Perfect Guide of Aomori City, Japan

Do you remember the travel to Japan of 3000 B.C. that I shared with you? Many of Sannai Mariyama Relics visitors stay in Aomori City. Actually, there are great, unique and very interesting things in the city, too. This time, I’d like to share 5 things to see in Aomori City with you. Amazingly, all of them are in a walking distance.

1: Nebuta Museum Warasse

The best of bests in Aomori City is this Nebuta Museum. Your first question will be, “What’s a nebuta?”

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A Large Nebuta in Warasse, Aomori, Japan

Nebutas (also, neputa) are huge lanterns like the photos – 5 meters high, nearly 10 meters wide, 7 meters depth and 4 TONS!

Aomori holds Nebuta Festival on 2 – 7 August every year, which is visited by more than 3 MILLION people. It is undoubtedly one of the biggest, and the most exciting festivals in Japan.

Performers called haneto (meaning, “jumping people” or something like that) draw nubutas in the parades. Nebuta culture is seen only in Aomori, so it is very interesting to everyone, including Japanese people like me.

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An Award-Winning Nebuta in Warasse

The festival is totally exciting, but the problem is that your travel schedule won’t be on 2 – 7 August in most cases. So… No nebutas for 359 days…?

That’s why Nebuta Museum was established! We can meet award-winning nebutas, learn the culture, see haneto stages and even try some things of Nebuta Festival every day!

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Nebutas’ designs come from historical characters and Japanese classic literature. Famous scenes pop up as nebutas.

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Just seeing those huge nebutas is stunning, but we can learn the culture more. For example, there is a display of Nebuta Festival costumes.

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Haneto Displays & Photo Spots

We also learn how to make a nebuta. Amazingly, we can touch the paper and wires! The Japanese paper is quite thick.

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TOUCHABLE Nabutas in the museum!

Nebuta Museum cannot be anything but STUNNING. I am not responsible even if you literally get stunned at the huge nebutas.

When you visit Aomori, this red interesting building is definitely a MUST-SEE!

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Nebuta Museum Warasse, Aomori, Japan

(Visitor information is at the bottom of this article.)




2: Utou Shrine

In Japan, traditional shinto shrines and Buddhist temples (Want to learn the differences here?) are always things to see. There are in Aomori, too. Especially, Utou Shrine is the oldest shrine in the city.

Utou Shrine, Aomori, Japan
Utou Shrine Entrance, Aomori, Japan

Utou Shrine is said to be the birthplace of Aomori. Established in 807 (or before that), it has been a shrine loved by Aomori locals.

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It is not as big as Japan’s biggest shrines, but very beautiful and comfortable. Aomori is a city of fishers, so Utou Shrine has many stories related to water. For example, this dragon is believed to be the guardian for people involved with sea. We can wash our hands freely here.

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Guardian of Water in Utou Shrine

The atmosphere was quiet, beautiful and elegant. I felt that it is very Northern Japan like.

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A Small Shrine in Utou Shrine
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The Very Beautiful Pond in Utou Shrine
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Wishing Boards and a Torii

Whichever your hotel is, Utou Shrine will be near you. Why not go there?

3: Aspam

This A-shaped building is the center of sightseeing and products of Aomori. The ground floor is full of Aomori’s souvenirs – not “Japanese” souvenirs, but Aomori’s products, right?

Aspam building, Aomori, Japan
Aspam building, Aomori, Japan

The highest floor is an observatory. We can see 360 degrees of views of Northern Japan. Even Hokkaido is seen beyond the sea!

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Tsugaru Straight from Aspam
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Aomori City, Hakkoda Maru ship and the Bay

There are good local restaurants in the building, so you can enjoy the beautiful views with foods, too. I especially recommend the local cuisine restaurant. Aomori is a city of fishers – there are some traditional soul foods started by them. “Kai-yaki miso” is a scallop grilled with eggs and miso, which is originated from fishers lunch.

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Northern Japan Cuisine Nishimura

In the morning in Aomori, you can find some places to have rice bowls with fresh seafood (nokke-don). I’d like to encourage you to have lunch at Nebuta Museum or here to experience Northern Japan, not just Japan.

 

4: Hakkoda-maru the Memorial Ship

You saw an yellow ship from Aspam observatory, didn’t you? It is Hakkoda Maru, which had been a ship coming and going between Aomori and Hakodate in Hokkaido. After retired, the ship loved by locals is now on display.

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Let me note that it is a big ship with 4 floors and an underground floor. I mean, it took me half an hour to see all! If your travel schedule is too tight, or you are too tired to go up and down many stairs, you can say hello to Hakkoda Maru from the outside. If not, enter the ship and feel the atmosphere of life in Aomori decades ago.

The best spot I selected is the observatory!

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5: A-Factory

The last of things to see in Aomori City is this cute triangle roofed building near the bridge. This is A-Factory, which is the center of Aomori’s fresh foods!

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Here is a common sense of Japanese people; Aomori is famous for apples. In A-Factory, they are making cider from Aomori’s apples!

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What makes us happy is that they offer cider tasting! You’ll buy a card and get the drink as self-service, but the instructions are friendly enough to be malti-lingual.

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When you find the best cider, you can get a bottle of it in the ground floor. The cool cafe is in the ground floor and the restaurant is in the 2nd floor.

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A-Factory (The red building seen in the left through the window is Nebuta Museum – They are literally neighboring.)

All of these 5 things to see are in a walking distance in the city. You won’t miss anything with this article.

Have a wonderful trip in Northern Japan!

Travel Information & Helpful Links of Aomori

Nebuta Museum Warasse

Opening Hours: 9:00 – 19:00 in May – August, 9:00 – 18:00 in September – April.

Closed on 31 December, 1 January. On 9 and 10 August, the museum is closed to change all the nebutas into new ones, but the restaurant and souvenir shop are open.

Admission Fees: 600 yen for adult, 450 yen for high school student, 250 yen for elementary or junior high school student.

Nebuta Museum Warasse Official Website: http://www.nebuta.jp/warasse/ (English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese)

Nebuta Festival Official Website: http://www.nebuta.jp/ (English, Korean, Chinese and Japanese)

Aspam

Admission Fees for the Observatory: 400 yen for adult, 300 yen for high school student, 200 yen for elementary or junior high school student

Opening Hours of the Observatory: 9:00 – 19:00 in April – October, 9:00 – 18:00 in November – March

Official Website: http://www.aomori-kanko.or.jp/web/ (in Japanese)

Hakkoda Maru the Memorial Ship

Opening Hours: 9:00 – 19:00 in April – October, 9:00 – 17:00 in November – March

Admission Fees: 500 yen for adult, 300 yen for high school or junior high school student, 100 yen for elementary school student

Official Website: http://aomori-hakkoudamaru.com/ (in Japanese)

A-Factory

Opening Hours: 9:00 – 20:00

Official Website: http://www.jre-abc.com/wp/afactory/ (inJapanese)

How to Get to Aomori from Tokyo
Take JR Shinkansen (bullet train/super express) from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori. It takes around 3.5 hours. Take JR Ou Line to Aomori. It is a 5 minutes ride, 190 yen.

Tip: Get Discounts by the Combined Ticket

There are several types of combined tickets for the places above.

I recommend “Aomori Bay Area Ticket” most, which is for Nebuta Museum & Aspam Observatory & Hakkoda-maru (1300 yen for adult, 900 yen for high school student, 700 yen for junior high school student, 500 yen for elementary school student). If you don’t enter Hakkoda Maru and visit Nebuta Museum and Aspam, you don’t need to buy any of combined tickets.

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Accommodation in Aomori City



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