It was our first time in Aomori, and as usual, we didn’t have as many days as we would have liked. To make the trip worth it, we decided to take a car that would allow us to see a few spots that were far from the city and that would not have been possible by public transport.
Let’s ignore the fact that once we arrived at the rental car company, we realized that this clever guy had rented the car for the next week. Let’s also ignore the fact that it was a long weekend in Japan, so after checking with three other rental companies, we found ourselves with no car available. Anyway, when we had already given up, and we were already thinking of changing all our plans, one of the employees of the rental car companies came running to us and told us that someone had canceled a booking at the last minute. Perfect timing.
Showa Daibutsu (昭和大仏)
Happy about our lucky start, it was time to catch up with the time we had lost and went right away to our first stop: The Aomori Showa Daibutsu. After living in Asia for a decade, you kind of get used to seeing Buddha statues everywhere, but big ones like this are always fascinating.
It’s part of the Seiryū-ji complex temple and is located just outside of Aomori city. I didn’t take too many pictures (whether was specially good) but it has a couple of temples, a pagoda and some cool sculptures.
Osorezan Bodaiji Temple (恐山 菩提寺)
We wanted to go to the northest point of the main island of Japan (Honshu) so we continued our road trip to the Shimokita Peninsula. More or less at the center of the peninsula we found the Osorezan Bodaiji Temple. It’s a peculiar temple because it’s located in a volcanic area. It’s supposed to be a gate to the underworld but we didn’t have time for such bifurcation on this road trip.
I had these interesting rock formations on my radar. To appreciate them better, you could drive a bit further north where you can find parking with a nice panoramic view of Hotokegaura. The parking even has a proper toilet, so it could be a nice spot for any campers reading this. Just prepare a good anti-mosquito solution in the summer…
The whole place was pretty empty, so we walked around the rocks for a while and even spent some time playing with the drone. The water was crystal clear. As a world premiere, here goes our first picture on the blog.
Inakadate Village Rice Field Art (田舎館村)
We still had a couple more days to continue our trip, and we decided to explore the area to the southwest of Aomori. One of the reasons was to see in person those rice field art we had seen many times on the internet. There are several places to see them in Japan, and one of them is in Inakadate village. They are pretty amazing and huge! For size reference, check the people at the bottom.
Inakadate actually has two locations to see the rice fields. The main one is within the village, unfortunately it was far too early and the building from where they can be seen was closed. The second spot is pretty close but is already outside the village so I was able to fly the drone to the the pics. It has an observatory tower but again it was closed, we are too early birds, specially when travelling.
Iwakiyama-jinja Shrine (岩木山神社)
We found this shrine just by driving around, and it was actually a nice surprise. The big torii at the entrance, together with the foggy morning, was well worth taking some pictures.
The shrine is some kind of trailhead since we saw a few people prepared to start the route. It might have been worth trying, but we had in mind to climb another mountain not far from there.
Mount Iwaki (岩木山)
This was the main goal of the day. Normally, before traveling somewhere, I always spend some time looking for interesting things to see in the area. Not just browsing the internet for tourist places but doing some actual location scouting in Google Maps. And of course, the next one got my attention…
Besides putting Doron-chan to do some exercise, we didn’t really do any proper hiking. We took a cable car and went for a short walk. The initial plan was to reach the very top of the mountain, but it was fully packed with a human traffic jam. We immediately thought about our climb to Mount Fuji a few years back and were not in the mood to repeat the experience. Instead, we took a short walk to a nearby hill and just enjoyed the views from there.
Sannai-Maruyama Special Historical Site (三内丸山遺跡)
We had to head back to Tokyo but still had some spare time to visit the prehistoric site of Sannai Maruyama. And those were the highlights of our trip around Aomori prefecture. There was a few places we didn’t have time to see but it’s always good to leave some thing for the next trip…maybe in Winter?