Aomori Prefecture Guide Tohoku
Discover Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on Honshu famous for its festivals and its delicious apples.
Japan's Region: Aomori Prefecture, Tohoku 青森県
Aomori is a large prefecture in the Tohoku region and has many facets. From natural areas to developed modern cities, discover the thousand faces of Aomori region!
Specificities of Aomori
Aomori Prefecture is a rural prefecture located at the very north of Honshu just south of Hokkaido. Its name, which literally means "green woods", comes from the Edo Period of Japanese history when the forests on its shores guided ships to Hokkaido.
With Hyogo Prefecture, it is the only prefecture that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan. Ideal to have several perspectives of views during your visit in the prefecture!
The apple, a rather basic fruit at first sight, is however one of the specificities which participated in the fame of Aomori.
Indeed, the Aomori apple, Aomori Ringo in Japanese, is the symbol of the city as well as of the prefecture in general. Brought to Aomori in 1874 by American missionaries and cultivated since then, it is now found everywhere through its main varieties: Fuji, Tsugaru, Ôrin, and the Sekai Ichi, reputed to be the best in the world.
About 500,000 tons of apples are harvested every year, which represents half of Japanese production!
It is a must to try if you are in the area.
Capital of the prefecture, Aomori is the largest city in Aomori Prefecture with a population of around 288,000 inhabitants. Visiting the capital of the prefecture is an essential first activity to understand the modern and traditional symbols of the region !
Aomori prefecture is also fortunate to have several onsen (hot springs) in Asamushi, northeast of Aomori city, in Mutsu bay.
Among them, Sukayu Onsen on Hakkoda mountain, famous for its huge mixed bath Senninburo (a rarity in Japan), Tsuta Onsen located around seven beautiful lakes, and Yagen Onsen on Shimokita peninsula.
Just 30 minutes by express train west of Aomori is the lovely Hirosaki city. besides its huge castle grounds famous for their thousands of cherry trees, Hirosaki has a number of historical buildings.
Edo period with wooden houses once owned by local samurai and merchant families and Meiji-era constructions like the Fujita Memorial Garden, and some traditional temples including the five-story pagoda at Saisho-in.
Finally, the Towada Lake is the third largest and deepest lake of Japan and is known for the clarity of its water. Tour boats sail the lake from the Yasumiya bus terminal where there are buses to Aomori city. A further 30km along Route 454 is the tiny village of Shingo, and the Tomb of Christ. Locals claim that Jesus Christ did not die in Jerusalem but escaped to live in northern Tohoku as a rice farmer.
Symbols of Japanese animation, the festivals of Aomori are a must if you visit the region.
The most popular of them is the Aomori city Nebuta Festival, which is one of the biggest in the country.
Every summer, from August 2 to 7, you can find papier-mâché in all its forms: 5 meters high tanks, masks, traditional and mythological characters or even spirits like yokais, a multitude of animations are organized.
Linked to the Nebuta of Aomori, the second festival not to be missed is the Neputa of Hirosaki. While the first one symbolizes the frenzy of the troops preparing for the battle, the second one announces the victorious return of the troops.
Held from August 1 to 7, this festival shows sweet illuminations, musicians playing odaiko (giants drums) and other spectacular shows.
Do not hesitate any longer and attend the next editions!
Aomori Airport has daily JAL flights from Haneda Airport in Tokyo (80 minutes), Shin-Chitose Airport in Sapporo (50 min), and Itami Airport in Osaka (95 mins), as well as a Fuji Dream Airlines flight from Komaki Airport in Nagoya (1 hour, 20 mins).
To South Korea, Aomori Airport has four times a week flights to Seoul (3 hours) operated by Korean Airlines.
The overnight Shindai Tokkyu Express takes 14 hours, and 47 minutes to go to Osaka.
Express trains to Hirosaki via Shin Aomori Station take between 36 and 50 minutes on a local train. From Shin Aomori Station there are trains to Kanita, Minmaya and Tappizaki on the Tsugaru Line.
The Resort Shirakami is a special sightseeing train that runs from Akita via Goshogawa and Hirosaki to Aomori. The Resort Shirakami travels along the 147 km-long Gono Line with beautiful views of the Japan Sea coast, the Tsugaru Plain, and the Shirakami Highlands. The entire journey takes 5 hours. There are 3 services daily with one service running just the Aomori to Hirosaki leg and the other two running from Akita to Hirosaki.
Ferry To Hokkaido
There are Tsugaru Kaikyo ferries from Aomori Port to Hakodate and the trip takes about 3 hours and 40 minutes. There are eight daily crossings on the Aomori - Hakodate route, including two on the luxurious Blue Dolphin.