Would you like to enjoy the snow to the fullest? Then come to Aomori this winter, and it would surly warm your body and soul by offering you a wide range of recreational outdoor winter activities and stunning snow festivals. Lots of snow falls throughout Aomori prefecture as it is the northernmost tip of Honshu (Japan’s main island). During the winter months, excellent dry powder snow on the slopes of the Hakkoda Mountains let you enjoy skiing and snowboarding. I absolutely admire the winter atmosphere that Aomori offers not only for world-class skiing opportunity or other winter outdoor activities but there is much more than that.
Here you are going to discover everything that amuses me the most in Aomori during winter. Its breathtaking winter vistas, snow festivals, hot springs & ski resorts, historical landmarks, and local cuisine would definitely make you understand why it is so diverse and worth a visit in winter. You know what for experiencing a unique and exciting winter adventure you must visit Aomori. Accessing to most of the tourist spots is fairly easy. However, let’s take a look at the best things you could do and see in Aomori during winter. I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading it.
1) Pick and Eat Fukaura Yuki-Ninjin
During autumn, apple picking in Aomori is absolutely enjoying and fascinating, and yes nothing could beat it. However, that’s a part of fruit picking but this time you are not going to do that instead you should be ready to pick some vegetable. Guess what? It’s Fukaura Yuki-Ninjin (Snow Carrot). It is kind of a sweet carrot. The taste of a single Yuki Ninjin is very sweet, yeah sweeter than usual. If you want to know how this variety of carrot was introduced then read this post.
If you love outdoor adventures, you simply must travel to Fukaura town, located in southwestern Aomori prefecture. There you can have freshly picked Yuki-Ninjin. Do it yourself with the guidance of the farmers and have some fun picking juicy sweet carrots. Usually they are harvested in mid-winter when heavy snowfall is expected. And it is believed that before consumption they are left for two or three days after harvesting to make the carrots slightly sweeten. Are you interested in this unique winter activity? Please visit this page and check out the time, fees and location.
2) Explore the Showa Daibutsu at Seiryu-Ji
Embark on a trip to Seiryu-ji (a Buddhist temple in Aomori city) and discover how everything looks like in winter. The one big reason why people decide to visit Seiryu-Ji is for the giant Show Daibutsu. It is about 2,135 meters tall and recognized as the largest seated bronze statue of Buddha in Japan. The winter view of the statue reminds me of the greatest Kamakura Daibutsu. It is so impressive that it will take a long time to forget your Showa Daibutsu travel experience. Apart from visiting this historic sacred Buddha statue you should pay visit to the beautiful 5 story pagoda, the garden and the main hall of Seiryu-Ji temple. A visit to this temple grounds in winter would fill your heart with endless joys.
3) Lake Towada Winter Story – What?!
Does it sound like a fairy tale? Whatever it is – the real fact is that the atmosphere you see there is truly magical and just like a real fairy tale. Lake Towada Winter Story is a winter festival, held every year in February and celebrated almost a month at the Yasumiya area of Towada lakeside. Often it is said to be one of the top winter festivals in the Tohoku region.
Night illumination, fireworks display, snow statues, Japanese igloo (kamakura) bar, snow slides, foot bath, local cuisines of Aomori & Akita, fabulous Namahage performance, and live stage performances of Tsugaru shamisen are the main highlights of this festival. These are what a winter festival is all about, to inspire your soul and entertain your mind. Everything is just incredible there. I hope you don’t forget drinking some cocktails in glasses made of ice inside the kamakura bar. Enjoy it and warm your body!
4) Tsugaru Railway Winter Stove Train – An unforgettable ride
The train ride is fascinating and a remarkable way to admire the beautiful winter rural landscape of Tsugaru area in Aomori. It is on the list of the 10 big reasons why one should visit Japan in winter season. Head to Tsugaru-Goshogawara Station and then Just hop on the train and wait for the delightful moments! The ride would not just be enjoyable but somewhat nostalgic as well. I think many of you would bother getting off the train when you arrive at the last stop. It is a great way to have a pleasant chat with locals and get to know their lifestyle while the train is still moving to its final destination.
5) Hakkoda Ski Area – Skiing or snowboarding through the snow monsters
The holy grail of skiing in Japan is called Niseko but Hakkoda definitely could throw down a challenge to it. Its outstanding ski slopes have already gained well reputation from many skiers and snowboarders from within Japan and abroad. The ski resort is stunningly breathtaking and you can feel it once you start your skiing through the snow monsters. Indeed the atmosphere would sound to you like you are skiing on the slopes of mount Zao. If you have not heard of mount Zao ski slopes then read this right away.
Hakkoda’s quality deep dry powder snow has always attracted my attention and it would surly do the same for you. I don’t know whether you are an advance skier/snowboarder or beginner. In fact, it welcomes all level of skiers and snowboarders offering all sorts of ski facilities and great accommodation. Enjoy the surrounding picturesque winter landscapes and I can guarantee that they would blow your mind. Anyway, it is a perfect ski vacation destination in Japan for this year winter.
6) Visit Hirosaki Castle & Enjoy the Yuki-Doro Matsuri (Snow Lantern Festival)
If you have already read this post then you probably have some idea about this famous snow festival of Japan. Those who have not read that article I would not disappoint you as I would briefly describe it again here. Hirosaki city is famed for its vast Hirosaki Park and the castle. The city is packed with a lot of visitors all year round especially for its famous Hirosaki Castle. In fact, the castle is surrounded by the Hirosaki Park. When winter rolls in, many visitors outside Hirosaki town gather on the castle grounds and celebrate an awe-inspiring snow festival together. Discover the hidden mysterious beauty of those snow lanterns and illuminated miniature igloos (kamakuras). Inspect them carefully and forget the time for a while. Please bear in mind that the night scene there is incredible, often words can’t explain!
7) Hachinohe Emburi – Be a Spectator!
Imagine yourself that a year without celebrating a festival in the land of the rising sun would be just embarrassing. I hope you never ever wish for such thing as everyone in Japan values their precious festivals held throughout the year in different regions across the country. Hachinohe Emburi is a fascinating winter festival with a history of over 800 years, held for four days from February 17th to the 20th every year at various locations in Hachinohe city. It is quite impressive to be part of just like other winter festivals.
The dancers (tayu) perform a unique style dancing down the street in Hachinohe. You would fall in love with this. Each one holds a farming tool called “eburi” and wear a hat shaped like the head of a horse and dance while moving the head. The festival is observed in order to pray for a rich harvest and announce the arrival of the spring season. Please note that, in 1979 it was designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.
8) Jappa-Jiru – A must Have Winter Dish
Aomori is known for its various local winter dishes. One of them is simply called Jappa-Jiru. This is a perfect winter dish that you would find it quite helpful to keep your body warm in the harsh winter months in Aomori. It is a delicious codfish dish and served warm that uses the bony parts of the fish to make a stock and usually stewed in miso soup, cooked vegetables such as green onion, daikon, carrot, and Chinese cabbage. I have never tried cooking it at home because the recipe is still unknown to me. However, you don’t need the recipe as well, just head to a restaurant and order some Jappa-Jiru! In addition, you can take a look at the other top famous local cuisine of Aomori prefecture.
9) Furukawa Fish Market – Have your Breakfast there
If you stay overnight in a hotel near JR Aomori station then the best possible way of start your day trip is visiting Furukawa Fish Market. There you can have your breakfast. In fact, I see this market as one of the ideal places to experience nokkedon (seafood donburi) in Japan.
Those who are planning to visit Auga Fish Market instead of visiting this one would take a wrong decision. However, it is your own choice! Do you want to know how to make your own breakfast? Follow me, first buy tickets (sold in sets – 5 and 10), and exchange each ticket for items you want to see on the top of the donburi. Don’t you forget that the first item you would use your ticket is for buying a bowl of rice. Apart from buying various sorts of seafood you can purchase hot miso soup, pickles from the vendors.
10) Relaxing in a Hot Spring Bath
Finding a hot spring bath in Japan is not a daunting task, it is easy to locate one. Throughout Aomori prefecture, you find many onsen (from ordinary to luxurious) that are particularly great to pay a visit during the winter months. If you don’t know how to take a bath in a hot spring then read this guide immediately. I know a great onsen, named Aomori Machinaka Onsen, and it is located adjacent to JR Aomori Station (about 10-a minute walk). I often visit it especially when the temperature drops severely in winter. If you have not been to any onsen yet in Japan, I guess a hot spring bath could change your life, who knows you may get addicted to it.
Aomori’s winter season is blessed with the things that could offer you both indoor and outdoor adventures. I think many of you are interested in visiting the greatest Sapporo Yuki Matsuri and would like to reach there by the shinkansen from Tokyo Station. Your train will stop at JR Aomori Station, so if you have time then why don’t you spend a day in Aomori and try experiencing at least one of these winter activities?
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis