Aomori is the most northern prefecture on the main island of Japan. It is most known for Aomori having the highest snowfall in the world at a staggering average of 8m every year. This makes the area ideal for skiing – but there is a lot more you can do in Winter in Aomori! Discover the Winter wonderland for yourself with our top 8 reasons why you should visit this beautiful prefecture during the cold season below!
1. Oirase Gorge Winter Bus Tour
Oirase Gorge is famous for its beautiful waterfalls and autumn scenery. However, the area is much more magical in Winter! The 14km trail features dozens of waterfalls and streams, all frozen mid-flow during the snowy season to make for an impressive sight. While many enjoy hiking the trail, the bus tour makes it convenient to see the special highlights of the trip without trekking through the snow. This gorge is a must-see for any photographers to get that breath-taking shot of crystal frozen waterfalls!
【When】Jan 11 – March 15
【Hours】12:40pm – 4:20pm
【Where】Various bus stop pickup spots available
【Admission】 2, 000 yen
2. Lake Towada Winter Story Festival
If you are a fan of winter wonderlands, look no further than the Winter Story Festival! The event features elaborate snow sculptures of mythological demons and samurai over an impressive 10m high. The entire area is lit up with candles, an LED light tunnel and illuminations. In addition, the iconic Otome no Zo statue of two maidens at the lake is lit up, which features the work and poem of artist Kotaro Takamura from 1953. Moreover, you can sip cocktails out of ice glasses at an igloo bar, have fun on a huge snow slide and try local cuisine while watching performances. At 8pm, the night ends with a bang of colourful fireworks in the clear night sky in the stunning mountain setting!
【When】24 Jan – 24 Feb
【Hours】Weekdays: 3:00pm-9:00pm, Weekends: 11:00am-9:00pm
【Where】Towada lakeside, Yaasumiya, Towada Shi, Aomori Ken 018-5501
3. Mt. Hakkoda
This mountain is known for its average of 4m snowfall perfect for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts! However, one of the unique attractions about Mt. Hakkoda is the “snow monsters” that guard the mountain. During peak snow season, pine trees are covered in soft rime ice leaving a vast landscape of huge snow figures. In addition to the monsters, the mountain has a ropeway with fantastic views and natural hot springs surrounding the volcanic area. This beautiful snowscape makes for a once in a lifetime skiing holiday!
【When】Mid Nov – Feb
【Hours】9:00am – 4:20pm
【Where】Kansuizawa-1-12 Arakawa, Aomori, 030-0111, Japan
【Admission】 2,000 yen round trip (1,250 yen one way)
4. Yuki Doro Festival at Hirosaki Castle
Hirosaki Castle is a spot famous for its cherry blossoms in the Spring. However, it is even more of a spectacle during the cold season. Every year, the early February festival showcases beautiful snow lanterns, illuminations, sculptures and snow huts. In addition, there are fireworks and live shows to really highlight the festival atmosphere. The festival surrounds the stunning snow-covered Hirosaki Castle, which was first constructed in 1611. So make sure you check out this splendid winter display!
【When】8 Feb – 11 Feb
【Hours】9:00am – 9:00pm
【Where】Hirosaki Park, Shimoshiroganecho 1, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8356
5. Icefall Onsen at the Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel
While Aomori has a large number of stunning hot spring resorts to try, this place is up there for the best. This hotel is surrounded by Oirase Gorge, with the many waterfalls and streams running down the mountain. While this makes for a lovely stay any time of the year, the hotel offers a unique open-air public bath with an icefall exclusive to Winter months. The ice waterfall measures up to 3.5m high, creating a glistening silver surrounding you wouldn’t want to miss. As if it couldn’t get any better, they have stunning western and Japanese restaurants inside the resort showcasing Aomori’s specialty apples. Amazingly, they have a free shuttle that takes you straight to the Hakkoda Mountain Ropeway for the perfect skiing trip!
【When】Mid Jan – Late March
【Where】231 Tochikubo, Oirase, Towada 034-0398 Aomori Prefecture
【Admission】 Visit website for accommodation prices
6. Hachinohe Emburi
This a native harvest festival unique to the Hachinohe region. Dating back 800 years, it is selected as one of Japan’s National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties. During the festival, dancers wear traditional clothing and hats, performing a unique and stylized dance to express the movements of planting seeds and rice. While dancing, they also sing traditional rice farming songs. These dances are performed in hope of a successful harvest for the year. At the festival you can also warm up with local dishes such as senbei-jiru, a chicken and wheat cracker soup, as well as hot amazake, a sweet rice beverage. You’ve never seen anything like these traditional performances, so make sure to go to this festival for a truly one of a kind experience!
【When】Feb 17 – Feb 20
【Hours】7:00am – 8:30pm
【Where】1 Chome-1-1 Uchimaru, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori-ken
7. Winter Canoeing on Lake Towada
Lake Towada is one of the most gorgeous Winter lakes in Japan. During the colder season, you can paddle through the clear icy waters. The view from the canoes offer beautiful snow blanketed mountainous landscape, with shimmering ice on the lake’s edges. It is the largest crater lake on the main island of Japan, as well as the third deepest. Make sure you come and enjoy a splash in this grand lake for your next Winter Japan trip!
【When】Jan 5 – 31 Mar
【Hours】10:00am – 12:30pm
【Where】Towadakohan, Yasumiya 486,Okuse, Towada, Aomori (inside of the cafe Ikoi)
【Admission】 11,000 yen
8. Nakamachi Komise Dori
This street is a wooden shopping arcade known for its traditional buildings from the feudal period. The street is lined with old-fashioned sake breweries and traditional Japanese artisans. Additionally, it has numerous restaurants, soba shops and cafes for a nice afternoon out. Along the arcade are many natural springs and wells, as well as a sake warehouse museum to showcase the historical vibe of the area. While the street is always a sight, it is especially magical during Winter with the snow blanketing the wooden structures. So why not check out one of Japan’s top 100 historical streets for yourself!
【Hours】Varies from each store
【Where】Nakamachi Kuroishi, Aomori Prefecture 036-0377
Winter is definitely underrated when it comes to Japan trips, and we hope that this article has shown the beauty of going to Aomori during the colder season! Are there any places you have visited in Japan that were stunning during Winter? Let us know in the comments below on your favourite Winter wonderland locations!