Get closer to Japan by realizing its root in simple explanation. Now, let's take a journey of Japanese culture!
Apples, Tuna, the Nebuta Festival.... they all remind us of Aomori.Aomori prefecture is located in northern Tohoku, in the northern tip of Japan's main island, Honshu. The area is renowned for heavy snowfall and in winter, visitors from inside and outside of Aomori, as well as foreign tourists, come in search of its pristine powder snow.
Today, let's talk about Aomori!
Aomori has an approximate population of 1.26 million and an area of 9,644㎢,about 2.5 percent of the whole of Japan.It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean (east), the Tsugaru Strait (north), and the Sea of Japan (west). High quality sea food is caught in abundance each season and this is one of the highlights of visiting Aomori - no matter the time of the year, there is always seasonal seafood to enjoy.
Aomori is rich in natural resources such as Lake Towada, Mount Hakkoda, Mount Iwaki, the Hotokegaura Rock Formations along the Shimokita Peninsula and the World Heritage Site, Shirakami Sanchi (Shirakami Mountain Range). We also recommend you try out an unusual nature experience called “Ground Blizzard Experience in Snowy Country”, where you can experience blizzard conditions in Mount Hakkoda.
Aomori Airport and Misawa Airport provide two windows into the prefecture, with Aomori Airport operating international flights from Korea (Incheon) and China (Tianjin).
Using the Tohoku Shinkansen you can arrive at Tokyo station in just 3 hours. Also, the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, which connects Shin-Aomori Station to Shin-Hakodade Hokuto Station, has made Hokkaido much more accessible.
Aomori is attracting increasing attention from overseas tourists, with the number of foreign visitors in 2017 up around 67 percent from the previous year. But we cannot talk more about Aomori without first mentioning matsuri (festivals).
1/Aomori Nebuta Matsuri
2/Goshogawara city Tachineputa Festival
3/Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri
4/Kuroishi Neputa Matsuri
5/Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival
6/Kuroishi Yosare Festival
7/Towada Autumn Festival
Aomori's Nebuta festivals are indeed famous but perhaps some are wondering which is the correct pronunciation, Nebuta or Neputa?
Depending on the region, the festival is called Nebuta or Neputa. There are a number of theories as to the origin of these words, but the prevailing opinion is that it originated from the event Nemuri Nagashi - where they would banish sleepiness by floating lanterns down the river or out to sea during the summer when farm work is at its busiest stage, and afterwards this came to be called Nebuta or Neputa.
The Aomori Nebuta Festival (1), held for seven days in the beginning of August, is very famous with more than 2 million tourists visiting from all over Japan every year.
The “Odoriko” dancers are called “Haneto” and large numbers of the city’s inhabitants dance together, coordinating their movements with the music while chanting “Rassera! Rassera!” The highlight is seeing the fan-shaped floats depicting images or in the shape of samurai warriors as they pass through the town.
On the ocean-facing side of JR Aomori station you will find “The Nebuta Wrasse Museum” (Aomori City Culture Tourist Exchange Facility), which at any time of the year gives visitors a taste of the atmosphere and traditions of the Nebuta Matsuri, the festival which has overseen the development of the city throughout the years.
Aomori is also the place to find vast areas of untouched nature.Each season is breathtakingly beautiful.Here are some of Aomori's most beautiful scenic spots, all once-in-a-lifetime experiences!
3/Tsuta Numa Lake (Tsuta Seven Lakes)
4/Lake Juniko (Twelve Lakes) /Aoike Pond
8/Takayama Inari Shrine
Lake Towada (2) is located on the border between Aomori and Akita.Oirase Stream (1) flows for 14km from Nenokuchi in Lake Towada through to Yakeyama.Oirase Stream belongs to the Towada-Hachimantai National Park and is designated as Japan's Special Place of Scenic Beauty and as a Natural Monument.The flow of the river creates a beautiful mountain stream shaded by lush trees with over a dozen cascading waterfalls that will take your breath away. Feel the cells of your body come alive as you take deeps breaths of the air, rich in negative ions!Each season can be enjoyed at Oirase stream - the fresh green of May and June, Autumn colors from the beginning of October, with the middle to late October being the very best time to visit.Aomori’s Takayama Inari Shrine (8) is just as beautiful as Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine with its famous red Torii gates.Going up a long staircase that leads from the entrance, there you will find the Main Hall of Takayama Inari Shrine where tradionally one would pray for bountiful harvests, maritime safety and business prosperity. Continue forward and you will feel as though you have gone back in time to the Heian period as the beautifully landscaped Japanese garden and bright red Torii gates spread out before you.
Torii gates, depending in the shrine, can reach as high as 2 meters and here there are 202 of these red colored gates. In recent years visitors to the shrine have increased dramatically with many tourists from Asia, such as Taiwan, China etc.
Aomori is known for Oma tuna and scallops and other delicious seafood. But it is also a treasure trove of historic dishes, unusual ramen and “B-grade” (cheap but tasty) local cuisine.
Some of these are also available as souvenirs, so here is a list of delicious Aomori food we invite you to try at least once!
1/Maguro-don (tuna bowl)
2/Nokke-don (rice bowls with toppings of your choice)
3/Senbei-Jiru (broth with vegetables and rice crackers)
4/Ichigoni (soup made of fresh sea urchin and abalone)
5/Kenojiru (miso-based tofu soup)
6/Tsuyu Yakisoba (Yakisoba noodle soup)
8/Towada Barayaki (grilled beef and onions)
Have you tried any of these before?Most likely you have never heard of Ichigoni (4).While “Ichigo” means “strawberry”, this soup doesn't contain a single berry. It is local cuisine from the Hachinohe region.It has its humble beginnings as a meal cooked on the beach by fishermen who made a soup filled with sea urchin and abalone. In the Taishō period (1912 - 1926) it began to be served in ryōtei, a type of luxurious traditional Japanese restaurant where it would be served as a beautifully presented clear soup.These days it is an essential dish served on special days and the New Year holiday. It is one of the dishes that truly represents the local cuisine of Aomori.One more dish that we would like to recommend is (7) Miso-Curry-Milk Ramen! This is one of Aomori’s “B-grade” (cheap and tasty) dishes which blends miso and creamy milk with a flavor of curry, topped with butter. As soon as you take a bite, you’ll fall in love!This unique flavor has also been released as a cup ramen flavor and it has become a popular souvenir.
We have barely begun to scratch the surface on the attractive points of Aomori, the prefecture surrounded by a sprawling landscape and rich waters.
So, why not plan a visit to Aomori yourself - take a look around, eat and find your own favorite spots!
It is my opinion and summary. Please acknowledge that there are various opinions.