Aomori, Japan’s main island’s northmost prefecture, is filled with stunning landscapes and volcanic mountain ranges. In addition to its many off-the-beaten-path scenic destinations, it is also culturally rich and features two of the country’s best art museums. Read on and discover the top 12 places to visit when you visit Aomori!
- Hakkōda Mountains (八甲田山)
- Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流)
- Lake Towada (十和田湖)
- Towada Art Center (十和田市現代美術館)
- Aomori Museum of Art (青森県立美術館)
- Hirosaki (弘前)
- Mt. Osore (恐山)
- Inakadate Village Rice Field Art (田舎館村田んぼアート)
- Mt. Iwaki (岩木山)
- Mt. Shirakami (白神山地)
- Jūniko Lake (十二湖)
- Tanesashi Coast (種差海岸)
Hakkōda Mountains (八甲田山)
The Hakkōda Mountain Range is a great place for hiking in the summer and skiing and snowboarding in the winter. The nature in the area is alluring in all seasons and definitely worth exploring. Be sure to stop by the scenic ponds between the Sukayu Onsen and the Tsuta Onsen. Some of these nine ponds are connected by a walking promenade, which will be an amazing side trip when visiting the area!
For more information, please refer to our article on Hakkōda Mountains.
Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流)
The Oirase Gorge is known as one of the most scenic spots in Japan. The 14 km gorge contains beautiful untouched nature. With virgin forests, mossy rocks, rivers, streams, and waterfalls, you won’t want to leave this natural wonderland at the end of your trip!
For more information, please refer to our Oirase Gorge article.
Lake Towada (十和田湖)
You will encounter Lake Towada at the end of your trip to Oirase Gorge. The lake was formed over 200,00 years ago by volcanic eruptions.
You can enjoy various recreational activities and watersports around the gorgeous lake, including kayaking and camping. Hiking or cycling to one of the lookouts scattered in the mountains around Lake Towada is another must-do thing when you stop by the stunning lake.
For more information, please refer to our article on Lake Towada.
Towada Art Center (十和田市現代美術館)
We have mentioned a couple of amazing natural spots to visit in Aomori so far, many of which are off the beaten path. But there are also some great art centers and museums in the prefecture that are worth exploring.
The Towada Art Center is a modern museum that is unique in that only one piece of art is displayed in each exhibit room. With artworks from famous artists, such as Ron Mueck and Yayoi Kusama, you will surely find the museum astonishing.
Be sure to stop by the courtyard, write down a wish on paper and hang it on the apple tree. The wishes on the tree are sent to the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland. How cool is that?
For more information, please refer to our article on Towada City.
Aomori Museum of Art (青森県立美術館)
The other must-see art museum in Aomori is the Aomori Museum of Art. It has many impressive artworks on display, including the paintings by Marc Chagall.
For more information, please refer to our Aomori Museum of Art article.
This city is filled with beautiful architecture, Japanese or Western. It is also famous for apples and produces the most apples anywhere in Japan.
If you love attending festivals, you will want to visit Hirosaki for one or all of the big four festivals held in each season.
For more information, please refer to our article on Hirosaki City.
Mt. Osore (恐山)
Mt. Osore may be a little difficult to get to, but it is definitely worth the effort. Known as “the world after death,” you must cross the Sanzunokawa River to the Osore-zan Bodai-ji Temple. According to Japanese folklore, the deceased cross this river to enter the afterlife.
While the Japanese visit the temple to get closer to their beloved ones, the nature at Mt. Osore is absolutely breathtaking. So be sure you bring your camera!
For more information, please refer to our article on Mt. Osore.
Inakadate Village Rice Field Art (田舎館村田んぼアート)
Have you ever heard of rice field art? They are large drawings formed by different rice varieties and are quite the spectacle!
While rice field art can now be seen across Japan, it was started in Inakadate Village, where you can view this spectacular artwork in two venues.
For more information, please refer to our article on Inakadate Village Rice Field Art.
Mt. Iwaki (岩木山)
Mt. Iwaki is the highest peak in Aomori Prefecture and is known as Tsugaru’s Mt. Fuji. While there are several mountain trails to the summit, many choose the bus plus gondola ride option, which only takes around 30 minutes to get to the top! Easily accessible and stunning!
For more information about this easily accessible but spectacular mountain, please refer to our Mt. Iwaki article.
Mt. Shirakami (白神山地)
Mt Shirakami is an 8,000-year-old mountainous area that is a designated World Heritage Site and houses the world’s largest virgin beech forest. With hiking trails and magnificent waterfalls, Mt. Shirakami is a mecca for nature lovers and hikers.
For more information, please refer to our Mt. Shirakami article.
Jūniko Lake (十二湖)
The Jūniko Lake area is a part of Mt. Shirakami. Unlike the beech forest area at the east, this area features multiple picturesque lakes and ponds with every color of blue you can imagine!
In winter, you can even rent boots and snowshoes for some awesome snow hiking in the area.
For more information about this part of Mt. Shirakami, including accommodation options, please refer to our Jūniko Lake article.
Tanesashi Coast (種差海岸)
After introducing so many splendid spots in the deep mountains, how about a change and heading to the coast?
The Tanesashi Coast in Hachinohe City is not your typical beach. Instead of sand, a natural lawn spreads the 12km coastline. The area is designated as a National Place of Scenery Beauty and has more than 650 species of plants blooming along the shoreline from spring until fall!
For more information, please refer to our Tanesashi Coast article.