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Nebuta Festival (things to do in Aomori)

Your Summer Trip Itinerary: Things to Do in Aomori and Sendai

By Adi Rumale May 4, 2023

Belonging to the northern region of Japan and located below Hokkaido: Aomori and Sendai are two places you must visit in the summer! While they have plenty of tourist attractions throughout the year, these two destinations are especially colorful in the month of August: Aomori hosts the Nebuta Festival celebrations, and Sendai is known for its Tanabata rituals. Let’s look at things to do in Aomori and Sendai! 

Travel to Tohoku: Sendai and Aomori 

A common misconception is that Sendai and Aomori are only worth visiting in the winter for skiing and beautiful snow scenes. While this is a beautiful time to visit the Tohoku area, in summer, Tohoku blooms into a green haven. 

Sendai (仙台), also known as the ‘Green City of Japan’, is tranquil and scenic. This walkable city is also the capital city of the Tohoku Region.

The name Aomori (青森) literally means “Blue Forest”. Aoi (青い) is Japanese for ‘blue’, and mori (森) is Japanese for ‘forest’. 

The Aomori Museum of Art 

art gallery Aomori

Image Credit: Adi Rumale/Guidable Japan 

The little blue umbrellas at the entrance are the first thing you notice when you get to this museum. Tourists often stop here and take pictures. All elements of the museum are modern and minimal. The paintings are bright, and the art is bold. The artists do not shy away from making the viewers slightly uncomfortable. The Aomori Museum of Art is also known for its giant Aomori Dog display. The museum has a souvenir shop and a cafe with tall glass windows that overlook a gorgeous view – delicious coffee, vegetarian food is available here. The Museum has a horizontal white structure – wrapped up in thick snow, it is a sight to behold in winter. You do not want to miss out on this wonderful combination of art, architecture, and nature! 

Aomori Museum of Art Instagram 

Aomori Museum of Art Website 

Nebuta Warasse 

Things to do in Aomori, Nebuta

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The Nebuta Festival takes place every August in Aomori. The celebrations involve a procession with local, traditional music and large Nebuta Floats – characters are made with paper mache, then painted, and intricate systems of yellow lights are fitted inside the structure. Each Nebuta depicts a section of the town’s local folklore. The Nebuta Warasse Museum displays a variety of these structures. On some occasions, the local musicians even perform for the visitors and give them a taste of what the actual festival feels like. This year’s festival is from the 2nd of August to the 7th of August. 

Nebuta Museum Warasse Website

Sendai Castle 

View from Sendai Castle

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Placed on top of a hill, this castle offers a beautiful bird’s eye view of the city. Once you get here, you realize how wonderfully green Sendai truly is. From here, you can spot Sendai’s ARE Building Observatory, tall and short green trees, the sea, green hills, and a statue of the city’s primary military commander: Zuihoden. Elaborate stone memorials, ice cream stalls, and vending machines are present. Grab a refreshment, take a deep breath and soak in the gorgeous view. 

Directions to Sendai Castle 

Osaki Hachimangu Shrine

Sendai Shrine

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The Hachimangu Shrine feels like it was taken from the winding streets of Kyoto! There are two red gates or ‘Torii’s’ and a gigantic staircase to climb. Once you reach the top, you are told to wash your hands and mouth before praying. The architecture is impeccable, particularly the golden embellishments on the ceilings inside the shrine are intricate and delightful to see. Nestled among tall trees, this shrine stands undisturbed from the city. It also contains a small museum that stores ancient Japanese weaponry. All in all, this place is truly fascinating and is a must-see!

Osaki Hachimangu Shrine Official Website 

Ichibancho Shopping Street

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The Ichibancho Shopping Street is a long pathway with rows and rows of shops: here you will find everything from scarves to spectacles. It looks especially wonderful during the Tanabata festival. Colorful fishes hang from the ceiling on the first half of the street: red, green, blue, and pink. The second half of the street is covered with colored paper lanterns. You can shop for Kimonos and Yukatas, grab food, and indulge in the season’s festivities.

A trip to North of Japan: Things to Do in Aomori and Sendai 

When people think of northern Japan, they think of Hokkaido’s flower fields or snow festivals. northern Japan also has other things to offer: there are plenty of things to do in Aomori and Sendai! Art galleries, green sea, parks, cafes, and castles, these places are simple, warm, and welcoming. 

Will you give these destinations a visit? 

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