as well.
Hachinohe has a very interesting looking island called Kabushima with the Kabushima Benzaiten shrine on top of a hill. It’s a major bird breeding area, mainly for seagulls. Nejo Plaza has a reconstruction of an old castle. The Sansha Taisai is a big festival featuring many floats and parades each day.
Hirosaki is known as Kyoto of the north. There are a lot of temples here. Zenringai is a group of 33 temples brought to Hirosaki to protect the castle. Choshoji is known for its Sanmon Gate and Saishoin for its 5 storey pagoda. The Neputa Festival is very similar to Aomori’s Nebuta Festival.
Mutsu is home to a Japanese Marine Self-Defense Forces base, where you can request a tour of the base.
Goshogawara is home to the Tachineputa Festival, which is quite obviously similar to the Neputa and Nebuta Festivals.
Aomori is very famous in Japan for its apples. I like apples. I’ve probably eaten Aomori apples. So, I can safely recommend these apples for anyone who likes apples. Aomori also has very good seafood.
Have you been to Aomori? What would you recommend?