Aomori Prefecture which is at the northern tip of the main island of Honshu is surrounded on three sides by ocean and once you cross Tsugaru Strait, you will come to Hokkaido up north. It is one of Japan’s areas of heavy snowfall and even in the summer, it is rare for temperatures to go beyond 30 degrees Celsius. Beginning with the virgin forest expanse of Shirakami-Sanchi which has been recognized as a World Heritage site, the prefecture has many examples of nature including Lake Towada, the Hakkoda Mountains and the Shimokita Peninsula. The Seikan Tunnel which links Honshu with Hokkaido is the world’s 2nd longest tunnel next to Europe’s Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.
Hirosaki Castle is one of the symbolic spots in Aomori. Between late April and early May, many visitors come and appreciate the cherry blossoms at the Hirosaki Sakura Festival held at Hirosaki Park. If you want to fully savor Mother Nature, then places such as Shirakami-Sanchi, Oirase Stream, Lake Towada and the Hakkoda Mountains are popular. The Aomori Nebuta Festival is held in August but the Nebuta Warasse Museum which is dedicated to nebuta floats is open all year round. There are also plenty of other sightseeing sites including Mt. Osore which is known as one of Japan’s 3 Great Sacred Grounds alongside Mt. Hiei and Mt. Koya, Furofushi Onsen which has an attractive open-air bath alongside the coast, the Sannai-Maruyama site which is the largest archaeological site from the Jomon Era, and the Aomori Museum of Art.
One famous product in Aomori is its apples which boast the largest shipping rate in Japan. For regional cuisine, there is senbei jiru (rice cracker soup), hittsumi soup, and jappa jiru which is a fish dish. There are also other popular dishes such as kaiyaki miso which goes well with rice, maguro don, Towada barayaki which is known to be the soul food of Towada, and a clear soup with sea urchin and abalone known as ichigo ni.
It’s common to head for Aomori Prefecture from Tokyo by Shinkansen (Bullet Train), so a ride on the Tohoku Shinkansen will take a minimum of 3 hours to reach Aomori Station. Driving through the prefecture by rental car is convenient.
There are accommodations available near Aomori Station which is a handy base for sightseeing, Hirosaki located near Shirakami-Sanchi, the Lake Towada vicinity, Hachinohe and other areas.