Capital of the eponymous prefecture, Aomori (pop. 297,000) attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors in early August to view its celebrated Nebuta Matsuri, one of Japan's top festivals. Apart from that Aomori is a drab modern city, with an active shipping and fishing industry, but little to see.
Albeit, the city is a good access point for visitors to the Tsugaru Peninsula, Shimokita Peninsula, the town of Hirosaki or Lake Towada.
If you happen to be in Aomori, you can have a look at the Aomori Prefectural Folklore Museum, or the Ukiyoe (woodblock paintings) at the Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum.
|Aomori Nebuta Festival 青森ねぶた祭り|
Aomori's number one attraction, the Nebuta Festival is held every year from 2nd to 7th August. It is acclaimed as one of the most colourful, vibrant and spectacular festivals nationwide. It was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1980.
Nebuta refers to the float of a brave warrior-figure which is carried around the city centre, while dancers wearing a unique type of costume known as 'haneto' dance around in time with the chant 'Rassera'.
Demon figure at the Nebuta Festival in Aomori
Brave demon-fighting samurai at the Nebuta Festival in Aomori
How to get there
From Tokyo, shinkansen only go as far as Hachinohe (also in Aomori prefecture). It is a 3-hour ride to Hachinohe (￥9,350), then 1 more hour to Aomori using the JR Limited Express Super Shiratori (￥1,600).
JAL has flights connecting Aomori to Sapporo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka (Itami & Kansai airports) and Fukuoka. Aomori Airport is 35 minutes by bus from the city center.