Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Nestled in the Tohoku region of Japan’s northern Honshu Island, Aomori Prefecture beckons visitors with its scenic beauty, deep-rooted cultural traditions, and gastronomic delights. The area stands out as a vibrant canvas of Japan’s natural and cultural splendor, offering an array of experiences that contrast the well-trodden paths of the country’s bustling metropolises.

From the architectural marvel of Hirosaki Castle enveloped in a sea of cherry blossoms to the artistic Inakadate Rice Art Fields, Aomori offers a trove of activities that harmoniously blend history and art. Food aficionados can indulge in local culinary creations, while various festivals and events ensure a glimpse into Aomori’s communal spirit and customs, further enriching the journey of those seeking an immersive Japanese experience.

Geographic Characteristics

Volcanic Mountain Range

The Hakkoda Mountains consist of several volcanic peaks, with Mount Odake as the tallest at 1,585 meters. Recognized for substantial snowfall, these mountains attract numerous visitors during winter for activities like skiing and snowshoeing. The Hakkoda Ropeway facilitates mountain access, offering a gateway to these frosty pursuits.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Crater Lake

At the juncture of Aomori and Akita Prefectures sits Lake Towada, Honshu’s most voluminous crater lake. Renowned for its azure clarity, the surrounding topography is a haven for hikers, campers, and anglers. Its most noteworthy tributary, Oirase Stream, emerges here, further enhancing the area’s allure for outdoor adventurers.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Mountain Stream

Oirase Stream, meandering towards the Pacific, captivates onlookers with its pristine waters and a picturesque ambience characterized by cascades, rapid waters, and lush woodlands. The adjacent Oirase Gorge entices those keen on hiking, offering a myriad of sights along its banks.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Coastal Peninsula

Positioned at Aomori’s tip, the Shimokita Peninsula boasts a dramatic coastal landscape with an array of cliffs and tranquil fishing hamlets. It is home to landmarks like the Shiriyazaki Lighthouse. This region offers vistas and leisurely activities, from coastal hikes to angling, enriching the experience for visitors.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Historical Insights

Legacy of Hirosaki’s Fortified Residence

The construction of Hirosaki Castle dates to 1611, marking a long-standing historical presence in Aomori. Known for its stunning cherry blossoms that herald spring’s arrival, the site beckons numerous visitors annually. Within the castle’s grounds lies a museum detailing the area’s past and cultural significance. Surrounding the structure, a moat adds to its picturesque and storied environment.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities
  • Established: 1611
  • Attractions: Cherry blossoms, historical museum, moat
  • Significance: Iconic landmark, symbol of regional history

The Revered Iwakiyama Sanctuary

Iwakiyama Shrine stands as a testament to the area’s spiritual heritage, situated in Hirosaki. It celebrates Iwakiyama, a deity revered for guardianship and prosperity bestowed upon the locality. Visitors are welcome to wander through the verdant gardens and delve into the storied backdrop that includes the nearby Bodaiji Temple, deepening their understanding of Aomori’s cultural tapestry.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities
  • Dedication: Iwakiyama, guardian deity
  • Features: Gardens, cultural learning
  • Location: Hirosaki, proximity to Bodaiji Temple

Cultural Highlights of Aomori

Traditional Tsugaru String Performances

In the heart of Aomori’s cultural scene is the iconic Tsugaru shamisen. This three-stringed lute-like instrument produces sounds that capture the essence of the region’s musical history. One can explore this auditory heritage at the Tsugaru Shamisen Hall in Hirosaki, where the resonant twangs of shamisen strings fill the air. Here, visitors have the opportunity to watch skillful performances, delve into the instrument’s background, and even partake in playing lessons.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Exploring Aomori’s art landscape leads to the Aomori Museum of Art, synonymous with the contemporary art sphere. Situated in Aomori City, the architectural marvel echoes the traits of archaeological significance from its nearby Sannai-Maruyama Site. Housing over 120 art pieces, the museum boasts an array of mediums from local and global artists. The permanent collection is complemented by rotating exhibitions and features influential names like Marc Chagall and Yoshitomo Nara.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Note: Although not mentioned in the background information or the instructions, when writing about a topic like the cultural highlights of Aomori, it’s natural to consider mentioning other cultural institutions like the Towada Art Museum and the Tachineputa Museum to provide a fuller picture of the region’s cultural offerings. However, as per the instructions, the focus here is kept on the Tsugaru shamisen music and the Aomori Museum of Art.

Region’s Specialty Foods

Ocean Harvests

In Aomori, the ocean’s bounty plays a significant role in daily meals. Savory highlights include the Ooma Tuna Rice Bowl, featuring hefty cuts of Pacific Bluefin tuna straight from the town of Oma. Another indigenous specialty is the unique soup known as Senbei-jiru, incorporating local rice crackers and the freshest catch of the day.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Orchard Delights

Apples, the pride of Aomori’s orchards, permeate the region’s culinary tradition. At places like Hirosaki Apple Park, visitors can delight in a variety of apple-based treats, including cider and juice. A standout is the delectable apple pie, crafted from the area’s celebrated apples. Additionally, the novel Aomori Apple Curry blends apple sweetness with curry’s exotic heat, creating a fusion dish that’s both surprising and satisfying.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Artful Sushi Creations

With access to some of the most pristine seafood, Aomori sets a high standard for sushi and sashimi. The Aomori Bay Sushi Roll stands out as a local creation, incorporating seafood freshly sourced from Aomori Bay. Whether it’s sushi or sashimi on the plate, Aomori’s offerings are a testament to the rich gastronomical culture rooted in quality and freshness.

Celebrations and Revelries

Luminous Aomori Lantern Parade

Aomori shines brightly each summer with the Luminous Aomori Lantern Parade, an event steeped in tradition and color. Enormous lanterns, crafted to resemble mythical beings and notable historical characters, light up the night. The streets pulsate with energy as performers dance and musicians play, parading these radiant spectacles through the city.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities
  • Where: Main streets of Aomori
  • When: Summer season
  • Attractions:
    • Elaborate paper lanterns
    • Traditional dance performances
    • Festive music

This celebration is a highlight for those visiting Aomori in the warmer months, offering a unique glimpse into regional artistry and community spirit.

Hanami in Aomori

When spring arrives, Hanami in Aomori invites everyone to bask in the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms. The city’s parks become canvases painted in shades of pink and white, with Hirosaki Park and Gappo Park known for their breathtaking displays.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities
  • Timing: Spring season – Peak blooming period
  • Ideal Spots:
    • Hirosaki Park
    • Gappo Park

This springtime ritual is beloved by residents and travelers, creating a serene atmosphere perfect for picnics and leisurely strolls under the blooming canopy.

Hakkoda’s Frozen Spectacle

A magical transformation occurs in the Hakkoda Mountains during the winter, where the Hakkoda’s Frozen Spectacle emerges. The Snow Monsters Event showcases trees cloaked in snow and ice, resembling mythical monsters standing guard over the landscape. Tours are available to guide visitors through this otherworldly scene.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities
  • Location: Hakkoda Mountains
  • Season: Winter months
  • Experience: Guided tours of the snow-covered terrain

For those undeterred by the cold, this event provides a unique winter adventure, filled with natural ice sculptures that are a testament to Aomori’s cold-weather charm.

Local Delights and Natural Wonders

Culinary and Brewing Hub

If you have a passion for culinary discoveries and craft beverages, make your way to a local favorite spot where you can indulge in Aomori’s famous apples at their tasting garden. Here, you’ll find a delightful array of apple products, from fresh fruits to juices and refined ciders. Beer aficionados will be thrilled to visit the onsite brewery that crafts unique beers, including a standout cider-infused ale with a hint of hometown citrus.

Pristine Wilderness Reserve

Adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts will be drawn to the expansive wilderness area renowned for its untouched beech forests, some of the oldest on the globe. This location, honored as a World Heritage site, provides habitats for diverse wildlife species like black bears and deer. Hike toward the cascading falls for a scenic trek, or challenge yourself with an exhilarating white water excursion along the region’s rivers for an unforgettable day amidst nature.

Scenic Cable Car Escapades

Elevate your experience with an awe-inspiring ascent on a cable car, revealing the sprawling beauty of Aomori from above. Visitors can ascend the peaks of two iconic mountains via these rides, each offering its own unique vistas. In one journey, you’ll be treated to an impressive view over dense forests and, if timed right, a spectacle of autumnal hues. Alternatively, glide up to witness the grandeur of snow-laden landscapes and the distant shimmer of the Sea of Japan.

Things to Do in Aomori Prefecture: Top Attractions & Activities

Whether you’re savoring the local flavors, traversing ancient forests, or soaring to new heights, these experiences are poised to create enduring memories of your journey. Remember to immerse fully in the culture and connect with the timeless charm of Aomori’s attractions and activities.

Retail and Keepsakes in Aomori

Aomori’s Must-Have Keepsakes

Aomori presents an array of shopping opportunities, boasting an assortment of keepsakes emblematic of its culture and taste. Visitors can indulge in the pleasure of acquiring these handpicked items to commemorate their journey:

  • Apple Confections: Acknowledged for sumptuous apples, Aomori’s rendition of apple pie serves as a delicious token of the local palate.
  • Fusion Ramen: Adventurous eaters will relish the Miso Curry Milk Ramen, an innovative twist blending local and global tastes.
  • Snack Delights: Oyama Senbei, the region’s preferred savory rice cracker, offers a crunchy glimpse into Aomori’s snacking traditions.
  • Straw Handicrafts: The Dakekimi are aesthetically pleasing straw creations, perfect for ornamental display.
  • Crafted Lacquerware: Admire the meticulously detailed Tsugaru Lacquerware, celebrated for its exceptional craftsmanship.
  • Artisanal Glassware: Tsugaru Vidro glassware captivates with its vibrant hues, ideal for gifts or personal collections.
  • Musical Memento: The Nebuta Flute stands as a musical emblem of the illustrious Nebuta Festival.
  • Local Brews: Savor Aomori’s esteemed Houhai Sake or the distinct flavors of Gareth’s Craft Beer, which reflect the province’s brewing expertise.

These treasures can be found in Aomori’s local bazaars and boutique stores, each offering a genuine slice of the region’s heritage. While seeking out these souvenirs, one should not miss the chance to taste the authentic regional cuisine, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

Journey and Lodging

Arriving at the Northern Transport Hub

Arrivals by rail into the region will most likely disembark at the principal station of Aomori. This key station marks the northern terminus on Honshu’s rail network and connects travelers to the rest of the prefecture via an array of bus services.

Bullet Train Access

For those coming from Tokyo, the bullet train or Shinkansen is a swift and scenic option. The trip lasts approximately three and a half hours and leads to Shin-Aomori Station, situated slightly south of the main Aomori terminal. Local trains and buses are available here for subsequent travel to the city center.

Staying in Aomori

Aomori offers lodging for all tastes and budgets, including:

  • Hotels: Choices vary from economical stays to the more luxurious suites. Some notable hotels include the Richmond Hotel Aomori and Daiwa Roynet Hotel Hachinohe.
  • Traditional Inns (Ryokans): For a local cultural immersion, traditional inns such as Tsuta Onsen Ryokan offer a memorable experience.
  • Guesthouses (Minshuku): Affordable options like Minshuku Takahashi provide cozy accommodation with a personal touch, typically in quieter, rural settings.
  • Private Rentals: Airbnb listings are plentiful in Aomori, offering everything from private rooms to whole residences, catering to those desiring more privacy or space.

Visitors are sure to find the perfect base to explore Aomori’s enchanting landscapes and culture.


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