Hirosaki is the 2nd largest city in Aomori prefecture in Japan, where I was born.
Aomori is the north-end of main island (main island is often called Honshu) of Japan and just under the Hokkaido island. The summer in there is not too hot and low humidity whereas mega snow falls in every winter. I think we have achieved a lot of records of snowfall (see “top 10 snowiest major cities” ). It sometimes painfully cold but you can enjoy various winter sports.
Also, Hirosaki is famous nationwide for its apple harvests and strong dialect called the Tsugaru dialect (津軽弁, つがるべん, Tsugaru-ben).
Anyway here is the summary of 7 things you can enjoy in Aomori prefecture.
Cherry Blossom festival in Hirosaki (Mid April to Early May)
In spring in Hirosaki is the special season for cherry blossoms. The cherry blossom festival in the Hirosaki castle park is one of the best places for Hanami (花見, はなみ, cherry blossom viewing) in Japan.
You can have a memorable picnic under cherry blossom trees in the park every spring.
Neputa Festival (1st August – 8th August)
Summer is the most exciting time in Hirosaki because of Neputa festival. Huge paper lanterns with march performers roam around the city area in night time. Almost 80 marching groups join it and show their new pictures on their lanterns to audience who come from not only Japan but also overseas countries. Here is the website all about the Neputa festival : www.neputa.info.
In addition, two cities close to Hirosaki have summer festivals too. Aomori city have the Nebuta festival and Goshogawara city have the Standing Nebuta festival in summer so you may enjoy all of them in one visit time. They are all different style of lanterns and marching music.
Skiing & Snowboarding (Dec – end of Feb)
Winter in Aomori is perhaps most desirable for tourists from overseas because of its powder snow. Hakkōda Mountains are the most popular mountain for skiers and snowboarders, however weather in that area is changeable so please fully prepare your equipment, food and beverages.
Onsen – Hotspring (all season)
Aomori has various natural hot springs, like other regions in Japan. One of the unique outdoor hot springs is the one just next to the coastline of Japan sea, which is called Koganesaki Furofushi Onsen (黄金崎不老ふ死温泉). People often go there in the time sunset to see romantic panorama sea view.
Nature (all season)
Aomori has a wide area of nature including Shirakami-Sanchi (白神山地, lit. white god mountain area) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Honshu, Japan. Autumn leaves in that mountain area have a large number of tourist every year. It’s just stunning.
Apple farming and apple products
Hirosaki has a long history of its apple farming since Meiji period. As Hirosaki has a good circle of the seasons for apple harvest, trees have bigger and sweeter apples than other region in Japan. Apple finished products such as apple jams, fresh apple juices and apple pies are enjoyed by many people.
If you walk around the city you can find a lot of apple shape signs and products everywhere.
Friendly Local People (everywhere)
Because Aomori has a strong dialect, sometimes visitors (including Japanese) may have some difficulties in a conversation. However, they are really friendly and warm-hearted people. You can always find someone to point you in the right direction. This is quite important because Aomori is not like Tokyo or Osaka, therefore you could not find many signs in English. Enjoy talking locals and learn some dialect 🙂