31 January 2011

Aoni Onsen in Kuroishi (青荷温泉、黒石市)

Take a step back in time at Aoni Onsen, the inn lit solely by lanterns. There are four different baths to relax in, including a mixed outdoor bath (konyoku, 混浴). Almost every bath has both inside and outside sections, and it's quite an experience bathing whilst surrounded by snow.

Be sure to watch your step at night when the road to your room is lit by candlelight, as it's easy to get carried away by the beautiful scenery. Aoni Onsen regularly hosts international guests, so you should feel right at home.  This peaceful and unique inn hidden in the Aomori mountains is definitely worth the break from modern convenience.

Location: Aomori, Kuroishi, Okiura, Takinoue, Aonisawa 1-7
Due to its remote location, guests are unable to drive directly to the onsen. Leave your car in the parking lot at Nijinoko Park (free of charge) and a friendly bus driver will pick you up at 14:00 (winter only), 15:00 and 16:00 daily. Look out for the road signs written in the Tsugaru dialect along the way!

Address of the shuttle bus station (Nijinoko Park 虹の湖公園):
1-5 Ji Yama Kami, Ooaza Okiura, Kuroishi, Aomori 
虹の湖公園 〒036-0402 青森県黒石市大字沖浦字山神1−5 
(click here for directions from Kashiwa Jusco) 
Contact: 0172-54-8588 (no English speaker may be available)
Price: ¥10,650 per night (dinner and breakfast included)

26 January 2011

CHEAP Season-Long Ski Equipment Rentals

Want to go skiing for a season, but don't have your own skis and don't want to rent them every time you go?  I've got the place for you!  Rent, skis, poles, and boots for ¥5,250 for an entire season!  I don't know if they'll have your size or not, and as the season is under way, they may not have as many supplies as earlier, but check it out!

Name of the store: Yojigen Poketto (四次元ポケット)
Address: 〒037-0004 Goshogawara Toukasa Yanagiji Fujimaki 509-16
五所川原市唐笠柳字藤巻509-16 (click here for directions from Jusco)
Contact: 0120-38-3226 (English speaker may not be available)

25 January 2011

Tsugaru's Winter Stove Train (津軽鉄道 ストーブ列車)

It wouldn't quite be winter in Tsugaru without the stove train.  Enjoy the beautiful winter scenery of the Tsugaru area in a heated site-seeing train.  An announcer (speaking in Japanese) even explains the sites.  While I haven't had the chance to do this yet (plan to do it during the next couple of weeks), I heard about it from a Japanese friend who lives in Goshogawara, and saw an advertisement for it on the bullet train from Tokyo.  It's really close, and it's an inexpensive way to spend a couple of hours on your day off.

* December 27 through March 31 
* 9:25, 11:40, 14:10 (train departure times from Goshogawara station)
* Everyday of the week
Location:  From Goshogawara station to Nakasato Station (五所川原駅~中里駅)

Entry: Regular train fee between Goshogawara and Nagasato + a 300 yen 'stove train' fee
* Adults:¥840 + ¥300 = ¥1140
* Children: ¥420 + ¥300 = ¥720

Questions: 0713-34-2148 (English speaker may not be available)

Website: please click here!

20 January 2011

New Aomori City Nebuta Museum!

Nebuta no Ie Warasse  (ねぶたの家 ワラッセ)
Nebuta Float Inside the Museum

The ultimate Nebuta experience! I had the chance to visit this newly opened museum a couple of weeks ago, and had a great time.  Inside there are a bunch of floats from Aomori`s Nebuta festival, and you can learn about the history of the Nebuta Festival.  There is also a restaurant, cafe, and shop inside.  To add to that, it`s just a minute`s walk from Aomori station, so it`s very accessible!
Museum Outside Vie
Location: Aomori City, one minute walking from Aomori Station (see map)

Event Entry: 
Adults: 600 yen
Highschoolers: 450 yen
Middle and elementary schoolers: 250 yen
Parking:  There is a parking lot next to the building (210 yen for the first hour and 100 yen every thirty minutes after that)

September to April: 9:00 to 18:00
May through August: 9:00 to 19:00
September to April: 11:00 to 19:00
May through August: 11:00 to 20:00
September to April: 10:00 to 19:00
May through August: 10:00 to 20:00
September to April: 9:00 to 18:30
May through August: 9:00 to 19:30

Questions: 017-752-1311 
(English assistance may not be available)

Link to Picture 1   Link to Picture 2

19 January 2011

Tsugaru and Goshogawara Winter Event Information

Tsugaru Earth Village Winter Story Festival:

Come join in the winter fun at our very own winter event in Tsugaru.  Activities include making the world's longest 'banana boat' dessert, a 'slippery ski' game, various other games, and fireworks!  Food unique to Tsugaru is also served.

Dates: February 12th, 2011

Time:  From 12:00
(Reservation desk from 11:00 and fireworks at 17:30)

Location: Tsugaru Earth Village International Exchange Plaza

Event Entry: Free

Questions: 0173 (26) 2855
(English assistance may not be available)

**In order to participate in making the world's largest banana boat dessert, or the 'slippery ski' game, you must sign up, so show up early! 

Picture from: http://www.mutusinpou.co.jp/news/2008/02/812.html

Major Winter Festivals Throughout Aomori!

Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival(弘前城雪燈籠まつり

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of Hirosaki castle illuminated with lights, as well as over 50 snow lanterns and 300 snow statues.

Dates: February 10th through February 13, 2011.
Location: Hirosaki City, Hirosaki Koen 
(青森県弘前市 弘前公園)
Time: Sunset to 21:00
Event Entry: Free
Questions: 0172-37-5501
(English assistance may not be available)
Directions: Click here for map from Jusco
Towada Snow and Light Fantavista(十和田湖冬物語)
Be part of the mysterious story that unfolds during this 24-day festival, which features fireworks everyday, shamisen performances, snow statues and snow lanterns.  In addition, sample Aomori and Akita local food, grab a drink at the ice bar, or try your hand at various local crafts.
Dates: February 4th through February 27, 2011.
Time: Weekdays: 15:00 to 21:00+
          Weekends and holidays: 11:00 to 21:00+
          (Most activities, such as fireworks, are at night)
Location: Towada City (click here for directions from Jusco)
018-5501 Aomori-ken Towada-shi Ooaza Okuseji Towada-ko Azekyuuya 486
Event Entry: Free (However, making local crafts costs money)
Questions: 0176-75-2425 (English assistance may not be available)

Hachinohe Enburi Dance (八戸えんぶり)

Come watch the performing art that is considered a Japanese national treasure. Donning lacquer head gear in the image of steeds, dancers pray for a bountiful harvest.  There are a variety of troupes and dances, so see below for one that fits your schedule and tastes.

Dates and Times: February 17th through February 20th, 2011.
Opening Enburi performance at Choujayamashinra Temple
17th (7:00)
Enburi Picture Taking Performance
Enburi Performance for the Hachinohe`s mayor
17th (12:30)
Large 30-Group Performance in Downtown Hachinohe
17th (10:40)
Bonfire Enburi Night Dance
17th,19th,20th (18:00,19:00, 20:00)
18th (18:00, 19:30)
Park Enburi Dance (Includes Sweet Sake and Soup)
17th~22nd (18:00, 20:00)
16:00 (only on the 17th, 18th)
Enburi Stage Performance (At a performance hall)
17th~18th (13:00~16:00)
General Performance
    19th~20th (13:00,14:00)
Location: Various locations throughout Hachinohe. If interested in a time, comment and I'll tell you where.
Event Entry: Park Enburi Dance \2000              (Reservations)
                     Enburi Stage Performance \1000   (Reservations)
Contact: 0187-27-4243
(English assistance may not be available)

**If you need help with reservations, let me know, and I`ll help!

Pictures from http://www.jreast.co.jp/tabidoki/winter/index.html?src=adw