Located at the northern tip of Japan’s mainland, Aomori City lies between the Mutsu Bay and the beautiful Hakkoda Mountains. It is bless with some of the most wonderful natural settings in the world. With temperate summers, the four seasons are distinct. The Port of Aomori has one of the highest amounts of snowfall for large cities in Japan.
The city boasts its long history by the presence of the prehistoric Sannai-Maruyama archaeological site and the more recent annual Nebuta Festival. Residents are proud of the local apples and blackcurrants. Even the city’s tap water was ranked the most delicious in Japan. Visitors to the Port of Aomori will want to check out these interesting places and things to do.
The Sannai-Maruyama historical site is believed to have been first settled 5500 years ago. Since 1992, excavations have uncovered many Jomon artifacts as well as remains of pit-dwellings, long houses and pillar-supported structures, graves, storage pits, mounds of debris, and clay mining pits. Guided tours of this huge site are available year round. The Sannai-Maruyama was designated a National Historic Site in 2000.
The annual Nebuta Festival is said to be the biggest “fire festival” in Japan. Taking place over several weeks in August, a big parade with lit lantern floats and dancers in costumes ends each day. One theory is that the Nebuta Festival began with the Tanabata festival in China where a wood-frame box (Toro) wrapped in Japanese paper was put afloat with a lit Japanese candle inside. The ceremony would purify the celebrant and chase evil spirits out to sea. On the last night of the Tanabata, the Toros were accompanied by a fireworks display. In the Port of Aomori, the boats have become floats and have grown in size, as have the celebrations.
The hot springs resort of Asamushi Onsen on Mutsu Bay includes many inns for visitors. The bathing facilities include the Matsu no Yu communal onsen and the Michi no Eki Asamushi Onsen. Believed to have been discovered in the late 9th Century, the onsen were used for steaming flax. In 1190, they began to be used for bathing by nobles. The resort area is about 30 minutes from the Port of Aomori.
The Yotei-maru Ferry (photo) connected Aomori to Hokkaido before the Seikan Tunnel was opened. Today, it’s a slightly dilapidated, but charming, museum near the train station. The real deck area is a beer garden during the summer.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Aomori by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises by searching for “Aomori” on the Cruise Compete website.