Ah, finally back to Japan! This autumn trip Japan I will explore Tohoku. Tohoku is a region in Japan which is subdivided into several prefectures. This prefecture is similar to a province in Indonesia. There are six prefectures in Tohoku include Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi, and Fukushima.
Luckily, I was able to visit all of them, so stay tuned for my writings about Tohoku in the next few posts!
From Soekarno Hatta I took the airline Japan Airlines (JAL), national flag carrier from Japan. You can read my review on Japan airlines here. Japan Airlines prices are relatively cheap if travel fair lol, so don’t miss it if there’s one later Japan Travel Fair again. I’ll let you know on social media later!
JAL’s brief review: The seats are good, when I go I use the economy premium. Legs can stretch! The economy cabin is also spacious, the configuration of seats is 2-4-2 on a wide-body Boeing 787. I can still work on my 15-inch MacBook Pro as I write this when I return to Jakarta.
Perfect cabin temperature! Usually other airlines have a temperature like a refrigerator. Use JAL at a comfortable temperature, you don’t need a blanket. There is halal food if you order. But when leaving for a night flight, JAL shouldn’t need to give big food, it’s better to eat big at breakfast because in the morning I’m starving! Overall, recommended!
From Narita I immediately took the Narita Express train to Tokyo Station to catch the shinkansen train to Tohoku. If you want to explore the Tohoku area, I suggest you use the JR east pass to access the shinkansen as well as local trains and other JR buses. The JR east pass is cheaper because it is only intended for the east area, unlike the JR pass which covers all areas in Japan.
Well luckily, on this trip I explored Tohoku together Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) who provided the car for me and some media colleagues. So you can be satisfied exploring Japan best kept secret this!
Three hours later, I was in Aomori. The distance from Tokyo Station to Aomori Station is about 700 km. Similar to Jakarta, Surabaya. When did Indonesia have a fast train like this?
Not far from JR Aomori station I just walked 5 minutes north towards Nebuta House or also known as Nebuta Wa Rasse. This place contains everything about the Nebuta Festival. This festival is held every summer in August in Aomori. This event attracts a lot of tourists because of its excitement!
You should know, this festival has been around for more than 300 years!
Nebuta himself is a figure like a giant knight doll that is made to appear to float, is made of paper, has a lamp installed inside like a lantern, and it can take three months to make!
I was blown away by Nebuta’s construction. In some parts there cut-out Nebuta so that you can see the inside. The Nebuta theme changes every year so this place becomes a Nebuta display place from previous years
“Rasee Rasee Raseeera!” This scream greeted me as I entered the nebuta house. It turns out that every weekend and holidays there is a show here. Kind of a festival but a mini version. And visitors can try to dance and beat Taikothe drum that accompanied the dancers who also accompanied Nebuta.
When the MC asked who wanted to try hitting Taiko, without thinking I immediately stepped forward. It was a fun experience! Some visitors to Wa rasse also danced to the front while shouting Rasserā. The reply spoken by the Nebuta dancers to invite everyone to join in.
The Nebuta Festival is an annual summer festival in Japan. One of the most lively festivals in the Tohoku area. This Nebuta house, which has a very instagram-able exterior, stores a lot of nebuta from various years. The nebuta is quite scary but funny at the same time!
I want to come back here when the festival takes place next August!
Oh yes, the location of Nebuta House is around Aomori Waterfront. Around here there are also several interesting places such as Aomori’s Tourist information center where you can go up to the top floor and see the city of Aomori from a height. There is also a shop and cafe called A-Factory that sells apples and their processed products. Aomori is known as the best apple producer in Japan, so you must try apples here!
Eat Seafood at Takakyu Nebuta & Watch Scoope Shamisen
That night I ate seafood at this restaurant. The seafood menu is great, but the best part is that this restaurant has live shows every night!
For that night the show was Tsugaru-Jamisen. This traditional Okinawan guitar solo is performed by an old man whose voice is so powerful! Standing applause! I’ll upload the video on YouTube later.
Then the next show seems to be a mix of stand-up comedy and Japanese-style slapstick comedy. The mas performer is wearing a pig costume like ti pat kai from the magic monkey series.
After making everyone laugh, he invited us all to dance, then closed by hitting each one on the head with a giant hammer-shaped balloon. Of course, joking. Incidentally the restaurant was busy with employees having an ‘afterwork party’ so the atmosphere was very lively!
After eating I went to a cafe called Safuro which is less than 5 minutes away by taxi. There is also a Tsugaru Shamisen performance here, but the difference is….if the Takakyu restaurant uses real musical instruments, here they use shovels and bottle openers!
Huh? So how do you do it?
Turns out this Scoope Shamisen is a lip-sync comedy version of Tsugaru Shamisen. He uses a shovel for his guitar and a corkscrew for a guitar pick and taps them to the beat of Tsugaru Shamisen’s recorded song.
First of all I guess Oji-san (a nickname for a middle-aged man in Japan, equivalent to uncle) this is kind of crazy. But because of his funny and very entertaining expressions, I also enjoyed the show.
The tap of the bottle cap to the spade is perfectly precise with the rhythm. His very comical face made me laugh even though I didn’t understand what he was saying. It reminded me of the air guitar competition in an anime. This is really Japanese ha ha!
Before long I was invited to the front and given a shovel and a bottle opener. I went crazy too!
Hakkoda Mountain ropeway
The next morning I headed to Mount Hakkoda to climb to the top. Of course not with trekking for hours, but only taking the Hakkoda Ropeway cable car which only takes 10 minutes. To get here you can take the JR Tohoku bus from Aomori city.
But alas, it’s only 10 minutes. Because the view from the top of this cable car is really surreal! I came here in mid-October. The leaves have turned yellow, red, and some have fallen. As a tropical resident, this is truly a sight that takes my breath away.
The Hakkoda ropeway takes us up from a height of 670.5 meters to a height of 1320 meters with a distance of 2.3 km. The price for a round trip is 1850 yen as of October 2017. On top of that there is also another trekking route for those who want to explore more.
Unfortunately when he reached the top of the fog descended. Strong winds and drizzle made me not linger outside.
The cable car is very full. Especially when it’s peak autumn like this. The queue was snaking. Make sure you get a seat in the front left corner for the best view. If you can get it in the middle, it’s the same as taking the Tanah Abang train on your way home from work.
In winter Hakkoda is also famous for skiing. I can imagine how the leaves of these trees fell and were covered with snow!
Have you ever seen a computer wallpaper with a picture of a valley with a river in a yellowing autumn forest beneath? This is the place!
But earlier on my way here, I stopped at this very autumn-genic bridge. His name is Yogakura Bridge. There are lots of people taking pictures here. No wonder, just look at the photos below.
In Oirase the air is fresh, there is the sound of running water, the trees are shady, and the atmosphere is very romantic. Especially if you can walk along the 14-kilometer track from Yakeyama at the foot of Mount Hakkoda to Lake Towada in autumn. Truly an unforgettable experience!
In addition, there are also 14 beautiful waterfalls along the way. Tracks for walking exist along the way, but always along with the highway so that those who can’t walk can also enjoy this Oirase.
So the story is that Oirase is a flow from Lake Towada which is a volcanic lake. This river is formed from rocks thrown during volcanic eruptions tens of thousands of years ago.
The day was getting late, I continued my journey to the inn on the shores of Lake Towada on the other side. No longer in Aomori, but in Akita.
My journey to explore Tohoku this fall is still ongoing. Read on in the next post, OK!
Check out other posts from the series Autumn in Tohoku!
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