Notes of a one-day trip to Aomori
a tour of hot springs that are good for the skin
Northeastern Japan is suitable for enjoying not only beautiful scenery but also special traditional culture and hot springs. I contemplated a day trip to Aomori and was fortunate that I could have an even more wonderful experience than I imagined. I am going to share it with you here.
The distance from Aomori to Tokyo turned out to be shorter than I had imagined. It takes about 3 hours by bullet train. If you depart from Ueno Station in the morning, you can arrive by noon.
The destination this time is Kuroishi Onsenkyo in Aomori Prefecture. First of all, we went to the Tsugaru Kokeshi Museum, where kokeshi, a traditional craft of that region, are on display. About 4,000 kokeshi are displayed there, and there are some of which are the tallest in Japan. The first kokeshi were, like in the picture below, child’s toys originally child’s toys sold in hot springs. Afterward, the kinds of kokeshi became more varied, and there were some that owners could paint themselves. There are even collectors who specialize in kokeshi in Japan.
Artists have combined traditional kokeshi and contemporary art and created kokeshi in various styles. There was a kokeshi made entirely of gold, reported to have been auctioned for \100 million.
Many carefully selected kokeshi are displayed in this exhibition hall. If you take a closer look, there are also kokeshi painted by Japanese prime ministers. In this way, anyone can have the experience of painting kokeshi here, and you can make your own original kokeshi. Craftsmen will teach you directly how to paint kokeshi, so you can easily make some cute ones. Also, kokeshi are sold in a souvenir corner, and you can take the kokeshi you like home with you! This is a truly unexplored exhibition hall!
Tsugaru Traditional Crafts Center
65–1 Fukuro Tomiyama, Kuroishi, Aomori Prefecture
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Next, we went to Kuroishi Onsenkyo, which was the focus of this trip.
The hot springs here are a collection of hot springs with different components, and each has a different effect. There are those that have an effect on the skin, those that are effective for body disorders, those with a moisturizing effect, and so on, and today we could experience several of those hot springs. We could care for our bodies using natural ingredients!
In order to comprehensively verify the effects of the hot springs, I specifically examined the elasticity and moisture content of my skin before entering the hot springs.
After that, I entered each hot spring with a different efficacy in the following order.
The staying time was about 1 hour each, and there were many breaks as well.
All the springs were located in a hot spring inn, so I could see a beautiful Japanese courtyard. It was snowing, red leaves were falling, and it was very quiet.
Walking barefoot on a long tatami mat and looking at the scenery outside the window, I felt as if I were in the world of a Saga drama.
The power of a hot spring hot springs is really magical. Even if I had not put on any makeup after the hot springs, I did not feel dry in the air below 0°C in Aomori. It was like a precious mask packed with moisture. If you live here every day, your skin is bound to become beautiful like that of a beautiful woman.
64–2 Fukuro Tomiyama, Kuroishi, Aomori Prefecture
In addition, I recommend this hot spring.
Aoni Hot Springs
1–7 Aonisawa, Okiura, Kuroishi, Aomori Prefecture
In Kuroishi Onsenkyo, I was preparing for an experience tour to enjoy snow that falls in the winter. On January 14, I conducted a monitor tour that was enjoyed by foreigners.
The tour was accepted by the Tsugaru Traditional Crafts Center, and everybody started by changing into rental wear.
First, it was a challenge of trekking for 90 minutes. It was safe because it is guided by a mountaineer guide certified by the Japan Mountain Guide Association. While climbing the snow-covered mountain to the Shirayamahime Shrine after we put on snowshoes, we were lectured on hare and fox footprints, the history of the shrine and how to visit it, and so on. We took a break and had some hot apple juice on the way. I felt my body warm up.
Then, at a sleigh slope, we thoroughly enjoyed snow-playing activities such as tubing, sleigh riding, riding a snowmobile. After that, everyone made a spot for BBQ on the snow and, when I felt hungry, I enjoyed some snow BBQ on the snowfield, with beef produced in Aomori prefecture as the main course. I rounded it off with a hot-spring bath at the Hotel Azumashiya in Itadome Onsen! It warmed my cold body from the inside out.
A day like this where everyone can have fun is just around the corner! Stay tuned!
In addition, there are famous gourmet places to visit and other spots in Aomori.
What I would like to recommend first of all are Aomori apples. Aomori apple juice is as good as pear juice and its sugar content is very high. When you travel to Aomori, you can drink juice squeezed on the spot as well as purchasing delicious red apples.
As a rule, 100% juice bought at a supermarket is concentrated, after it is actually squeezed, and reconstituted with water. Juice made in a juicer on the spot has a very fresh and sweet taste. Juice bought in a the store here has a rich and refreshing flavor. You can choose from various varieties of apples.
We also went to a famous fresh market near Aomori Station, when snow was falling. The market is in the basement, and you can fully experience the atmosphere of a traditional Japanese fish market. All kinds of fresh fish and fresh shellfish were displayed on the stalls.
Of course, the main thing to do is to eat and eat. In the market, you can make seafood bowls at the stalls, or you can go straight to a restaurant to eat. The restaurant we went to was called the “Ringobako (Apple Box)”. It has live shamisen music playing every day.
This is a seafood rice bowl. The fish is very big!
When making sashimi, the fish can be cut into a slightly smaller pieces, but the fish in this bowl was too big, and it felt as if it were floating in the air. Described in one word, it was just cool!
Most of the prefectures in Japan face the ocean, and the sashimi I ate in Aomori was much more delicious than the sashimi available in Tokyo. There is Tokyo has the Tsukiji Market, but most of the marine foods are frozen after it is caught at various places and brought there. By contrast, the sashimi I ate in Aomori was made of fresh fish directly caught in the sea, so its elasticity was quite different. This is one of the foods you can enjoy only here.
In addition, the Aomori Museum of Art is also a place of interest, where the works of the Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara are on display.On the day we arrived, it was truly the first snow in Aomori. The white appearance ofthe Aomori Museum of Art presented the greatest charm amid the snow. It looked like a symphonic poem composed of the blue sky, white snow, white walls, lights and shadows.
This art museum was designed by Jun Aoki, and it is filled with attention down to every corner. The umbrella stands are built into the building and are very refined.
Since Yoshitomo Nara was born in Aomori, many of his works have been on exhibit here for a long time. The most famous is, of course, this huge “Aomori Dog.” The sculpture of this puppy is pure white that matches the snowy landscape of Aomori. I do not know whether this is the intentional design of Yoshitomo Nara.
There are also many works by other artists in the museum and you can spend a long time there.
After we more or less did the sights in Aomori, we returned to Aomori Station and went back to Tokyo by bullet train. However, before that, there was one thing not to be missed: the box lunch sold on trains and train stations in Japan. Of course, marine produce that is a specialty of Aomori is indispensable.
In this way, our one-day jam-packed trip was over. It had three delights: delicious food, beautification and relaxation, and beautiful art works! It makes me excited to think that you can visit many enjoyable places in Japan in such a leisurely manner.
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