Aomori airportIs served by Japan Airlines (JAL), ANA, FDA (Fuji Dream Airlines), and Korean Air. JAL flights arrive from Tokyo Haneda Airport, Nagoya Centrair Airport, Osaka Itami Airport, Sapporo Chitose Airport, and Fukuoka Airport. ANA flights arrive from Osaka Itami Airport and Sapporo Chitose Airport. FDA flights arrive from Nagoya Komaki Airport. Korean Air flights arrive from Seoul Incheon Airport.
The regular one-way fare from Tokyo to Aomori is ¥17,350 on the Hayabusa - slightly cheaper for the Hayate - and so for foreign tourists the better deal for the round-trip is to purchase a JR East Rail Pass - Tohoku Area (¥19,000 for advance purchase), which can be used on any 5 days within a 14-day period.
If your travel plans include other parts of the country, the better option will be the national Japan Rail Pass. If you plans only include travel around Tohoku and Hokkaido, consider the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, which is slightly cheaper than the national pass (¥26,000 for advance purchase) and covers travel from Tokyo to Aomori, Hakodate and Sapporo. It can be used on any 6 days within a 14-day period.
Note that the Green Car version of the national Japan Rail Pass is valid for Green Cars on the Hayate and Hayabusa, but any version of the pass will cover just the basic fare for the premium first class seating on the Hayabusa called "GranClass". Travelers using "GranClass" will be pampered with an all-leather seat resembling business class on an airplane, a personal on-call train attendant, meals and complimentary alcoholic beverages. Rail pass holders willing to partake in such an experience will have to fork over the limited express and GranClass fare (¥16,960 from Tokyo). Without a Rail Pass, "GranClass" costs ¥27,110 between Tokyo and Aomori.
By busAomori, at the northernmost point of Honshu, is the terminating point for several highway buses.
From Tokyo Station, JR Bus Tohoku's La Foret service runs once per night, reaching Aomori in 9 1/2 hours at a cost of ¥9,000 each way on Fridays, Saturdays and the day before holidays, and ¥8,500 on all other days. Konan Bus' Tsugaru runs over the same route; their bus costs ¥7,500 each way, or ¥9,000 during peak travel periods.
From Ueno Station in Tokyo, Konan Bus runs discounted bus services to Aomori: a daytime service called Sky (¥5,000) and two night services called Panda (¥4,500; ¥5,000 during peak travel periods). These buses take longer to Aomori - about 11 hours each way - due to an additional stop made in Hirosaki.
Willer Express operates several buses from Tokyo Station, Tokyo Disneyland and Shinjuku to Aomori with prices starting from about ¥5,000. Bookings can be made online in English.
Four bus operators jointly run Blue City daytime buses between Sendai and Aomori (5 hours, ¥5,700). There are more runs during the summer months than the rest of the year.
Seikan Ferry and Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry operate ferry services from Aomori to the port of Hakodate with multiple departures daily. Trips take 3 hrs 45 min. One way fares are cheapest on the Seikan Ferry, ¥1600 for a carpet space. The Tsugaru Kaikyo's Blue Dolphin ferry offers several classes of service, from standard carpet space (¥2220 one-way) up to a suite with two beds and an in-room shower and toilet (¥4940 one-way) and a luxurious suite that adds a living room (¥12,340 one-way). Note that during peak travel periods, these fares are higher.
Tsugaru Kaikyo offers online booking of all of their ferry services in English through a third party. Fares are paid in euros and reservations are confirmed within 48 hours of booking. They also offer checked baggage service for an extra fee.
Cars and motorcycles can also be carried on some of these ferries.
Buses: Go to the bus terminal outside the train station and tell the attendant at the city bus counter where you'd like to go. He or she will tell you which number bus stop to wait at, what time the bus will come, and where to get off. On city buses, you'll pay when you get off the bus.
The Nebutan-go shuttle bus runs clockwise and counter-clockwise circles stopping at both Aomori and Shin-Aomori Stations, the Prefectural Art Museum, and other tourist sites about once an hour during the morning and afternoon. 200 yen per ride; a one-day pass is 500 yen.
Anything in the downtown Shinmachi area is easily accessible by foot.
Information centerIn this well-staffed center you can make enquiries about the city, accommodation and transportation.
phone: +81 17-752-1311address: 1 Chome-1-1 Yasukata, Aomori, Aomori Prefecture 030-0803The distinctive red building houses exhibits about the Nebuta, including several floats, if you're unable to make it during festival season.
Aomori Bay BridgeThis bridge spans a short harbor inlet that could easily be walked around in five minutes, so it appears to be basically an excuse for public funding as a tourist attraction.
Hakkōda-maru Memorial ShipThe ferry which connected Hokkaido and Aomori prior to the building of the Seikan Submarine Tunnel is now a somewhat run down museum, but worth checking out if you're interested in regional history, trains, or boats. The rear part of the deck of the ferry serves as a beer garden on summer nights.
Tsugaru Kaikyō Fuyu-GeshikiThis memorial alongside the ferry terminal looks like it might honor some historical event or local hero, but it's actually dedicated to a song. Meaning "Tsugaru Strait winter scenery", the 1977 hit ballad is an all-time karaoke favorite.
ASPAM (Aomori Prefecture Tourist Center)A large triangular building that can be easily spotted from the train station or the bridge, this is the tourism center for all of Aomori prefecture. It includes a movie about the prefecture (Japanese only) and an observation deck with views of the harbor and city (extra charge).
Aomori Prefectural MuseumExhibits about the natural and cultural history of Aomori prefecture.
Utou ShrineThere are nice gardens and ponds tucked away behind the main shrine. There's also a "power spot" it's said if you wash your coins in a certain fountain there, you'll be free from money troubles.
Sannai MaruyamaA historical site dedicated to the Jomon people, as many Jomon artifacts and construction remains have been uncovered here. The special significance of this site is that there are two types of constructions that indicate a change from a nomadic to a sedentary way of life. The site has reconstructions of buildings from the Jomon area. As the Jomon diet seems to have included chestnuts, don't miss the chestnut ice cream cones in the gift shop.
phone: +81 17-783-3000address: 185 Chikano, Yasuta, Aomori City, Aomori Pref. 038-0021A well maintained museum with a permanent collection featuring Marc Chagall's backdrops for Aleko, large collections by Aomori natives Yoshitomo Nara, Shiko Munakata, and other artists from Aomori and abroad. The Sannai Maruyama site is within walking distance.
Asamushi OnsenA hot springs resort town on Mutsu bay with a large number of inns. At many of the inns and hotels, you can pay a small fee to use the bath even if you're not staying overnight.
Asamushi AquariumA nice aquarium that features a dolphin show and a transparent underwater tunnel.
phone: +81177523341address: 〒039-3501 青森県青森市大字浅虫字内野14One of many traditional inns in Asamushi Onsen. There are options for day plans and overnight stays with meals and access to the hot spring bath.
Aomori Nebuta FestivalThis is Aomori's most famous festival. The town suddenly becomes very lively, with many street stalls. The main feature is the evening parade with huge illuminated paper lanterns and costumed dancers. The final day of the festival concludes with an extensive fireworks display while some of the Nebuta lanterns float around the bay on boats. Everybody can join the parade, as long as they wear the festival costume. To rent the costume, enquire at the tourist center next to the train station.
Machinaka OnsenIf you're tired, weary, and want a bath without going all the way to Asamushi Onsen, you can enjoy a hot spring bath just a few minutes walk from Aomori Station. The small bath outside is nice.
phone: +81177380343address: 1 - 12, Kansuizawa, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori-ken, Japan 030-0188The ropeway operates year round for skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and anyone who just wants to see the view from the Hakkoda Mountains. You can snowboard until May here.
Moya HillsSki resort close to the city. Roller luge, camping, and special events in the summer.
ASPAMFor loading up on regional souvenirs, head to ASPAM, the unusual-looking triangular building located just behind the bridge on the harbor. It contains an exhibition hall for promoting tourism and local products.
A-FACTORYFor edible souvenirs and local food products, stop by A-FACTORY next to Aomori Station. There are several take-out cafes and places to sit and eat on the boardwalk overlooking the bay. Sparkling apple wine called "cidre" is also made, sold, and served here (non-alcoholic cidre is also available). The restaurant upstairs specializes in dishes featuring French buckwheat crepes and local ingredients.
Murata Kogeiaddress: 030-0801 Aomori-ken, Aomori-shi, Shinmachi, 1 Chome−9−18A wide selection of souvenirs and gifts from Aomori, as well as other Japanese decorative items.
Aomori's list of food specialties is extensive, but the headliners include apples, scallops, and garlic.
Aomori Gyosai Centeraddress: 1-11-16 Furukawa, Aomori-CityIf you're looking for a unique lunch featuring lots of fresh, local seafood, try making your own nokkedon sushi bowl at this seafood and vegetable market. First, buy tickets from the counter with the 丼 flag. Get a bowl of rice, and then trade your tickets for the toppings of your choice from vendors throughout the market. You can eat and help yourself to tea at picnic tables throughout the market.
OsanaiA small restaurant that serves local meals at a reasonable price. Try the scallops (hotate), or the local dish made of soup with seafood containing sea urchins, scallops and egg, and served on a plate that resembles a large scallop shell.
Cafe Skyline Gustoaddress: ShinmachiA chain diner to comfort the weary foreign travelers with late hours, a relaxed atmosphere, a self-serve soft-drink bar, and familiar menu items, all with pictures.
Hotate-goyaScallops are an Aomori specialty, and you can catch and eat your own at Hotate-goya, the "scallop shack." For 500 yen, you have three minutes to catch as many as you want, which you can than grill or eat raw. Or you can just order off the menu.
Aji no Sapporo Asariaddress: 〒030-0801 Aomori Prefecture, Aomori, Shinmachi, 1 Chome−11−23 小林第二ビル 1FOnce of Aomori's more unusual specialties is "miso-curry-milk ramen." You can try it at this tiny ramen shop next to the Alaska Hotel.
SaigonIf you want a break from Japanese food, Saigon has a crazy potpourri of "ethnic" food from Asia, the Americas, and beyond. The menu has lots of pictures. There's an extensive drink menu with "all you can drink" (nomihodai) options available.
FuraiboIf you find yourself looking for breakfast before 8AM, try this weird little cafe with electronic card games for tables. The morning set is a bargain at about ¥500, with buttered toast, salad, ham, a fried egg, and syphon-brewed coffee. You may be sharing the cafe with some folks having morning ramen at the end of a night of drinking.
Maronphone: +81 17-722-4575address: Yasukata, 2 Chome−6−7Casual cafe with decorated with old clocks and other antique knick-knacks. Morning set, lunch items and sweets available.
Smile and Spoon Kitchen Studiophone: +81 17-773-2535address: 青柳2丁目2-16Right around the corner from Hotel Aomori. This little cafe has a daily lunch special and a "trip around the world" lunch from a new country each week.
Karaoke U-StyleA large karaoke chain that has a branch about four or five blocks down the main street on the left. This location has a nice selection of English songs and, of course, offers all you can drink plans.
Passage HirobaPassage Hiroba is a courtyard on the right side of the main street. There are several bars, taverns, and eateries. You can drink outside during warm weather.
Cafe BERRY BERRYStandard bar fare plus darts.
Pent Housephone: +81 17-762-7218address: Furukawa, 1 Chome−17−21 スノーランドビル3階A hip second floor cafe lounge with cozy sofas, big floor cushions, and a ping pong table. Skip the skimpy tacos and invest in the fresh guacamole.
Hotel Sunroute AomoriFor drinks, try Hana-no-ya, the sumo-themed tavern in the basement. If you opt for breakfast, you can enjoy a view of the Mutsu Bay while trying lots of prefectural specialties like Hachinohe's senbei soup, or miso, egg, and scallop cooked in a scallop shell.
Hotel Crown PalaisIn the Honcho entertainment area. It looks fancy on the website, but the worn-out guest rooms could use a refurbish.
Apple PalaceThis hotel has an onsen.
address: 1 Chome-1-23 Tsutsumimachi Aomori, Aomori Prefecture 030-0812Considered one of the nicer hotels in Aomori and popular for weddings and meetings. Single rooms are small but clean.
AugaThere's a computer corner called Ai Plaza on the fourth floor of the Auga department store. You can use computers for up to one hour and print up to 5 pages. There's a library on floors 6-8.
StarbucksYou can use free wifi at the Starbucks on the second floor of Lovina next to the station. You may have to register or sign in with a social media account to connect.
- Hirosaki, the "Kyoto of the North", is 45 minutes away by train.
- The Shimokita Peninsula, one of the most remote but also one of the most beautiful places in Japan, is a few hours away by train.
- Towada-Hachimantai National Park for day trips or overnight stays at onsen ryokan. Hike in the Hakkoda Mountains from trails accessible from Sukayu Onsen or the local cable car, both of which have stops about an hour away from Aomori on a stunning Japan Rail bus ride (covered by JR Pass). Less strenuous hiking along the Oirase Stream and waterfalls, or a visit to Lake Towada are also possible on the same route, 2-3 hours from Aomori.
- Hakodate, Hokkaido is two hours away by train.