If you want to experience the thrill of summer festivals, then you can’t miss Akita and Aomori in August as they are home to the famous Kanto and Nebuta Matsuri respectively.
Since the best part of the festival takes place at night, how about sightseeing various interesting spots around Aomori?
If you’re visiting Aomori via Akita, then starting at Hirosaki is ideal as you can take the picturesque Gono train line from Akita all the way up to Hirosaki.
Rice field as a canvas
Each year, Inakadate Village create larger-than-life art pieces made using varieties of the rice plant. Rice Paddy Art, also called Tanbo Art, converts rice fields into canvases. This year’s art represents two pop culture iconic images from the 1950s. Field Two has the beloved Astro Boy created by Osamu Tezuka.
Field One has Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck from the Roman Holiday.
There are two fields and both have observation decks to get a full view of these artworks. At first glance, it may seem like rice plants have been painted but a closer look reveals different varieties of the rice plant. Usually the theme varies annually and the images you see are from 2017.
Each artwork is mapped digitally first and then over the summer months, you can see it come to life.
A shuttle bus is available to go between the two fields.
Closest station to Inakadate Mura Observation Deck: Inakadate Station
Closest station to Yayoi-no-Sato Observation Deck: Tanbo Art Station
Once you are done with the fields, head to Aomori Station and get on to Bus No. 6 towards Aomori Museum of Art and the Sannai Maruyama Ruins. It takes about 20 minutes.
Gigantic dog in a museum
Opened in 2006, at Aomori Museum of Art, you can see an exhibition room of Munekata Shiko, who was born in Aomori prefecture, artworks of Nara Yoshitomo, one of the representative modern artists in Japan, and special creative exhibitions in spacious rooms.
The building itself is one of the highlights and you can check out the gigantic statue of a dog by Nara Yoshitomo, a symbol of this museum, for free! The distinctive building that reminds people of a white box dropped on the trench of an excavation site was inspired by the nearby ancient site of “Sannai-Maruyama.”
Excavated in 1992, Sannai Maruyama Site is the biggest remains of a village dating back to the Jomon period (approx. 5,500-4,000 years ago).
The massive remains contain reconstructions of a large-sized pit dwelling and symbolic three-layered, pillar-supported buildings from the Jomon period. This archaeological site is open to the public all year long.
Colorful Massive Lanterns
Once you are done with the above, you can head back to Aomori Station by bus for the top three festivals in northern Japan, the Nebuta Matsuri.
Held annually from August 2 – 7, gigantic nebuta depicting characters from kabuki, history as well as modern scenes are pulled along a 3-km road with haneto, dancers and musicians, for company. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of experiences that you definitely don’t want to miss.
Since you have traveled all the way, make sure to visit the Kanto Matsuri, one of the top three festivals in the Tohoku region as well.
Along with the two festivals, check out what to do in Akita in a day so you get a clear idea of all that you can do in 3-4 days in the North of Japan.