Aomori Prefecture

Travellers to the northern tip of Honshū often speed through the peculiar-shaped prefecture of Aomori Prefecture (青森県; Aomori-ken) en route to the island of Hokkaidō. However, for geographic extremity – and remarkably few tourists – you needn’t go so far. Disembark the bullet train before it reaches the sea, rent a car and explore the axe-shaped Shimokita Peninsula, the sacred volcanoes around Osore-zan, and the snowy Hakkōda highlands. It’s seriously wild stuff. In summer the beaches around the deep blue caldera lake of Towada-ko make for a peaceful interlude. Hirosaki, the former capital, is a stylish little city with a hip downtown area and a rather fine park.

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