#1. Nebuta Festival
Nebuta Festival is one of the most magnificent festivals in Japan that features gigantic floats called “Nebuta”. The festival is also one of three great Tohoku festivals. The floats parade through the town, carrying the images of historic figures or kabuki characters, followed by a troupe of local performers and tourists dancing to traditional Japanese music. The festivities culminate in the last day when the best three floats are chosen. The festival is held from August 2 to August 7 annually. More than 2 million tourists visit the festival every year.
#2. Lake Towada
Photo Credit: Kzaral@flickr
Lake Towada is a freshwater caldera lake that lies between Towada City in Aomori and Kosaka Town in Akita. With a maximum water depth of around 326.8 meters, the lake is in Towada Hachimantai National Park. The only outgoing river from the lake is the Oirase River. Surrounded with forests, the periphery of the lake is filled with diverse wildlife. The lake is also home of farmed sockeye salmon. Pleasure boats are operating on the lake. Near the lake, there is the Towada lakeside hot spring. In winter, Towada winter festival called Towada Winter Story is held annually, you can view snow statues and snow huts called Kamakura.
#3. Tsugaru Soba
Tsugaru Soba is make with buckwheat noodles, it is a local cuisine unique to the Tsugaru region. Unlike other soba, Tsugaru Soba is matured and contains mashed soybean soup. Although this soba dates back to the Edo period, it was distinct during the post-war era. However, thanks to the efforts of local people, Tsugaru Soba was revived in 1997. Tsugaru Soba is soft and chewy with strong flavors of buckwheat and soybean.
#4. Rice Field Art
Photo Credit: Contri@flickr
Use the rice fields as a canvas, people in Inakadate create giant pictures on rice fields by using rice of various types and colors. Originally they used only three colors of rice, now they paint sophisticated and elaborate pictures by using seven types of rice. There are two venues to see rice field art, near the town office and Michi no Eki or the roadside station. You can view the rice field art from the observation deck. Shuttle buses between two venues are operating for free.
#5. Hirosaki Castle
Built in the Edo Period, Hirosaki Castle was the residence castle to the feudal lord of the Tsugaru Clan. The castle was the center of politics and tthe economy during the Tsugaru reign. Although the castle was abandoned after the Meiji Restoration, the whole castle, such as the castle tower, stone wall, the moat, and artwork at that time was well-preserved. Among the 12 existing castle towers in Japan, currently Hirosaki Castle, including the castle tower, is designated as Important Cultural Properties. Hirosaki Park, including the Hirosaki Castle area, is famous for the beautiful cherry blossom. The well-known Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival is held at Hirosaki Castle annually between mid-April and early-May. The cherry blossom at Hirosaki is dubbed the most beautiful cherry blossom in Japan.
#6. Sukayu Onsen
Photo Credit: sukayu.jp
Sukayu Onsen is a solitary inn in the Hakkoda Mountains. Sukayu Onsen boasts abundant hot water and various effectiveness, such as helping with rheumatism and skin diseases. Sukayu Onsen features senninburo or the bath for one thousand people. It’s an all-cypress gymnasium-like building, consisting of three different baths. Seninburo is a mixed bathing with gender-separated changing rooms. Sukayu Onsen is also famous as one of the deep-snow districts in the world. The botanical garden of Tohoku University is near Sukayu Onsen. Sukayu Onsen is also one of the best autumn leaves in Aomori.
#7. Oirase Keiryu
At Towada Hatimantai National Park, Oirase Keiryu is a mountain stream that runs roughly 14 kilometers down from Nenokuhi at the shore of Lake Towada to Mt. Yakeyama. It is designated as place of Special Scenic Beauty and as a Special Natural Monument. It presents a dynamic ever-changing landscape with water flowing through the natural forest, there is a number of waterfalls of various sizes. You can enjoy beautiful sceneries that change with the seasons, such as Japanese beech in spring and mountain maple in autumn. Walking through Oirase Keiryu while hearing the sound of stream relaxes and comforts you.
#8. Lake Juniko
Lake Juniko is an umbrella term describing a general area with several lakes in the Shirakami mountainous region. They are supposedly formed from the collapse of Mt. Kuzure-yama due to the earthquake in 1704. Among Lake Juniko, Aoike is the most famous because of the blue water. When the sun shines, the blue water in Aoike is breathtaking. It is still unknown why water in Aoike is so blue. The rocky wall of Japan Canyon, named after Grand Canyon in the U.S., is also overwhelming. After walking around, drinking tea made with the water from Wakitsuboike no Shimizu is a treat. You can enter this region from April to November. If you want to walk in during the winter, you can go trekking in the snow with a local guide.
Located in the center of the Shimokita Peninsula, Osorezan is a rim-around a volcanic crater called somma. Osorezan is also one of the three sacred places in Japan, along with Mt. Hiei and Mt. Koya. In the precinct of Osorezan, there are four hot springs where worshipers can take a bath for free. Osorezan features its desolate scenery and sulfurous odor. Passing through the rocky area, you can reach the shore of Usori Lake called Gokurakuhama or paradise beach. Desolate rocky areas makes a sharp contrast with the heavenly Gokurakuhama. Osorezan is famous for necromancers called Itako. During Osorezan Taisai (July 20 to July 24) and Akimairi (early October), many worshipers gather to hear about spiritualism by Itako.
#10. Hakkoda Moutains
Located to the south of Aomori City, Hakkoda Moutains is a general term of a group of 18 volcanoes and lava domes. Hakkoda Mountains is one of one hundred top mountains of Japan, consisting of two volcanic groups, southern volcanic groups and northern volcanic groups. Many high moors, such as Tashirodaira Moor and Senninntai, lie between the two volcanic groups. Tashirodaira Moor near Hakkoda hot springs is home to diverse alpine plants. Hakkoda Ropeway is operating all year around from the foot to the summit of Mt. Tamoyachidake. You can enjoy the panoramic view from the gondola of the ropeway. From the Summit Park Station, you can walk the nature trail and easily enjoy moor and alpine plants, taking 30 to 60 minutes. From the end of November to the middle of May, you can enjoy mountain skiing, after the snow melts, you can also enjoy many alpine plants blooming. There’s a hiking course which leads to Sukayu hot spring spa via Mt. Akakuradake, Mt. Idodake, and Mt. Odake, the highest peak of North Hakkoda, the Kami-kenashi marsh, and the Shimo-kenashi marsh.
Shirakami-Sanchi is a mountain range to the south-west of Aomori and to the north-west of Akita, with around 1,000 meters in altitude. Shirakami-Sanchi was first designated as UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site along with Yakushima Island in Japan in 1993. Shirakami-Sanchi is one of the world largest primitive beech forests, and maintains diversity of animals and plants. There are several trekking courses that Shirakami-Sanchi Visitor Center recommends, such as the beech forest trekking course and the Lake Juniko tour course, along with a few climbing courses. To protect untouched nature, there are rules that hikers and climbers should comply with, such as a ban on fires and fishing.
#12. Hirosaki Apple Park
65 different species of apple trees can be found at Hirosaki Apple Park. Visitors can enjoy picking apples. More than 1,200 kinds of products with select apples are sold at Ringo no Ie meaning Apple House, you can eat original dishes made with apples at the light meal section. Old agricultural machinery from the Edo Period is on display at the Farmer House. There is a playground and a picnic square too.