Updated: Jul 18, 2022
The Aomori Prefecture, 青森県 Aomori-ken, is the Tōhoku region of Japan. It is located in the northern part of Japan, the capital of the prefecture is Aomori City. For the most part, the Aomori Prefecture's climate is relatively cooler than other areas on Honshu.
Aomori is most famous for its agriculture such as farming, fishing and more. However, it is most famous for apples. It is also home to the biggest seated Buddha in all of Japan, in Seiryū-ji, The Blue Dragon Temple. Mount Osore is located in this prefecture which is supposed to be the home of the dead and many festivals are celebrated here to welcome the dead to see their relatives.
Aomori is an interesting location that is full of history from the beautiful Hirosaki Castle to some of the softest powder you could snowboard on at the Hakkoda and Appi mountains. I personally, lived in this region of Japan for about 2 years and enjoyed exploring as much as I could before we left. The beauty of this region is the winter time for me. You can easily find yourself in an onsen, relaxing in the warm water while snow falls gingerly on your shoulders. It is home, to some amazing mountains to do all kinds of winter activities. The springtime brings Sakura, cherry blossoms, and while there are some gorgeous places down south to see the sakura in bloom, you would not be disappointed by visiting here in the springtime.
There are two ways to reach Aomori which is via the two airports Aomori Airport and Misawa Airport or you can take the Shinkansen, the bullet train. It is a unique part of Japan that may be overshadowed by the metropolitan life in Tokyo. If you are looking to get away from the bustle of Tokyo and see how the Japanese really live I highly suggest you consider taking a look at Aomori-ken for your next trip to Japan! I have compiled a list of my favorites places to see in Aomori. This is in no particular order.
1. Hirosaki Castle 弘前城 Hirosaki-jō -
The castle was constructed in 1611 and it was home to the Tsugaru clan. The castle is most iconic for the beautiful sakura that blooms there in the spring, it is one of the most famous places in Japan to see the sakura bloom there. It might be a little busy during your visit but nowhere near as busy as the south. Plus the backdrop of this beautiful castle really makes for an almost timeless setting to see the sakura. In addition, Hirosaki hosts the Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern festival during the winter time. It is one of the 5 snow festivals in the Tōhoku region. Guests can enjoy the various lanterns made by locals and in the evening see illuminated lanterns, pine trees and the castle itself. Hirosaki Castle is a must for a visit to Aomori!
2. Statue of Liberty Park or Ichou Park -
Located in Momoishi Village, the Statue of Liberty is a quarter of the size of the original Statue of Liberty located on Ellis Island. The statues are on the same latitude as the original. The Statue of Liberty is the biggest in Japan and kept very clean. You can't go to the top of this statue but it is pretty amazing to see a symbol of liberty in Japan! There is no entrance fee to the park, and it is open year round. Ichou Park is home to a pond, a park, and a rather exciting playground for the little ones. It is a very peaceful park that is gorgeous and home to some serene swans. These swans migrate from Siberia to stay warm during the winters. Finally, there are some easy walking trails around the park with tons of picnic tables and the trails are clearly marked.
3. Cape Shiriyazaki and Kandachime 尻屋崎, 寒立馬) -
Located on the northeasternmost point of Japan, on Honshu Cape Shiriyazaki is home to a lighthouse that borders that Tsugaru Straight that separates Honshu from Hokkaido and the Pacific Ocean. The idyllic Cape Shiriya is home to the Kandachime, short but stout horses that call the cape their home. They are given this name which means" to stand in the cold". The Kandachime are known for their steadfastness and ability to weather the harsh winters of the Aomori Prefecture. I have personally fed the horses and some will come right up to you to be fed. There is a small shop to purchase feed for the horses and even get a piping hot bowl of ramen!
4. Mount Hakkoda (八甲田山, Hakkōdasan) -
Mount Hakkoda is located in the Aomori Prefecture between Aomori City and Lake Towada. It is renowned for its seasonal beauty. It is famous for skiing, hiking and hot springs (onsen). Visitors during the winter can expect to find some of the best snow in all of Japan. It enjoys large snowfalls that offer fresh powder for skiers and snowboarders. There are two ski resorts the Zao in the Yamagata Prefecture and Hakkoda on the Aomori side. Additionally, visitors can enjoy relaxing and healing sore muscles in the hot springs at both ski resorts. In the autumn months, visitors can hike along the Kenashitai trail from the mountain that offers stunning views of the autumn foliage. Finally, if you don't care too much about the great outdoors there are so many onsens to visit, I can even count. It would be the perfect location to onsen hop!
5. Nebuta Matsuri (ねぶた祭 Nebuta Festival) -
The Nebuta Festival is a Tanabata (Star Festival) celebration near the end of the summer. It happens each year on August 2nd through the 7th. Local team build giant floats made of washi paper depicting different historical figures and kabuki actors. Each day of the festival the floats are pushed along the street by many of the builders and accompanied by dancers, taiko drummers, hand cymbals and more. It is a free festival where visitors can purchase amazing Japanese street food and enjoy some of the novelty games. For the free seating, you are still able to see the floats but you'll be a little bit in the back, for 3000 yen you can get seats up front. If you don't do anything else in the Aomori Prefecture this event is a must!
These are my list for 5 things to do in the Aomori Prefecture! Does it have you wanting to visit? Do you have any places in Aomori you would add to this list?