A Visit to Aomori: Day 1

Hello everyone and welcome back to Tiro Finale for another chapter of Chiba Days. Oh, wait a minute. That is not quite right is it? Indeed, instead of our usual backdrop in the Kanto region, we have decided to take a short trip up north to Aomori. Of course, this is no ordinary trip as there is a very special reason for making our way up to this winter wonderland. Join us as we take a two day trip exploring all the finest attractions in Aomori!

It may only be the beginning of winter but, like many of the areas up north, Aomori is already covered in a layer of snow. Unlike Hokkaido, the snow in Aomori is significantly more manageable especially at this time of the year. In wide open spaces such as these, a blanket of snow covers the open fields overnight while, the skies remain fairly clear throughout the daytime. 

Is that Kyubey I spy with his little red eyes? Indeed it is as this very iconic building is the Aomori Art Museum and a major landmark for Aomori city. The museum staff and organizers have cleverly painted Kyubey's face over the art museum's existing white wall. In case you are worried that you are in the wrong place, Kyubey is there to reassure you that all is fine. 

Aside from the ongoing Aoki Ume Exhibition in the museum, the building itself is host to several permanent art exhibits. Most of them require a separate entry ticket and are not included as part of the temporary exhibition, in this case the Aoki Ume exhibition. While I did not have the time to pay a visit to the permanent exhibits, there were several other free exhibits placed throughout the museum for the community to enjoy. 

Now, you may start to feel a little dismayed at the lack of content and photos regarding the actual exhibition itself. But fear not, as we have reserved the event coverage as a post all to itself. In the meantime, allow us to take you on a quick visual tour around Aomori.

A 10-15 minute walk away from the Aomori Art Museum is the Jomon Historical Site, a prehistoric site of ancient Japanese civilization. The site itself was discovered by accident several decades back while surveying the grounds for a baseball field. Since then, the grounds have been protected as one of the few ancient civilization sites in Japan. 

Rather than just being a Stonehenge-esque site, the local city council has done a lot to ensure the preservation and continued education and awareness regarding the site. As such, there are guided tours, theaters and a whole museum aside from the grounds which visitors have access to. The best part of it all is, everything is absolutely free. 

On the actual grounds itself, visitors are allowed to freely walk around what used to be the dwelling areas once used by the community living here thousands of years ago. Most of the huts and buildings are recreations but, they have been replicated faithfully employing techniques and material that would have been used back then. 

In fact, every single hut and building has been set up in accordance to their historical positions based off archeological findings. From the smaller huts to this large community workshop, every one of them were accurately positioned using the pillar marks in the ground as a guide. 

Throughout the village, you would see a wide variety of structures. From small huts to these elevated shacks, they helped to capture how life was like many thousands of years back. Looking at the picture above, the electrical pylon certainly creates a unique form of juxtaposition between the past and the present. 

It is also worth noting that these structures are not just for show as visitors are even allowed to enter them. These huts were common dwelling for families back then and without any windows, they were pitch black and cold as night on the inside. The thawing snow also did not help with both the smell and randomly falling water drops. 

While it would have been nice to enter every structure, some are unfortunately out of limits such as the elevated huts. It may not be a problem so much about the structural rigidity of the hut but, rather the safety concerns regarding an elevated platform and visitors. With no full time staff patrolling the historical site, it would be hard to ensure the safety of all visitors. 

Of course, once you are done with the historical site itself, there are plenty other things to peruse such as the aforementioned museum and theater. If you are feeling hungry, there is a fully functioning cafeteria and those looking for souvenirs can find them in the gift shops. And after you are done with all that, you can take a bus right outside the doorstep of the historical site which brings you straight back to Aomori station. For an entire complimentary attraction, I cannot stress enough how well executed every thing is.

With both the Aomori Art Museum and the Jomon Historical Site ticked off the list, it was time to head back to the city with the sun beginning to set as early as 4 pm. By the time things got dark in Aomori, everything slowed down significantly with many of the shops even closing at 5 pm. If you ever plan on visiting Aomori, do make sure you start your day early!

The day may have come to and end but, that is only the first part of our adventures as the next day we will take a look at two of Aomori's biggest claim-to-fame, apples and festivals. Until then, thank you so much for reading and have yourself a wonderful day ahead!


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