Wild, short-legged horses, craggy rock formations and a frontier history give the remote, axe-shaped Shimokita Peninsula (下北半島, Shimokita-hantō) the air of travel legend. Jet-black ravens swarm about its sulphur-infused tributaries where locals believe Buddhist souls come if they cannot rest; Japanese come to pay tribute at a powerful Buddhist shrine.
There are three main towns on the peninsula: Mutsu (first if arriving by car or train), Wakinosawa (if arriving by ferry) and Ōma, the furthest point north on the Japanese mainland – get here by car or bus. However you arrive, it's a long, slow ride. The region is centred on Osore-zan (恐山; 874m), a barren volcano that is regarded as one of the most sacred places in all of Japan.