At some point in September, we had a national holiday coming up. Me and Vera decided to take advantage of that and since the winter was indeed coming, why not just go to Hokkaido and scratch that out from our list, before it gets too cold.
We started to plan everything and soon realized that we were not going to be able to book a place to sleep in advance. For some reason everywhere was booked. However, we though “what tha heck, we already decided to go, let’s just take a chance and see what happens”.
Oh sweet innocence…
Planning and Departing
And so it was, we packed our clothes for the cold Autumn in Hokkaido, booked the bus tickets to Aomori and there we went.
Our JR bus and view to Aomori City
Omiyage at the service station
Aomori is where trains to Hokkaido cross the water between the islands of Honshu, the main Island, and Hokkaido. The plan was to take a bus to Aomori and then change for a train to Sapporo.
Aomori city JR Station
Thus we reach the why this post is not named Sapporo. We got off the bus and went to the train ticket office where in broken English I asked “Kyou no densha, Sapporo made, futatsu onegaishimasu” to which I received a long answer with many “sumimasen” and “dame” and “nai”, which summed up meant we would not be getting anywhere.
After a couple of minutes the lady did say “accident dakara” and “ashita” and so I told Vera, there’s an accident and we will only have a train tomorrow.
Well, night was coming and we needed food and shelter so we started to roam the streets for lodging. But of course since there were no trains, everywhere was full.
Eventually we did find a room at Aomori sunroute Hotel, which by that time, felt as stroke of fortune.
An unexpected day in Aomori
And so we left our things at the hotel and decided to walk around and see a bit more of the city for that day. Our first stop was a nearby restaurant, of which I just have a picture of the menu to show. It was a kind of chain fast food restaurant.
The menu for our lunch, of which we forgot to take pictures!
We navigated around the shops in the covered area filled with a mix of traditional and convenience stores.
The covered shopping area
We bumped into a city park, 青い森公園, with a small waterfall and lake.
The city park
Eventually we got to the port and being from Lisbon it made me feel that familiar feeling of home. Here we sat down in the benches and relaxed for the end of the afternoon.
City view from the port
There is a lot to do and see in Aomori, the city is mostly known for their Summer festival of nebuta. Nebuta are incredibly large paper lanterns shaped as demonic or famous folklore characters that are paraded around the city.
Although I was never able to visit Aomori during the Summer time, later during my travels I returned to Aomori again and visited the nebuta museum, I will post some pictures of that later.
The traditional local fruit is apple and Aomori prefecture is really famous for apple picking. There are a lot of tours and farms that organize these events, so make sure to look for them, it’s an amazing experience.
To reach Aomori, you can take the Tohoku shinkansen from Tokyo which should take you around 3 and a half hours and about 180 dollars 1 way, if you don’t have the JR Pass.
From Sendai we took a JR Tohoku bus which was less expensive than the train. It took us 2h and 40 minutes, I don’t remember how much it cost but I got all the information at the Tourist Information office at Sendai Station.
Make sure to book everything in advance, especially if it is a long weekend. We learned the hard way that Japanese people plan trips really early on.