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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Awe-inspiring festivals, modern art, superb seafood and the world's largest virgin beech forest

Located way up at the northernmost tip of Honshu, Aomori is the last mainland bullet train stop before Hokkaido and was once the port of choice for sea runs to Hakodate in Hokkaido.

Considered one of Japan's most comfortable cities, Aomori has winter snows for alpine sports, and its temperate climate is perfect for trekking, cycling and more when the weather turns hot. Because it faces two oceans—the Sea of Japan and the Pacific—and with mountains, valleys, lakes, and shores—Aomori has year-round recreational possibilities.

Like many rural prefectures, Aomori goes big when it comes to festivals. The Aomori Nebuta Festival, with its massive glowing floats and chants, singing and dancing, is one of Japan's standout events.

The art scene here is sophisticated, from the fine modern collection at the Aomori Museum of Art to unusual places like the Michinoku Traditional Wooden Boat Museum, featuring a collection of 67 traditional wooden fishing vessels.

Don't Miss

  • The Nebuta House Wa Rasse Nebuta Museum displaying Nebuta festival illuminated floats
  • Furukawa Fish Market, the bustling seafood hub of Aomori
  • One of Japan's most respected contemporary museums, the Aomori Museum of Art

How to Get There

Aomori is easily accessible by train, bus, and airplane.

Japan Airlines offers a number of daily flights between Tokyo's Haneda Airport and Aomori Airport. If you'd rather go by train, the JR Tohoku Shinkansen travels from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori regularly. The Konan Bus Company runs a number of day and overnight buses between Tokyo's Ueno Station and Aomori.

If you're in Kansai, you can fly to Aomori Airport from Osaka's Itami Airport.

One of the nation's biggest celebrations

The biggest event on Aomori Prefecture's calendar and its biggest tourist attraction is the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, which runs every year from August 2 to 7. Locals parade through the streets pushing enormous lantern floats made from traditional washi paper while entertaining the crowd with Japanese dances and songs.

You can join the dance if you like, but you'll need to buy and wear the traditional haneto dancing costume beforehand.

Where the festivals never die

If you miss the festival, you'll get nearly as much of a thrill out of the Nebuta House Wa Rasse Nebuta Museum, the city's year-round exhibit to this extraordinary event. You can learn all about the history of this fun and fascinating event. If you're lucky, you may even catch a weekend performance by local haneto dancers.

Venturing into Aomori's raw natural beauty

Southeast Aomori has the Sanriku Fukko National Park, an area that extends from near Hachinohe to Kessennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, 220 kilometers away. You'll be amazed by the sawtoothed rocks, bays, rock islands and cliffs.

The rugged Shirakami Mountains embrace the world's largest virgin forest of beech trees, a World Heritage Site. You can trek around the forest to explore places such as the Juniko Lakes—including the cobalt blue pond called Aoike—the Shirakami Promenade, filled with unusual flora and fauna, as well as Nihon Canyon and Anmon Falls.

For those feeling more adventurous, check out Shimokita Hanto, a peninsula shaped like the head of an ax that is home to one of the most sacred sites in Japanese Buddhism, Mt. Osore. Covered in ash, smoking and looking like the gates to hell, the mountain and its Bodaiji Temple have become a popular tourist destination.

Seafood doesn't get any better than this

Situated on Mutsu Bay, Aomori has many great places to dive headfirst into the bounty of the sea. The Hasshoku Center and Furukawa Fish Market are two of the city's most famous. At Furukawa Fish Market be sure to try the nokkedon, a rice bowl topped with the seafood of your choice.

Tsugaru's sights and sounds

Tsugaru Hanto is a peninsula that juts out toward Hokkaido. It's the birthplace of the Tsugaru shamisen, a three-stringed guitar-like instrument popularly used in local folk music. The peninsula is home to Tappizaki Cape, the northernmost point on the Sea of Japan, where wild winds blow year round.

For trekkers and climbers, Mt. Iwaki is the place to be. There are several routes up what is known as the Fuji of Tsugaru. If you're going to Anmon Falls, you can stay at the Aqua Green Village campground and follow the Anmon River all the way there. Tours are available for these treks.

A ride on the Tsugaru Railway, which runs across the southern part of the peninsula, is highly recommended. This slow-running train that stops frequently, and depending on the season may have wind bells mounted, baskets filled with chirping crickets, or equipped with stoves in the winter.

Step back in time

History buffs shouldn't miss the Kamegaoka Site, also on Tsugaru Peninsula, and the Sannai-Maruyama Ruins, near the Aomori Museum of Art. These archeological sites date back to the Jomon period (14,000–300 BC), the point when many academics believe Japan began to build a level of cultural complexity.

Both sites display artifacts and structures of the period. The Sannai-Maruyama Ruins have several restored buildings to investigate, including one with pillars sunk into the ground, a large dwelling built into a dugout, and a warehouse with a raised floor.

A cultural capital of Japan

From prehistoric to contemporary culture, Aomori is home to one of Japan's most respected modern art museums, the Aomori Museum of Art. It is built predominantly underground, set deep into the earth to replicate the nearby archeological trenches. Featuring work by local and international talent, it's filled with artistic and architectural delights, including pieces from Marc Chagall and Paul Klee.

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