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October 20, 2018 - Tohoku Series: Aomori (青森市)

This travel report is a continuing series highlighting the various destinations of the Tohoku Region. In this report I continue the tour of Aomori City, in Aomori Prefecture.

Aomori is a city filled with museums and art galleries. This blog entry is all about the City of Aomori and some of the history of the area and how the city is promoting its art scene. How to travel around the city is through its train and bus networks. There are two major train stations in the city, Shin-Aomori Station is the city gateway via the Shinkansen. It is the terminus for the Tohoku and Hokkaido Shinkansen. Aomori Station is for local and regional trains linking places within and outside the city.

By local municipal bus or the tourist bus, the first stop is Sannai Maruyama ruins (国指定特別史跡 三内丸山遺跡). This is a major museum in the city and highlights artifacts from the Jomon Period and is a rare glimpse into the natives that once resided in the area.

The museum consist of an indoor exhibition space full of dioramas, personal artifacts, and native art. The second component is the village ruins where many of the artifacts were found. They include hut buildings made of thatch and not unlike ones you see today. There is also a famous "skyscraper" made of thick tree stumps. Could this be used as a watch tower? Or the first skyscraper in the world?

A massive wooden structure in the outdoor village ruins.

There are lots of reconstructed buildings some of which you can enter. Due to my height I was not able to physically fit into the tiny earthen homes. Imagine how tiny the natives were.

Wooden thatched buildings. similar to ones you see throughout Japan

Located right next to the Jomon Period ruins is the Aomori Museum of Art (青森県立美術館). This contemporary International Modern gallery showcases famous artists from Japan and abroad. The most famous pieces include the massive "Aomori Dog" which hunches over like its about to puke.

The museum is also very famous for its massive backdrops for the ballet Aleko painted by Marc Chagall. I don't appreciate art the way others do, but this exhibition was absolutely massive and inspiring. There are other smaller pieces on display as well which would captivate every art lover.

9 meters in height, 15 meters wide backdrops by Chagall
9 meters in height, 15 meters wide by Chagall.

After visiting the above locations, head back to downtown and you will see the famous ASPAM Building. Every city in Japan must have an observation deck and this building has one on the top floor. There are also restaurants, souvenir shops, and information centre here.

The ASPAM Building

Located next to the ASPAM Building are two important museums. The first is the Seikan Memorial Ship Hakkoda Maru (青函連絡船 メモリアルシップ八甲田丸) and the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse (ねぶたの家 ワ・ラッセ). I didn't have time to visit both so I visited the memorial ship due to my interest in transportation.

Prior to the opening of the Seikan Tunnel in 1988, all transportation between Aomori (Honshu) and Hakodate (Hokkaido) was made by ship. No matter if its passengers, cars, trucks, or even trains, you would have to take these ferries through the treacherous Tsugaru Strait.

The last of these ferries is now permanently docked at Aomori.

The bulk of the museum is inside the ship and includes dioramas of all types, artifacts, personal effects, photographs and videos, and a tour of the captains, and staff living quarters. You can also enter the smokestack where you can still smell the diesel fumes.

At the bottom of the boat you can tour where the trains used to be parked. Rolling stock from the 1960s to 1980s are on display. Finally, you can enter the engine room located below the water level.

On dry land you can see the ruins of where the train enters the ship.

Located next to the ship museum is the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse (ねぶたの家 ワ・ラッセ). I did not get a chance to visit the museum but just the exterior facade is enough to make you take out your camera.

That ends the tour of Aomori and I hope you enjoyed the photos. The city is definitely worth a first time or repeat visit. I will certainly be back as one of the most famous "exports" is the Tsugaru Shamisen and its unique sounds.

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List of Posts:
2018/10/25 - Tohoku Series: Genbikei Gorge (厳美渓)
2018/10/24 - Tohoku Series: Hachinohe (八戸市)
2018/10/23 - Tohoku Series: Seikan Tunnel Museum (一般財団法人 青函トンネル記念館)
2018/10/23 - Tohoku Series: Cape Tappi (竜飛崎)
2018/10/22 - Tohoku Series: Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流) and Towadako (十和田湖)
2018/10/21 - Tohoku Series: Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya (星野リゾート 青森屋)
2018/10/21 - Tohoku Series: Mt. Hakkoda (八甲田山)
2018/10/20 - Tohoku Series: Aomori (青森市)
2018/10/20 - Tohoku Series: Seafood Capital, Aomori (青森市)
2018/10/19 - Tohoku Series: Juniko
2018/10/19 - Tohoku Series: Gono Line
2018/10/18 - Tohoku Series: Tazawako (田沢湖)
2018/10/18 - Tohoku Series: Kakunodate (角館)
2018/10/17 - Tohoku Series: Akita (秋田市)
2018/10/16 - The Pokemon Cafe experience
2018/10/16 - Early Morning Meiji stroll
2017/11/11 - Tsukiji's (Truly) Last Breath
2017/10/31 - Yokohama - Western Port City
2017/10/30 - Tateishi Nakamise Shotengai - Stepping into a Time Warp
2017/10/29 - Oya History Museum - A Cavern in Time
2017/10/28 - Nikko - Land of Spirituality and Tourists Part Two
2017/10/28 - Nikko - Land of Spirituality and Tourists Part One
2017/10/27 - Aizu - Wakamatsu and Kitakata: Land of Ramen and Red Cows
2017/10/27 - Ouchijuku - Historic Town in Fukushima Prefecture
2017/10/25 - Noboribetsu - The Comforts of Hell!
2017/10/24 - Otaru - Land of History and Economic Power Part One
2017/10/24 - Otaru - Land of History and Economic Power Part Two
2017/10/23 - Sapporo - Fresh Seafood and Western History
2017/10/22 - Lake Toya - A Land of Destruction and Beauty Part Three
2017/10/21 - Lake Toya - A Land of Destruction and Beauty Part Two
2017/10/21 - Lake Toya - A Land of Destruction and Beauty Part One
2017/10/20 - Hakodate in 18 hours - Part Two
2017/10/20 - Hakodate in 18 hours - Part One
2017/10/20 - All aboard the Hokkaido Shinkansen in Gran Class style
2015/12/06 - Tsukiji's Last Breath
2015/12/02 - Kawagoe Day Trip
2015/11/29 - Pokemon Train on the JR Ofunato Line
2015/11/29 - Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture
2015/11/28 - Yamadera
2015/11/23 - The Architecture of the Yoyogi National Gymnasium