Welcome back to Mogami's Japanese Wellness Tour
Through this virtual wellness tour around Japan, we hope to introduce to you a few wellness-related facts about each prefecture alongside traditional Japanese crafts (伝統工芸品 dentou-kougei-hin) that have been practised, mastered and treasured over decades, especially as incorporating creativity and hands-on arts is one of the wellness principles that we focus on at Mogami.
At Mogami, we appreciate that practising your creative self is essential to long-term wellbeing.
Our goal is to highlight each prefecture's wellness practices to empower you to take control of your holistic wellbeing in a way that works for you.
Come along to discover, learn, and experience each prefecture's beauty and speciality.
Onto the third destination of our tour: Aomori
Aomori Prefecture is a popular tourist destination known for its stunning mountains and valleys. Its name, 青森 in Kanji has the literal meaning of "blue forest," which reflects the blue oceans surrounding it and the green forests scattered across its landscape.
Saori, the Founder of Mogami, has a deep connection to Aomori, her mother's hometown. She's grateful to the prefecture for helping her connect with herself through its natural beauty.
Aomori's reputation as a natural haven with untouched landscapes resonates strongly with Mogami's core values. The prefecture's abundant natural beauty and wellness offerings showcase how our principles and practices can seamlessly converge in their best and most practical forms in a rejuvenating, tranquil location like Aomori.
Iwakisan Jinja in Hirosaki City, Aomori
Did you know?
Aomori Prefecture is nestled in the northernmost part of Honshu Island. It offers a captivating blend of culture, nature, and traditional festivals and crafts that showcase the region's rich heritage.
Aomori in spring
One of its iconic symbols is Mount Osore, located in the Shimokita Peninsula. This mystical mountain, also known as Osorezan in Japanese, holds great spiritual significance. It is believed to be the gateway between the living world and the afterlife in Japanese folklore. The volcanic landscape, bubbling hot springs, and eerie atmosphere make it an exceptional destination for those seeking a spiritual journey.
Aomori is home to the breathtaking Hirosaki Castle. This beautifully preserved castle is surrounded by picturesque cherry blossom gardens, attracting visitors during the spring Hanami season. The castle's striking black-and-white facade and its commanding presence make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Hirosaki Castle in spring
Aomori Prefecture is also a gateway to explore the pristine natural wonders of the region, such as the Shirakami-Sanchi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient primaeval forest boasts a diverse ecosystem, including the rare beech trees known as Aomori-kaede. Hiking trails allow you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the forest, providing a serene and rejuvenating forest-bathing, or shinrin-yoku experience.
Shirakami-Sanchi in summer
A few of our top ryokan recommendations:
Sukayu Onsen Ryokan (https://sukayu.jp/): This onsen ryokan offers an authentic and historical onsen experience. Guests can enjoy the renowned "sennin-buro" (thousand-person bath) and indulge in the tranquil surroundings of the Hakkoda Mountains. The ryokan provides traditional Japanese accommodations and delicious local cuisine, making it a perfect retreat for onsen enthusiasts.
Asamushi Onsen (https://www.asamushi.com/): This onsen resort area, located on the coast of Aomori Prefecture, is another must-visit, and offers various ryokans, each with its own unique charm. Guests can soak in the mineral-rich waters while enjoying views of the sea and savouring fresh seafood delicacies.
Japanese Summer Festival: Nebuta Matsuri
Aomori is renowned for its vibrant festivals, with the Nebuta Festival standing out as the most famous.
Held in early August, this dazzling celebration features enormous illuminated floats adorned with intricate paper lanterns depicting legendary warriors and mythical creatures. These elaborately crafted floats are paraded through the streets, accompanied by lively music, traditional dance performances, and energetic taiko drumming, captivating spectators from near and far.
Nebuta Festival 2023
The festival culminates in a spectacular fireworks display, creating a mesmerising spectacle that attracts visitors from all over Japan and beyond.
Nebuta Festival lantern floats
Gastronomy in Aomori
Aomori Prefecture is also a culinary treasure trove, featuring a delightful fusion of fresh seafood and high-quality apples. Its coastal location ensures an abundance and variety of seafood delicacies, such as those found in Hachinohe's Hasshoku Center.
Hachinohe fish market
The region is famous for the "Nokkedon," a rice bowl topped with a variety of freshly caught seafood, providing an authentic taste of the sea.
Aomori's local apple industry is equally impressive, earning it the title of the "Kingdom of Apples," producing a wide range of apple-based products, from fresh juice and exquisite pies to uniquely flavoured apple-infused sake.
Aomori traditional craft: Tsugaru-nuri
One of the prominent traditional crafts is Tsugaru-nuri lacquerware, an intricate art form involving multiple layers of lacquer carefully applied to wooden objects, followed by delicate hand-painted designs. Renowned for its vibrant colours, intricate patterns, and glossy finish, Tsugaru-nuri showcases the true craftsmanship of Aomori. From decorative plates and bowls to exquisite jewellery boxes, each piece of Tsugaru-nuri lacquerware reflects the meticulous dedication and skill of the artisans.
The origin of Tsugaru-nuri dates back to the end of the 17th century when Tsugaru Nobumasa, the lord of the Tsugaru domain, encouraged lacquer crafts as part of his economic policy. This extraordinary art form stands out for its distinctive patterns, such as the "Karan-nuri," where egg white is mixed into the lacquer to create a sticky texture, allowing coloured lacquer to be applied over the uneven surface with a spatula.
Tsugaru-nuri showcases various lacquering techniques, including karan-nuri, nanako-nuri, nishiki-nuri, and monsan-nuri, each adding a special touch to the finished pieces. With its deep-rooted history and exquisite craftsmanship, Tsugaru-nuri is a testament to the artistic legacy of Aomori Prefecture.
Tsugaru-nuri Craftsmen & local businesses based in Aomori
At Mogami, we value the beauty of Japanese craftsmanship and like to shed light on local businesses that continue to practise these traditions with thoughtfulness and intention.
A few of our highlights of Tsugaru-nuri Craftsmen & local businesses based in Aomori
Tsugaru-nuri Tanaka｜Manufacture and sale of Tsugaru-nuri lacquerware since 1947: @tsugarunuri_tanaka
Kobayashi Lacquerware, a manufacturer specialising in Tsugaru-nuri, proudly continuing the legacy of Tsugaru traditions by perpetuating ancient techniques through six generations: @kobayashi_shikki
When visiting Aomori, make sure to explore the local craft markets and shops, such as the A-Factory (https://jre-abc.com/wp/afactory/) in Aomori City, where you can witness artisans at work and purchase unique handmade crafts directly from the creators. These crafts are ideal souvenirs and beautiful additions to your home decor, letting you take a bit of Aomori's artistic legacy with you.
With its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and vibrant festivals, Aomori Prefecture offers a captivating journey through Japan's history and natural wonders. Whether you're exploring the mystical Mount Osore, joining the excitement of the Nebuta Festival, or savouring the local delicacies, Aomori is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart and soul.
Exploring Aomori's traditional crafts provides a deeper understanding of the region's cultural heritage and artistic expression. Aomori's traditional crafts are a testament to the passion and creativity that has been passed down through generations. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Aomori on your next trip to Japan!
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We are thrilled to have you continue to join us on a journey of discovery and immerse yourself in Japan's vibrant yet harmonious culture.
Stay tuned for our next destination! 👋🏻