People who hold a bit of knowledge of Aomori prefecture will most likely have heard about the famous Hirosaki City. What they might not know or hear of is its sister-like city – Kuroishi (黒石市) that prospered with Hirosaki city as Hirosaki Castle’s castle town.
The residents of Kuroishi city are proud of the number of historical and cultural assets that the city owns. They even branded themselves as a lived-in museum. Instead of ones which cram all showpieces into a small building, with various local shops specialising in different traditional folk arts and historical architecture here and there, the city itself is a museum! They even have a smaller version of Kyoto’s Arashiyama, called Ko-Arashiyama (≧▽≦).
Akō (赤穂) is a rural city that isn’t too far away from the most elegant castle in Japan – Himeji Castle. Whilst it is certainly not a top must-see destination in Japan, it does have its own charm. One of the top 100 Castles in Japan is located not too far away from the major train station in the city. In spring, it is the place that you want to be there for its beautiful cherry blossom in the coastal area with moderate crowds.
Hiraizumi town (平泉町), once Kyoto’s rival for its refined culture and elegant surroundings in the 12th century, still retains its charm and traces of former greatness. If you are after a cultural and scenery feast, it is the destination that you don’t want to miss!
Apart from the famous Chūsonji Temple (中尊寺) and the Motsuji Temple (毛越寺), also discover the Takkoku Saikoji Temple – Bishamondō (達谷窟毘沙門堂) that has a huge Buddha image carved on the cliff wall in its grounds.