Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Your Ultimate Guide to Aomori City’s Attractions

Aomori City, the capital of Aomori Prefecture, has abundant beautiful nature, such as the Hakkōda mountain ranges and Mutsu Bay. Stunning scenery can be adorned throughout the year, and in fall, it is the time to find out your favorite kinds of apples! The city also holds one of Japan’s representative festivals. Moreover, it has a couple of important historical sites for visitors to experience the precious culture and history recorded in this northernmost prefecture in the Tōhoku region.

If you are planning to visit Aomori on your upcoming Japan trip, grab a few attractions from the list below to enjoy the city’s charm!

Explore Aomori With a Guided Tour

If you prefer to be guided when you visit Aomori, how about joining one of the below tours?

How to Get to Aomori City

Other than driving, there are a few ways to get to Aomori.

By Train

To get to Aomori faster from other cities in Japan, taking the bullet train Hayabusa (はやぶさ) is most recommended.

  • From Tokyo: around 3.25 hours
  • From Sendai: around 1.75 hours
  • From Morioka: around 45 minutes
  • From Hachinohe: around 30 minutes
  • From Hakodate: around an hour

From Hachinohe, you can also take the Aoimori Railway (青い森鉄道), but it takes around 1.5 hours.

If you come from Akita, it takes around 2.75 hours by limited express Tsugaru (つがる).

A List of JR Passes that Covers Aomori Prefecture

Below is a list of JR passes covering Aomori Prefecture and other regions. Please keep in mind that depending on your itinerary, a JR pass may or may not be worthwhile for your trip. You can estimate the transportation cost using Google Maps and compare the total price to a JR pass.

By Airplane

Flying into Aomori is another option. But please note from Aomori Airport (青森空港) to Aomori Station, it takes around 40 minutes by bus.

  • From Tokyo: around 1.5 hours
  • From Osaka: around 1.75 hours
  • From Sapporo: around 45 minutes
  • From Nagoya: around 1.25 hours

Aomori Shuttle de Route Bus – Nebutan-gō (あおもりシャトルdeルートバス ねぶたん号)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Whether you are arriving at JR Aomori Station or JR Shin-Aomori Station, a convenient way to get around the attractions in the city center is by taking the sightseeing bus Nebutan-gō.

The only thing to watch out for if you want to ride this bus is the limited number of services. So, keep an eye on your time when you explore Aomori!

Refer to HERE for the timetable for the service.

The Bus Fare of Aomori Shuttle de Route Bus – Nebutan-gō

  • Per ride:
    • 300 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for elementary school students
  • 1-Day Pass
    • 700 yen for adults
    • 350 yen for elementary school students
  • 2-Day Pass
    • 800 yen for adults
    • 400 yen for elementary school students

Tip: Get a 1-Day or 2-Day Bus Pass to save on transportation costs. With the ticket, you will also get discounts or souvenirs at major attractions the bus stops at! You can get the bus pass either on the bus or from the tourist information center from JR Aomori Station (at the east exit), JR Shin-Aomori Station (on the 2nd floor), or ASPAM’s information counter on the 1st floor.

Nebuta Museum WA RASSE (ねぶたの家 ワ・ラッセ)

Different from its stylish and modern looks, the Nebuta Museum WA RASSE is a facility for one of Japan’s representative festivals that has a long history, the Aomori Nebuta Festival ( 青森ねぶた祭り).

You must have seen the floats that appear in Japanese festivals. In Aomori, however, the gigantic lantern floats were built to convey a scene in well-known legends or historic characters instead of in the shape of portable shrines. These floats are called ‘Nubuta’ in Aomori.

Ⓒ ねぶたの家 ワ・ラッセ
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

In 2011, the Nebuta Museum WA RASSE was opened to display these colorful and powerful-looking floats, so no matter when you visit Aomori, you get to be amazed by the festival full of energy!

In the museum, you will discover the origin and history of the Nebuta and Nebuta Festival. You can also learn the Haneto Dance that is danced during the festival.

For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.

The average time spent in the museum is around 30 – 60 minutes.

Tip: If you want to join the Haneto Dance, check with the staff to see if it is still possible to re-enter the museum on the same day. You can visit other attractions nearby and come back for the dance session.

Nebuta Museum WA RASSE’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 7 pm from May to August. From September to April, it closes early at 6 pm.
    • The last admission is 30 minutes before the closing time.
    • The museum is closed on the 9th and the 10th of August and the 31st of December, and the 1st of January.
  • The admission fee is
    • 620 yen for adults
    • 460 yen for senior high school students
    • 260 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • You can also get a combo ticket for access to Seikan Train Ferry Memorial Ship Hakkōda-maru (青函連絡船メモリアルシップ八甲田丸) and/or Aomori Prefecture Tourism Information Center ASPAM (青森県観光物産館アスパム). Please refer to HERE for more information.
  • Nebuta Museum WA RASSE is just a one-minute walk away from JR Aomori Station (青森駅).

Tip: If you are driving, you will get 60 minutes of free parking if you park at their car park. Please bring your admission ticket and parking ticket to the reception.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

A-FACTORY (エーファクトリー)

A-FACTORY is a shopping complex opposite Nebuta Museum. The facility is filled with apple-themed products and has almost all of Aomori’s specialties. Located really close to Aomori Station, it is the perfect place for some last-minute souvenir shopping.

It is also a factory making apple cedar and soda. Through the glass panel, you can see the brewing process of cider. And don’t just stand there and look. Head to the Tasting Bar on the second floor to find out your favorite cedar!

Apart from apples, Aomori also produces the most garlic in Japan. The quality of the garlic from Takko Town (田子町) is very high. So you will find many nicely wrapped garlic products here as well.

The souvenir shop on the first floor has many products that many will struggle to decide what to buy. As most of them can’t be tasted on the spot, here are our recommendations.

Our Recommended Shopping List at A-FACTORY

  • Apple tea bags
  • Apple juice: squeezed from the whole apple keeping the original flavor of the apples nicely
  • Snow-stored apple and the related products (Yuki chozō, 雪貯蔵): Basically, the apples were stored in the snow instead of in a fridge. Not sure what difference that makes, but the apples just taste more delicious
  • Apple pie: full of the rich and nice fragrance of apples with a slight cinnamon scent
  • Apple gelato: made from Aomori’s apple that you can taste the fiber
  • Garlic crackers: if you like garlic, it will be hard to stop eating it

Tip: As the items in the shop can’t be tasted, what you can do instead is to buy the smaller bottle of juice/alcohol, and if you like it, you can bring more home (^_-)-☆.

Winter Events in front at A-FACTORY

In winter, come to A-FACTORY at night. Instead of the stylist Christmas/winter lighting, around 500 lit-up snowmen made from Washi paper are placed in front of the facility.

The event is called Aomori Light and Paper Pageant (あおもり灯りと紙のページェント). The snowman lanterns are made with the same technique as the giant Nebuta floats. They all come from the hands of Aomori citizens, which is why each one of them is so unique!

  • The 2022/2023 event is from the 9th of December 2022 to the 12th of February 2023.
  • Also, from the 3rd to the 5th of February2023, the Aomori Snow Light Festival (Aomori Yuki Akari Matsuri, あおもり雪灯りまつり) will be on.

A-FACTORY’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Business hours are from 9 am to 8 pm (individual shops/restaurants’ business hours can differ).
  • It is less than a 5-minute walk from Aomori Station.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Seikan Train Ferry Memorial Ship Hakkōda-maru (青函連絡船メモリアルシップ八甲田丸)

Back in the good old days, when Hokkaidō wasn’t connected to Japan’s main island Hōnshu, the only way to get to Hokkaidō was by ferry (airplanes didn’t come into the picture until later on as well). This led to the birth of the ferry route, the Seikan Route, which was used for 80 years from 1908.

The Seikan Ferry (青函連絡船) was how the then national railway, Japan Railway, carried its customers between Aomori (Station/Port) and Hakodate (Station/Port). The ferry service operated on the 113 km Seikan Route (青函航路).

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Up until 1988, 55 Seikan Ferries transported around 160 million passengers and 250 tones of freights.

Hakkōda-maru, which had been in service since 1964, was the Seikan Ferry that has operated the longest (23 years and 7 months). It is also the last Seikan Ferry in history. After reaching Aomori Port in March 1988, it was permanently moored and turned into a Seikan Ferry Museum in 1990.

Inside Hakkōda-maru

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Strolling around the entire ferry that has a total of 5 levels, including the underdeck engine room, will probably only take you less than 60 minutes.

One of the most fascinating exhibits is the postal train carriage displayed on the first-floor deck. As rare as it is, the ferry has a space to transport railroad vehicles!

A ticket is required to get to the museum on the third floor. In the museum, you will see tools that were used at the time when the ferry was in service. Humanoids are also used to show Aomori citizens’ lifestyles in the 1950s and 1960s. The museum’s highlight is probably models of various Seikan Ferries, historical documentation, and photographs of the history of the Seikan Route.

From the top floor of the ferry, you can get a panoramic view of Aomori Port (closed in winter).

Other parts of the ferry open to the public include the Green Cabin (the equivalent of the green carriage on a bullet train), sleeper room, meeting rooms, and captain’s room.

A similar facility is moored at Hakodate Port if you have been to Hakodate. Together with the Hakodate City Seikan Train Ferry Memorial Museum Mashū-maru (函館市青函連絡船紀念館摩周丸), your understanding of the history of the Seikan Route will be complete!

Seikan Train Ferry Memorial Ship Hakkōda-maru’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The opening hours are from
    • 9 am to 7 pm from April to October
    • 9 am to 5 pm from November to March
    • The last admission is at 6 pm in the summer months and at 4:30 pm from November to March.
  • It closes on Mondays between November and March.
    • If Monday is a public holiday, it will close on the next business day.
  • It also closes on the weekdays on the 2nd week of March.
  • The admission fee is
    • 510 yen for adults
    • 310 yen for high school students
    • 110 yen for elementary school students
  • The museum is less than a 5-minute walk.

Tip: Refer to the combo ticket information under Nebuta Museum WA RASSE’s admission fee section HERE to save.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Aomori Prefecture Tourism Information Center ASPAM (青森県観光物産館アスパム)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Another place close to Aomori Station where you can find plenty of local specialties is ASPAM. It is an equilateral triangle building imaging the “A” of Aomori.

The 15-story building is the base of the prefecture’s tourism information center. Apart from the souvenir corners, a 360 degrees 3D theater also showcases Aomori’s alluring scenery throughout the year.

At the activity corner, you can observe a craftsman demonstrating the Kogin Sashi (こぎん刺し), which is a type of embroidery technique used in the Tsugaru region. If you are interested, please refer to the list of menus HERE that you can choose from for the craftsman to make in front of you. You can translate the webpage to English by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.

The 13th floor of ASPAM is the observatory floor that gives you a clear view of the city center with the Hakkōda Mountains afar. When the sky isn’t cloudy, you might be able to see as far as Hakodate in Hokkaidō!

As a side note, ASPAM stands for Aomori, Sightseeing, Products, and Mansion. The second A in ASPAM is there, so when you pronounce it in English, it sounds like how a Japanese would produce it.

Aomori Prefecture Tourism Information Center ASPAM’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The information center and souvenir shops are open from 9 am to 7 pm.
  • The 3D theater is currently open from 10 am to 5:15 pm.
    • The last show is at 5 pm.
  • The observatory’s opening hours are currently shortened to 9 am to 7 pm.
  • ASPAM is around an 8-minute walk from Aomori Station.
  • If you are coming from JR Shin-Aomori Station, take the Nebutan-go (ねぶたん号) from bus stop no. 3 at the east exit
  • The admission fee for the 3D theater and the observatory is
    • Both facilities
      • 850 yen for adults
      • 650 yen for high school students
      • 450 yen for elementary school students
    • 3D theater
      • 650 yen for adults
      • 500 yen for high school students
      • 350 yen for elementary school students
    • Observatory
      • 400 yen for adults
      • 300 yen for high school students
      • 200 yen for elementary school students

Tip: Refer to the combo ticket information under Nebuta Museum WA RASSE’s admission fee section HERE to save.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Utou Shrine (善知鳥神社)

Utou Shrine is said to be the origin of Aomori City. Before the population of the city grew in the early days, the area was known as Utou Village (善知鳥村).

Utou is the Japanese name for Rhinoceros auklet. Back then, Aomori had a large Rhinoceros auklet colony (although none can be seen now). This was why the village was named Utou.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

When the 19th Emperor of Japan – Ingyō (允恭天皇), was reigning in Japan from 410 to 453, the shrine was established as the guardian shrine of the village, and Sanjoshin (三女神) was enshrined here. She is the daughter of the top god of Japan – Amaterasu-Ōmikami (天照大神).

The first rebuild of the shrine on record was in 807. Since then, the shrine has suffered from fire hazards and has been damaged by wars. Fortunately, due to its pilgrims’ support, the shrines’ buildings could be repaired.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Utou Shrine also has a small but gorgeous garden with many carps and a few turtles swimming freely in the pond. When you walk by, they might even follow you (if they think they can get a feed from you, that is)!

In summer, the lotus flowers will bloom, making the pond more colorful and delightful.

If you want to feed the fish/turtles, check with the shrine’s office to see if they are still selling fish feed. But please refrain from feeding the birds.

The shrine is also known as the playground of Munakata Shikō (棟方 志功), who was a well-known painter in the Shōwa period (1926 – 1989).

As the shrine isn’t big, most people only spend around 15 minutes here.

Utou Shrine’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The shrine can be accessed 24 hours a day. But the shrine office is only open from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • From Aomori Station (青森駅), it is around a 10-minute walk.
  • From ASPAM, it is less than a 10-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Aomori City Forestry Museum (青森市森林博物館)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Aomori City Forestry Museum was the building of the Aomori Forestry Bureau from 1908 until the late 1970s. As the Bureau was getting a new building as one of the projects commemorating the 80th anniversary of the enforcement of the city system, the old building was transformed and opened as a forestry museum in November 1982.

The exhibits in the museum are quite interactive, making it easy for amateurs to understand deep forestry, the hinoki wood produced in Aomori Prefecture, and the importance of forests.

What is also on display are the vehicles running on the Tsugaru Forest Railway in the past century. The carriages are now certified forestry heritages.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The only thing about the museum is the lack of English explanations. Almost all descriptions and notes about the exhibits are in Japanese only.

So, it is probably a place for those interested in architecture from the Meiji period (1868 – 1912). Not only its appearance, the interior of the building still largely reflects what it looked like a century ago.

Aomori City Forestry Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm. From November to March, it closes early, at 4:30 pm.
    • It closes on Mondays and from the 28th of December to the 4th of January.
    • If Monday is a public holiday, it will close on the next business day.
  • The admission fee is
    • 250 yen for adults
    • 130 yen for high school and university students
    • Free otherwise and for elderly who are 70 years old and above
  • From JR Aomori Station’s (青森駅) west exit, it is around a 10-minute walk. You can also take Nogiwa Danchi (野木和団地) and Ushirogata (後潟) Lines that are bound for Abura River (油川) and get off at Shinrin Hakubutsukan-mae (森林博物館前) from bus stop no. 6.
  • From Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅)’s bus stop no. 1 at the south exit, take buses bound for the city center (市中心部)/Kenritsu Chūō Byōin (県立中央病院) and get off at Nishi Kami Furukawa (西上古川). From there, it is around a 13-minute walk.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Aomori Prefectural Museum (青森県立郷土館)

Important: Aomori Prefectural Museum is temporarily closed.

Not too far from ASPAM, the Aomori Prefectural Museum was founded for visitors to think about the future after looking back on the prefecture’s history and what is happening at present.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The museum aims to make it easy for anyone to understand the history and nature of Aomori Prefecture. You can find out about Aomori’s archeology, nature, history, and folklore through dioramas, models, and audiovisual images.

Special exhibitions will be held in the museum as well.

For more information about what is on display, please refer to their website HERE.

The museum used to be the main branch of the Former Aomori Bank. The building that was completed in 1931 was gifted to the prefecture in 1969.

If you don’t have time to visit the World Heritage Site, Sannai Maruyama Special Historic Site, you can stop by this museum to get a degree of understanding of the Jōmon civilization.

There is also a corner for you to find out about Aomori’s most well-known specialty – Apples! It is just amazing how many different kinds of apples there are out there!

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟
Ⓒ ⼀般社団法⼈東北観光推進機構

Aomori Prefectural Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • For the museum’s opening hours, admission fees, and access information, please refer to their website HERE.
    • On top of the opening hours information on their English website, the museum will also close on the days that are marked in blue color with “休館日” written on the calendar on their Japanese website HERE.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Munakata Shikō Memorial Hall (棟方志功記念館)

Munakata Shikō born in Aomori City was a well-known woodblock printmaker in the Shōwa period. Born as the third son of a Swordsmith family, he wasn’t interested in making swords but was inspired by the artworks of Vincent van Gogh, which made him aim to become a Western-style painter.

The artist who was active globally won several international awards during his 50s. This subsequently led to his recognition by the Japanese government in 1970 when he was awarded the Order of Culture (文化勲章), which is the highest honor in the arts field that a Japanese can obtain.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The international awards he was awarded include the “Prize of Excellence” at the Second International Print Exhibition in Lugano, Switzerland in 1952, the first prize at the São Paulo Bienal Exhibition in Brazil in 1955, followed by the Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale in 1956.

In 1975, the same year that he passed away, this memorial hall was opened to commemorate his achievement and exhibit his artworks.

The Artworks Exhibited in Munakata Shikō Memorial Hall

Inside the memorial hall, you will find a wide range of his works, such as woodblock prints, oil paintings, and calligraphy, making it the facility with the largest collection of Shikō Munakata’s works in Japan.

As the space in the exhibition room is limited, instead of cramping all the collections that the memorial hall holds, only a part are on display.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Although it is a shame that we can’t appreciate all of the collections in one go, this enables us to examine his work one by one closely. What is on display is changed four times a year. Along with the artworks, materials such as the tools he used are also exhibited.

If you want to know what artworks are on display before your visit, refer to their website HERE.

Tip: The average time visitors spend at Shikō Munakata Memorial Hall is around 30 to 90 minutes (depending on if you are interested in a video of Shikō Munakata, which lasts 38 minutes).

Munakata Shikō Memorial Hall’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The memorial hall is usually open from 9 am to 5 pm. But from November to March, it opens late at 9:30 am.
    • It closes on Mondays but will open on public holidays and between Nebuta Festival from the 2nd to the 7th of August.
    • Please also refer to their calendar HERE for other days that the museum will be closed.
  • The admission fee is
    • 550 yen for adults
    • 300 yen for university students
    • 200 yen for high school students
    • Free otherwise
  • From JR Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅) or JR Aomori Station (青森駅).
    • Take Nebutan-gō (ねぶたん号) and get off at Munakata Shiko Kinenkan-mae (棟方志功記念館).
  • From JR Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅), you can also take the local bus from bus stop no. 1 bound for either Tōbu Eigyōjo (東部営業所) or Kenritsu Chūō Byōin (県立中央病院) and get off at Tsutsumi-bashi (堤橋).
    • From the bus stop, it is a 10-minute walk.
  • From JR Aomori Station (青森駅), you can take
    • Yokouchi Loop Line (横内環状線) or services bound for Tsutsumi-bashi (堤橋) from bus stop no. 3 and get off at Munakata Shikō Kinenkan-dōri (棟方志功記念館通り).
      • From the bus stop, it is less than a 4-minute walk.
    • There are also other services that you can take. Please check with the station staff when you get there.

Tip: Show your ticket to the Aomori Museum of Art to get a discount for your admission ticket at the memorial hall.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Aomori Museum of Art (青森県立美術館)

If you like to spend time in art galleries and museums, take a bus to the Aomori Museum of Art.

The museum, which is on the ground of the Sannai Maruyama Special Historical Site (三内丸山遺跡), is one of the top art museums in the northern Tohoku region (another facility that goes hand in hand with it is the Towada Art Center in Towada City).

For more information about the fascinating artworks that the museum is exhibiting, please refer to our article on the Aomori Museum of Art!


Sannai Maruyama Special Historical Site (三内丸山遺跡)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

While the world was panicking about the once-of-a-lifetime pandemic, in March 2021, Aomori Prefecture proudly welcomed another world heritage title.

The Sannai Maruyama Special Historical Site completely overturned the understanding of the Jōmon civilization, was registered as a part of Jōmon Prehistoric Sites in Northern Japan (北海道・北東北の縄文遺跡群) as a World Heritage.

For more information about this World Heritage site, please refer to our article on the Sannai Maruyama Special Historical Site!

Gappo Park (合浦公園)

Seeking an off-the-beaten-path in Aomori for cherry blossom and autumn foliage scenery? Come to Gappo Park!

When the 670 cherry trees are blossoming (usually from late April to early May), the Aomori Spring Festival at Gappo Park is held. Temporary stalls will take care of your stomach, and underneath the cherry trees, lanterns will be set up during the festival period and lit up at night to prolong the amount of time you can adore the gorgeous scenery (*´ω`).

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Other than cherry blossoms, wisterias will also be blooming from mid-May to early June.

As a seaside park, the beach shore is open for water activities in the summer (from late July to late August). From late October to early November, the fall color in the park will be at its peak. No wonder the park was chosen to be one of the Top 100 Parks in the City in 1989!

Gappo Park was first completed in 1894. In the middle of the park, there is also a strolling Japanese garden with a tea room called Gappo-tei (合浦亭).

Aomori Spring Festival Event Details

  • From the 13th to the 30th of April in 2023.
    • The information center is open from 8:30 am to 7 pm.
  • Nighttime light-up is from 6 pm to 11 pm.
  • For future events, you can refer to the official website HERE and translate it to English using Google Chrome’s translation function.

Tip: During the spring festival, check with the information center to see if they can still temporarily keep your belongings for you.

How to Get to Gappo Park

From Aomori Station’s (青森駅) bus stop no. 2, take services bound for the below destinations and get off at Gappo Park (Gappo Kōen, 合浦公園).

  • Tōbu Eigyōjo (東部営業所)
  • Asamushi Onsen-eki (浅虫温泉駅)
  • Kenritsu Chūō Byōin (県立中央病院)

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Showa Daibutsu (昭和大仏)

Ⓒ ⼀般社団法⼈東北観光推進機構

Away from the city center, Japan’s largest bronze sitting Buddha statue is quietly sitting in the precinct of Seiryū-ji Temple (青龍寺).

The statue of Vairocana (大日如来), built in 1984, has a weight of 220 tons and a height of 21.35 meters (27 meters if the pedestal is included). Compared to other Buddha statues, Showa Daibutsu has gorgeous decorations on his body.

Inside the Buddha statue is a hall for visitors to offer prayers for a peaceful afterlife for the soldiers who passed away in past wars. It is now a place for anyone to pray for world peace.

Also, on the first floor, there is a painting with both the Pure Land and hell painted.

The statue is at the far back of the temple’s spacious ground. You must first walk past other temples’ buildings and statues to get there.

Seiryū-ji’s Pagoda

Seiryū-ji was founded by Oda Ryūkō (織田隆弘) in 1982 as a branch of Kōyasan (高野山).

The wooden pagoda made of Aomori’s hinoki wood has a height of 39.35 meters, making it the 4th highest wooden pagoda in Japan.

Miraculously, the pagoda completed in 1996 wasn’t destroyed by natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, and fire hazards. Even the earthquake of a magnitude of 8.9 that happened in 2011 didn’t manage to knock it down!

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Apparently, this is all thanks to the quality of the Hinoki wood and the seismic isolation structure the building was built with.

Seiryū-ji’s Kondō Hall (金堂)

Kondō is the center of Seiryū-ji.

What you also can’t miss out on is the painting that illustrates the scene where Amida Buddha welcomes the holy spirits to the Pure Land (阿弥陀聖衆来迎大絵図) and the statue where Amida Buddha turns his head (みかえり阿弥陀像). They are both the treasures of Seiryū-ji.

When people talk about holy spirits, it might sound like something really far away from us. But in Pure Land Buddhism, holy spirits are something that any of us can become.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Of course, there are criteria. Suppose you are a kind person who has done many good deeds and has a strong will to be born into the Pure Land (of course, you must believe in the existence of the Pure Land first). In that case, Amida Buddha will come and pick you up and guide you to the Pure Land, where you will have eternal life and enjoy eternal joy.

What is the statue that Amida Buddha turns his head trying to convey?

The Buddha turned his head because he heard some noise coming from that direction while explaining the truth of the world/universe. So he asked, are there any latecomers who missed out on the Dharma talk earlier?

With his head turning left, it is showing us Amida Buddha’s kindness and consideration that he has towards all creatures.

Shōjin Ryōri (精進料理) at Seiryū-ji

From April to October, if you are with a group of 5 or more, you can reserve to enjoy the vegetarian monk cuisine at the temple.

On top of the meal, you can also enjoy traditional dry confectionary and a bowl of matcha green tea.

The session that starts at 11:15 am will cost 4,200 yen per person. This usually includes listening to the Dharma talk from the monk. Obviously, if you don’t understand Japanese, you can check with the temple to see if this can be skipped or replaced with a zen session.

To reserve, please give the temple a call at +81-17-726-2312 at least 1 week in advance. If you don’t speak Japanese and won’t be visiting the temple until later in your trip, you can see if the staff at your hotel on your first night can make the reservation on your behalf.

For some photos of the lunch session, refer to the temple’s website HERE.

How to Get to Showa Daibutsu

  • The temple is open from 8 am to 5:30 pm and will close early at 4:30 pm from November to March.
  • The admission fee is
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 200 yen for elementary to high school students
  • From Aomori Station (青森駅)’s bus stop no. 3, take buses bound for Kuwabara (桑原) or Showa Daibutsu (昭和大仏) and get off at Kuwabara or Showa Daibutsu.
    • From the bus stop Kuwabara, it is less than a 10-minute walk to the temple.
    • The bus trip will take around 45 minutes.
    • For the service’s timetable, you can refer to the official website’s left menu HERE.
    • The first table is for weekdays. The second table is for weekends and public holidays. Both are bound for Showa Daibutsu. The third table is for buses bound for Kuwabara.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Namioka Castle Ruins (浪岡城跡)

A spot that is unlikely to be packed for cherry blossom is Namioka Castle Ruins. Just a couple of stations away from Aomori Station, the cherry trees will be blooming beautifully in early spring.

You can also snap a photo of cherry blossom with the snow-capped Mt. Iwaki, the Mt. Fuji in the Tsugaru region, as a backdrop!

The castle was built by Namioka Kitabatake (浪岡北畠) in the 1460s. The castle and its castle town reached their peak in the first half of the 16th century when communication with Kyoto was frequent. Many religious and cultural facilities were built at the time.

However, from 1562, the power of the Namioka clan started to decline originally due to conflicts within the clan. In 1578, the castle was taken down by Tsugaru Tamenobu (津軽為信). Since then, for around 400 years, the castle ruins were used to cultivate rice and other crops.

In February 1945, Namioka Castle Ruines became the first property designated as a National Historic Site in Aomori Prefecture. Then in April 2017, it was chosen to be one of the Top 100 Japanese Castles – Continued Version by the Japanese Castles Association.

The research that started In 1977 has excavated more than 50,000 relics such as tableware, cooking utensils, weapons, and religious tools. If you are interested, you can stop by the museum on its wide ground of 136,300 square meters.

Namioka Castle Ruins’ Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The Information Center is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily except Mondays and the 3rd Sunday.
    • If Monday is a public holiday, it will close on the next business day.
    • It closes from December to March.
  • Entry is free.
  • It is a 30-minute walk from JR Namioka Station (浪岡駅).

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions in Aomori City.

Asamushi Onsen (浅虫温泉)

Click the photo to find out more about the unique onsen town!

When you arrive at Aomori, if you are looking for a destination where you can enjoy the nice hot springs of Japan, indulge in abundant negative ions in the forest, and some magnificent ocean views, take a short train ride to Asamushi Onsen, northeast of Aomori’s city center!

For more information, please refer to our article on Asamushi Onsen (=゚ω゚)ノ


Hakkōda Mountains (八甲田山)

Hakkōda Mountains (八甲田山) – a collective name of 16 peaks is known for some of the most breath-taking natural scenery in the country. Not letting the fame of one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains down, as you trek through the mountain trails, you will definitely be amazed by the astonishing views along the way no matter which season of the year you visit it!

For more information, please refer to our article on Hakkōda Mountains (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click the photo to find out more about this stunning part of Japan!

The Must-Try Local Specialties at Aomori City

When you come to Aomori, if you aren’t as strict with your vegetarian diet and don’t mind seafood broth, here are the two dishes you must try!

Oden with Ginger-Infused Miso Paste (生姜味噌おでん)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Oden is a dish commonly found in Japan’s stalls and restaurants, especially in winter. It is a type of hot pot consisting of several ingredients such as eggs, radish, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth.

Unfortunately, it is still very hard to find an Oden cooked with only vegetarian ingredients and broth in Japan. But suppose you go to a stall or restaurant specialising in making Oden, you will be ordering each ingredient separately, making it easier only to order a bowl of Oden that only consists of vegetables, tofu, and mushrooms (obviously still cooked in seafood broth).

But if you are like us, who aren’t so strict with the diet when you travel, give the Oden dish a try in Aomori that comes with the special ginger-infused miso paste. The dish was only invented after World War Two mainly to keep the customers who were waiting to board the Seikan Ferry warm.

The taste is so nice that it has become a local specialty since then!

Miso Curry Milk Ramen (味噌カレー牛乳ラーメン)

The second dish special to Aomori is a bowl of miso-based ramen topped with curry powder and milk.

Again, the broth most likely contains seafood extracts. But, if that is okay with you, give the ramen a try!

The soup with an exquisite balance of curry, milk, and miso was invented by high school students!

When you head to a ramen restaurant, remember to ask them to exclude the Chashu pork or other meat and seafood that the restaurant has decided to put on top of the bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and seaweed.

If you struggle with communication, you can utilize the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article.

Festivals at Aomori

Aomori Nebuta Festival (青森ねぶた祭)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

From the 2nd to the 7th of August, one of the Three Great Festivals of Tōhoku (東北3大祭り) is held in Aomori City. The festival attracts as many as 3 million visitors to participate in this festival full of energy.

Many more large floats similar to the ones in Nebuta Museum WA RASSE will be parading around the city center. Also, on the last day of the festival, fireworks will be launched at the seashore of Aomori.

For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.

The other two Three Great Festivals of Tōhoku are the Akita Kantō Festival (竿燈まつり) and the Sendai Tanabata Festival (仙台七夕まつり), all taking place at the beginning of August each year.

Aomori Snow Light Festival (あおもり雪灯りまつり)

In the midst of freezing cold weather in Aomori, to make people feel a bit of warmth, the Aomori Snow Light Festival is an event where the citizens put their handmade lanterns and candles on the white snow to light up the cold winter nights.

The atmosphere created by the lighting of the lanterns and candles fascinates many visitors each year who stop by the event venue close to Nebuta Museum WA RASSE each year.

As a tourist, you can color and write your wishes on one of the candle holders and place it along with the lanterns made by the creative citizens of Aomori.

In 2023, the festival will be held from the 3rd to the 5th of February from 5 pm to 9 pm.

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