An evening at Tokyo City View

Tokyo City View, an observation facility located in the center of one of the world’s metropolis, Tokyo, features an indoor observation deck 250 meters above sea level and a Sky Deck outdoor observation deck 270 meters above sea level.

Corridors of Tokyo cityview

Streets of Tokyo from the observation room at Roppongi Hills.

Tokyo Tower

On the way to Tokyo Tower

Mall near Roppongi Hills

Shake Shack

Viki near Hard Rock Cafe

Tokyo Tower

Illuminations at Tokyo Tower

Aomori Bay

Aomori is mainly known for producing apples. But it was not always so…

The first apple saplings were imported in Japan around the year 1871. In the spring of 1875, the Department of Industry Promotion from the Home Ministry sent three apple saplings to Aomori prefecture. The apples that were grown on the grounds of the Aomori Prefectural Office were the beginnings of Aomori’s apples.

Since then Aomori apples have come a long way. Today most of the shops in the city will inevitably offer numerous kinds of apple-based culinary delights. Today however I am going to talk about one of the most photogenic spots in Aomori – the Aomori Bay.

When I was here a couple of years back, I was floored by the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen. Since then Aomori enjoys a special place in my heart. What I love the most the about it is that is just perfect for romantic walks by the sea. You can roam around the Sin-machi Dori, enjoy traditional artifacts at the WaRasse Museum or if you are lucky enough, you might also experience a most beautiful sunset like I did.

At the end of the day, you can just go up the ASPAM building, which is the tallest building in Aomori and enjoy the beautiful city at night while sipping on a warm cup of coffee. In this journal I will talk about a day I spent wandering around the beautiful bay and the incredible spots surrounding it.

Aomori Bay at Dawn

I woke up at dawn, packed my camera gear and left for the bay. I was staying at APA Aomori. The APA Hotel is located at a walk-able distance from the Aomori bay. I have stayed at this hotel before and really liked it. Its perfectly placed, equidistant from the Aomori Bay, Wa Rasse Museum and the Aomori Station.

It was still dark as I made my way towards the Bay. I reached the ASPAM building in few minutes. The Aoiumi Park in front of the ASPAM building was desolate and not a soul was around. As I set up my tripod, the morning glow was just beginning to spread over the city,

Far away towards the east, the Sun was starting to rise. As the Sun was just about to show itself, a long mass of cloud moved in from the south-eastern side and blocked the view. With every passing minute it floated more and more towards the sunrise and that was it. Even though I couldn’t capture the sunrise, the scene was still amazing to look at.

I slowly made my way along the central pier, towards the West Lighthouse. I have some amazing memories of the place from a few years back. Unfortunately the entrance to the lighthouse was locked. I am not really sure at what times they open it or its been closed for a while.

By that time the clouds had totally engulfed the sky, shattering all hopes of catching the rising sun.

However, it was not a total loss as as towards the west the sky was painted in a plethora of vivid colors in the sky. Far on the right you can see the yellow colored ship – Hakkoda-Maru. The ship which used to connect Aomori to Hakodate, was the longest Seikan ferry in operation and is now on exhibition as a memorial ferry.

I spent a few minutes near the bay enjoying the peaceful moment, before morning joggers gradually started showing up. Even though it was a cloudy day, the bay still looked incredible.

Aomori Bay in Daytime

After the peaceful morning at the Bay, I went back to the Hotel to catch up on some breakfast. After a light meal, I walked towards the Aomori Station. This time Mani was with me. It was pleasant surprise to see wild apples growing on the trees on the side-walk.

The day was dull but the queue of lovely Gingko trees near the station brought about a feeling of happiness. The broad, fan-shaped ginkgo leaves turn a brilliant yellow and can be stunning to watch during this time of the year.

We were on our way to the Seir-yu ji Temple in the suburbs of Aomori. If you want something closer you can always enjoy the amazing Nebuta Floats at the Aomori WaRasse Museum.

The Nebuta Museum WA-RASSE is a facility that introduces the history and charms of the Aomori Nebuta Festival. At the museum you can experience every aspect of the festival. On display are life-sized floats that participated in the festival in August, and Nebuta Faces that show the individuality of their respective creators

Just beside the WaRasse Museum you can find the Hakkoda Maru. The now retired ship used to ferry passengers between Aomori and Hakodate from 1964 to 1988 and is now a permanently moored floating museum.

If you take a small detour along the shore, you will pass under the lovely Aomori Bay Bridge. With the Sinmachi Dori nearby, you can find some nice restaurants in the most chirpy area of Aomori.

After lunch I would recommend a leisurely walk at Aoiumi Park along the bay. The park is decorated with some Momiji as well as Gingko trees.

Aomori Bay at Sunset

Because of its strategic location of the city, you get some really beautiful sunsets at Aomori. Click here to see my pictures of one of the most beautiful sunsets at Aomori.

For us it was not meant to be. The clouds had gathered up strongly but if you want to see what a glorious sunset looks like at Aomori bay, click the button below to read my story on the most memorable sunset I have ever been witness to.

Aomori Bay at Night

Finally, If you are willing to slug it out through the evening, the ASPAM building is the place to be. It is the perfect place to crown a lovely evening. Admire the unusual pyramid building that houses the Aomori Prefecture Tourist Center, ASPAM. Its platform on the twelfth floor offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Aomori bay and the city. I specially love the way you can capture the iconic Bay Bridge along with Aomori’s skyline.

It was still raining incessantly so we stayed at the coffee shop for a little longer. For photo enthusiasts. using a tripod is allowed inside. I would recommend using a lens skirt to take photos from inside the tower, so the reflections wont damage the photos.

Once the rain relented, we walked down to the Aomori Bay Bridge which looked so beautiful from the top of the ASPAM building. You don’t have to go all the way to where the flyover touches base. The bridge can be accessed from the pier by stairs. Just before you alight onto the main bridge you can see some beautiful designed street lamps. This shot was taken handheld using my Samsung S9+ device. It does surprise me more often that not.

We walked a bit further along the cable-stayed bridge overlooking the bay.
It’s the second longest bridge in Aomori Prefecture after the Hachinohe Ōhashi Bridge.

On the other side the ASPAM building was looking incredible lit up in changing colors.

So, there it is. I was certainly tired from the long day. But I was excited to post the pictures I shot. Even though the day was dull with cloud hanging over at all times, the pictures did come out interestingly well.

Aomori Bay is a nice and relaxing place to hang out. It is a major tourism attraction with many popular sights of historical, cultural, and local festivals. Even though it was my second visit to the city, I still haven’t had enough of it. Thanks for reading. I look forward to your questions or comments. Please leave me a star rating if you liked the post or continue to read the story of my visit to Showa Daibutsu in the suburbs of Aomori.

Fall leaves at Yamadera Temple

This journal is mostly about my Fall experience in Yamadera (山寺), a scenic temple located in the mountains northeast of Yamagata City.

When autumn deepens and the leaves begin to change color in the the fall months, hunting for autumn foliage has become a popular pastime in Japan. Watching my friends post the mesmerizing beauty of Autumn forced me to also schedule my tour to Japan during this time of the year.

Mind you, this need to visit far off places to appreciate the beauty of autumn has been a custom since ancient time as depicted in “The Tale of the Genji.” Even in the eighth century we have scenes that talk about how people used to search for beautiful autumn colors in the Heian Period. Yamadera is one such place to experience the vivid colors of Autumn as the surrounding slopes are enveloped in red & yellow foliage as far as the eyes can see.

This was my second visit to the lovely mountain temple. I have written in detail about the various structures inside the temple grounds when I went on a hike to Yamadera a couple of years before.

Colors begin turning in late September around Yamagata and usually peak in mid October. The weather had been lovely in the recent past as we traveled from Kansai towards the Tohoku region. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated rapidly as we reached moved north of Fukushima, .

On the day of our Yamadera visit, we woke up to see early morning showers. I was a bit perturbed by the thought of hiking up Yamadera in wet conditions, but the weather cleared up quickly.

After a hearty breakfast, we walked down to Yamagata Station. The roads were still wet but the skies were beautiful blue.

There are regular trains to Yamadera and it takes less than 20 minutes to reach. We had some time in our hands, so we went around the back of the station to find some lovely Momiji trees.

We caught the 9:45 am local going to Sendai on the JR Sanzen line. The ride from Yamagata to Yamadera is covered by the JR Pass. The Fall experience started early on the train on the train itself, as it chugged alongside some lovely mountains.

We reached Yamadera at around 10 am. The weather had again turned cloudy, but the fall foliage around the Yamadera mountains kept my excitement alive.

After wandering around the base of the mountain for some time, we made our way across the Tachiya River towards Yamadera.

A brief history of Yamadera

It was during the early Heian Period (794-1185) when Emperor Seiwa sent Monk Ennin to the Tohoku Region. The monk, who is better known in Japan by his posthumous name, Jikaku Daishi is credited with founding Yamadera, in the current Yamagata prefecture. In those times this area used to be part of the Dewa province.

Even though in the Japanese Feudal Period (1450-1600) the temples were destroyed by the wars and temporary fell into decline, during the next Edo Period (1615-1868), Yamadera recieved a lot of recognitions by the shogun (military government) and regained its prosperity.

Konpon Chu-do

The first temple we visited was the Konpon Chu-do (Hall). The Konpon Chu-do is the Main Hall of the temple and its oldest structure. Made of beech wood, this building is said to be the oldest in the complex.

The eternal flame of Konpon Chu-do

According to my research prior to visiting the temple, the Konpon Chu-do hall holds an eternal flame that Jigaku Daishi brought from Enryaku-ji. This flame has been burning for more than 1100 years. It will appear silly and let me tell you it was not for lack of effort but I could not to figure out where this flame is placed.

According to legend, the monk Dengyo Daishi (767 – 822), the founder of both the Tendai sect and Enryaku-ji temple in Kyoto brought this flame from a pilgrimage to China in 804 / 805 A.D. to Japan. Interestingly, the original flame at Enryaku-ji was extinguished when Oda Nobunaga destroyed the Enryaku-ji complex in 1571. When Enryaku-ji was rebuilt, the flame was brought back to Kyoto from Yamadera.

Statue of Nadebotoke at Konpon Chu-do

In front of Kunpon Chu-do Hall, there is Nadebotoke, a statue representing Buddha. Nadebotoke refers to a Pindola, the highest order of Buddhist acolyte who has attained satori. It is said that if you touch this idol in the same place that you have an injury, and then touch the place where you are injured. Some of the Chinese tourists in front of us just wouldn’t leave. They kept touching the statue like forever. Eventually when they left, we offered prayers at the holy shrine here before beginning our ascent towards the higher reaches.

A few paces to the left, you can find the Sammon Gate. Here you can buy the admission tickets to the temple grounds. They cost ¥ 300 per head for adults. It was a Tuesday and there were very few visitors. We gradually made our way up the stairs towards the summit.

Midway on the trail, you can see some beautifully weathered rock faces on the side of the mountain. There are many other interesting structures on the way but I have discussed about them in my previous journal.

At the end of the stairs, you’ll find Niomon Gate. It was built in 19th century and it’s actually one of the newest building in Yamadera complex.

Nokyodo & Kaisando

As we passed the Niomon Gate, we found ourselves in front of a rocky outcropping on which lies the most-photographed wooden structure of Yamadera: the small Sutra Repository Tower known as Nokyodo.

Just beside the Nokyodo you can find the Kaisando or the Founder’s Hall. Kasaido Hall is dedicated to the founder of the temples, Jikaku Daishi (monk Ennin) while the Nokyodo Hall was used as a room where sutra were copied.


The stairs going up on the right take you to Godaido Hall, an observatory deck, built in the early 1700. This hall is placed in such a way it provides glorious views on the valley.

Yamadera during Autumn

The maple tree is the indisputable king of autumn colors. As a matter of fact, the word “autumn colors” 紅葉 (pronounced: koyo) is written with the same kanji characters as the word “maple tree” (pronounced: momiji). Koyo refers to the phenomenon of changing autumn colors, mainly when it occurs to the leaves of deciduous broad-leaf trees before the leaves fall to the ground.

At some point in time, the word momiji became synonymous with the maple tree (kaede) and now people just use it to refer to the maple trees.

Maple trees are native to Japan and can be seen in their wild form in forests. I used my 80-400mm to get a few close-up shots of the mountain tops.

More closeup shots of Fall trees around Yamadera.

After capturing several shots of the mountain range, we climbed down the stairs back to the Kaisando. From here a narrow path leads up the mountain. Along the path are two Momiji trees perfectly placed to capture the most beautiful structure of Yamadera.

Even though the red leaves are more popular, I love the yellow Momiji leaves. Even in the dull weather, they were shining with joy. The species of maple generally determines the color the leaves will change to – red, yellow or brown. Although the word koyo literally means “red leaves, ” it is used to refer to all the colors of autumn leaves. The word oyo refers to yellow leaves, and the word katsuyo refers to brown leaves specifically.

Maple leaves are sometimes eaten as tempura. Fresh leaves are salted or sugared and then fried in tempura batter, for a delicious treat.

Took some photos with the Momiji Trees

Okunoin Hall

During the Kamakura Period (1185-1382), Yamadera became the center of the Tohoku’s Buddhist culture. During those times over 300 monks along with thousands of devouts lived in the upper and lower part of the mountain.

A small path goes to Okunoin hall, where Daibutsuden is located. Inside, a Buddha Amida statue is in place, and visitors can admire it from outside the building. Photography is prohibited in this area.

Okunoin hall

View of the mountains from the top

On the left, you can find a small building almost hidden from view.

Walking down Yamadera

The artificial lights had started to take effect along the mountain side.

In the failing light we made our way to the base of the mountain where the Risshaku-ji sat in the dusk.

Lights were turned on while we waited at the Yamadera Station fror our train.

Thanks for reading. Photographs can never tell the emotions I felt standing on the cliffs edge at Godaido as I witnessed the beautiful fall trees of Yamadera. But I hope they can inspire some of you to reach out and witness what I have. If you have the chance to tour Yamagata, do not miss this unique experience.

I look forward to your reviews and questions. If you are looking to explore more of the Tohoku region, follow my story as I move further north to the beautiful city of Aomori.

Can I carry my luggage to the Temple?

Yes, Coin lockers are available at Yamadera Station where you can store your belongings for the time you are here.

What are the visiting hours?

April to November: 9.30am to 4pm
December to March: 10am to 3pm
Closed on Wednesdays

Is there an Official website?

Yes, please follow this link:

What is the best time to view fall foliage in Yamadera?

From the end of October to the beginning of November

The Nangaku-ji Temple

From the beautiful prefecture of Akita, we were headed to Niigata. Unfortunately there are no Shinkansen lines along this route, so we caught a local JR train along the Uetsu Line to Sakata. From Sakata we changed to another train on the Inaho line towards Niigata.

The Inaho line passes through endless paddy fields. During summer, the lush green fields are a treat to the eyes.

On the way we had planned to take a break at Tsuruoka in Yamagata Prefecture to visit the Nangaku temple. The Nangaku Temple houses the mummy of Tetsuryukai’s, who was mummified at the age of 43. He lived through one of the most tumultuous periods in Japanese history during which the feudal system came to an end. It was also an era of reforms when the samurai class was abolished, and a western-style national army was created.

It was afternoon by the time we reached Tsuruoka. Leaving our baggage at the station locker, we set out towards Nangaku Temple. The sun was bright and strong. The weather had been mighty pleasing in Aomori but as we moved south, it was becoming hotter. Nangaku-ji is within walking distance from the JR station in Tsuruoka, but being new to the area, we decided to use the local bus service. Bus services are at frequent intervals so we didn’t have to wait too long.

The bus dropped us off at the Nangaku Temple stop. Nangaku-ji is hidden behind a flurry of houses and it took us some time to locate the temple. The temple grounds were deserted and the temple itself appears to be more like a house. Unsure, we eventually rang the bell and an elderly lady opened the door. She was the caretaker and showed us to the hall where the mummy of Tetsuryukai rests, beneath the main temple. Photography is forbidden so I couldn’t get a shot of the mummy itself.

Tetsuryou-kai [1816-1877]

Inside the hall, housed behind a glass case, lay the mummy of Tetsuryou-kai. He is referred to as a Sokushinbutsu. Sokushinbutsu is a practice of self starvation by Buddhist monks to become a mummified Buddha. It was performed by mountain ascetics for the welfare of poor farming communities. This practice has been abolished in Japan since the 19th century.  

Tetsuryou-kai was born in Akita Prefecture in 1816 into a family of a menial laborer. His given name was Shindo Yuzo.

In the late 19th Century, Emperor Meiji instituted a number of governmental reforms, the most controversial of which was the abolition of the Samurai. Various sections of the samurai rebelled but they were suppressed by the army. The reforms caused much discontent among the common folk. Tetsuryukai grew up during these turbulent times and it is said his insecurities drew him to join the Issei Gyonin sect at Nangaku-ji under the able guidance of Tetsumonkai Shonin.

It was at Nangaku-ji, that Shindo Yuzo took up the name the name of Tetsuryukai, by which we remember him today. His name at Nangaku-ji was created from the words Tetsu (iron) and Ryu (dragon). Following on the path of Tetsumonkai, he allegedly cut out his own left eye while training in austerities, like his master had done years before..

Tetsuryukai desired to become a Living Buddha, a self-mummified monk. He regulated his diet and practiced severe austerities, such as meditation in freezing water and extended periods of starvation. Due to the hardships, he became extremely ill. His physical condition became so bad that he could not continue on the path to Sokushinbutsu. He died still aspiring to become a “Living Buddha.”

After his decease, it is said, the saint appeared in the dreams of many people, requesting that his body be dug up. A man from the temple named Maruyama, and a charcoal dealer named Tojiro, exhumed the body and carried it from the grave site to Kannon Hall in Nanoka-machi, Tsuruoka. It was here that his body was mummified and later moved to Nangaku-ji.

After telling us this long history, the elderly lady led us out of the hall. She went away for her other chores and left us to take a look around the other artefacts in the temple. We made our way up the stairs into a giant hall. This hall on the first floor contains many miniature shrines dedicated to monks.

This unusual Buddhist tradition of Sokushinbutsu was practiced in Japan’s northern region of Tohoku until the mid 19th century. Six mummies are known to exist in the area. Tetsuryou-kai gradually starved himself in this process that lasted around 1,000 days, eating only nuts and seeds. During the process, a priest’s inner organs slowly dry. After no longer being able to eat food, they would be placed in a hole in the ground where they would recite Buddhist sutras. When their voice was no longer heard they were believed to have become a ‘mummified living Buddha.’

It was a rare sight to see a live mummy. The clouds had enveloped the sun as we came out of the temple. The light breeze motivated us to walk back to the station. 

On the way we also passed the lovely Tsuruoka park. Tsuruoka Park is best known as a popular hanami (cherry blossom) destination  but that happens in mid April. We circled around the park for a bit. Swans were swimming along a wide moat.

There is a small fountain in the center of the park where we rested for a while.

From the park it took us less than 15 minutes to get back to the JR Station. We picked up our luggage from the locker and went up to the platform.

The sun was gradually winding down for a good nights sleep as we waited for the train. 

 The train arrived in a while and we were off to Niigata. The Inaho line does have limited express trains, it was like a shot in the arm after the slow moving local train that brought us to Sakata.

The Limited Express train had plush interiors almost like a Shinkansen. It was really comfortable inside as we settled down near the window facing the Japan Sea.

On the way we passed by one of the most beautiful sunsets on the Japan Sea.

It was almost 8 in the evening by the time we reached Niigata. But the night was still young and decided to catch a glimpse of the famed Bandai Bridge under the stars.

The lady of Lake Tazawa

The beauty of Japan lies in its peaceful lakes, gardens and mountains. Today we head out to a mystical lake in Akita. Lake Tazawa is a caldera lake in the city of Semboku in Akita Prefecture. With a depth of 423 meters, it has the distinction of being the deepest lake in Japan, but more interestingly the lake finds a reference in the folklores of Tatsuko, a young maiden from In-nai, who wishing for everlasting youth and beauty, is said to have been cursed and turned into a dragon on the shores of this very lake. Today in her remembrance, a golden statue of Tatsuko created by Yasutake Funakoshi in 1968, stands at the edge of the lake with her back to the clear blue waters, a figure of purity, love and beauty.

Aomori to Tazawako

It was a beautiful sunny day. After a light breakfast at the hotel APA, we walked down to Aomori Station. APA Hotel is very conveniently located near the Matsu bay and the JR Aomori Station, and is highly recommended if you are staying in Aomori. 

From Aomori we took the 9 am Tsugaru Limited Express to Akita.  

The train was mostly empty all the way.

The journey takes around 2 hours and 45 minutes and runs through beautiful wooded mountains and endless farmlands.

It was 1 pm by the time we reached Akita. We dropped off our luggage at the Toyoko Inn, where we would be staying for the night in Akita, and then after a quick lunch, took the Akita Shinkansen Komachi to Tazawako Station. It takes about an hour to reach Tazawako Station from Akita.

At the Tazawako Station, the lady at the tourist information corner helped us buy round trip tickets on the Ugo Kotsu bus. The bus tickets costs 1200 Yen and it takes visitors on a scenic bus trip around the lake to three popular spots along the circumference of the huge lake. The bus runs at fairly regular intervals and we were at the lake-front in 20 minutes.

Lake Tazawa

Our first stop was the lake’s eastern viewing point which is surrounded by a big parking area. On the left one can find many shops, restaurants and rental bicycle stores. Across the road, on the other side, one can find the sightseeing boat pier. The sightseeing boats operate from late April to early November and taking visitors up to the Tatsuko statue and back. It was early afternoon yet the sun had disappeared behind thick clouds and a strong breeze followed.

We decided against the boat ride on the lake which at the moment looked pretty precarious in the strong winds. We spent some time walking along a narrow path by the lake watching some daredevils on water-mobiles jetting across the lake. In summer, the area is popular for water sports such as sail-boating and jet-skiing. Many outdoor leisure spots like a ski area and camping sites are close by. 

Lake Tazawa was named in the Meiji period when the mainland Japanese arrived here and settled in its surrounding foothills. However, the lake was known to the Ainu people long before, who named it Tapukopu which means “hill with a circular top.”

After some time, we went back to the bus stop and waited for the next bus as we munched on a snack of warm French fries from one of the local eateries. The buses come at regular intervals and we didn’t have to wait long before one came along.. The bus was somewhat full but we didn’t have any trouble getting us a couple of seats.

The golden statue of Tatsuko

After a short ride surrounded through dense cedar forest we were at Katajiri bus stop. The driver told us he would stay at the stop for 30 minutes. On this western shore, lies the fabled golden statue of Tatsuko, a legendary princess who was transformed into a dragon, for she wished for eternal beauty. After a short walk, we were there at the bronze statue of Tatsuko, where she stands in all her beauty – like a girl coming out of the blue waters of the lake.

There are many versions of this mysterious legend – perhaps no one knows the ‘original’ or ‘authentic’ version of it, because it has been orally passed down through generations.

Legend of Tatsuko

Tatsuko, a girl from In-nai area, was known for her beautiful appearance. Comprehending that her beauty would not last forever, she started to visit a nearby shrine at the foot of Mt. Okurasan. She would visit there dedicatedly, night after night to make this wish. Eventually on the 100th night, she finally received a message from the god of mercy, telling her to go north and find a holy spring. She told her to take a sip from that spring.

Tatsuko, left her home and traveled across the mountains. Finally, she found the holy spring that she was told about. Delighted, she took a sip as told in the message. As Tatsuko was drinking the water from the holy spring with her delicate hands, she felt more and more thirsty. She was drinking so breathlessly and mindlessly that she started to have her face to the water. Next moment, heavy clouds appeared over the mountains, bringing a thunderstorm. Soon, the pouring rain washed out everything and caused a landslide down to the lake. The lightnings were so blinding that Tatsuko couldn’t even see herself. When it finally calmed down, she saw her reflection in the water change as she turned into a dragon. 

The legend doesn’t stop here. It goes on as when Tatsuko had gone missing for way too long, her mother became anxious. She wandered into the mountains searching for her precious daughter. She went deeper and deeper into the mountains and finally, found the holy spring. She desperately called her daughter’s name. The calling was heard by Tatsuko, who had now become a dragon.

“Forgive me, Mother” she said. “Because I wished for the eternal beauty, now I became a dragon as a guardian of Lake Tazawa. I cannot return home with you. Instead, I will keep this lake abundant of fish, so you could have it every day to remember me. They are my offerings to you.”

Soon Tatsuko disappeared into the water. The poor mother was so agonized. She screamed at the misery of her only child and threw the burning torch into the lake. As the fire was instantly put out, the torch became black and soon turned into a school of fish – which we know as the Kunimasu. The Kunimasu trout almost went extinct some 70 years back. Prior to 1940 it was the main species of fish in Lake Tazawa. Sadly, most of the fish died in 1940 when a hydroelectric project made waters of Lake Tazawa highly acidic. Luckily about 100,000 kunimasu eggs were preserved and seeded into the Saiko Lake before the hydroelectric project construction fouled the waters of Tazawa, which just about saved it from going extinct.

The Dragon Lovers, Tatsuko & Hachirotaro

This legend also has a sequence which involves Tatsuko and another dragon from Lake Hachirogata, Hachiro-Taro, and a monk of Lake Towada. The story is called Legend of Three Lakes. It tells about the hunter Hachirotaro who was also turned into a dragon and lost a battle against a monk named Nansonobo at Towada lake, subsequently becoming the creator of Hachirogata lagoon in Oga peninsula. When Hachirotaro heard about the beauty of Lady Tatsuko he went to Tazawa lake to meet her. The two became lovers, but then Nansonobo, who also heard about the lady’s beauty, came to the lake as well and began a new battle with Hachirotaro, this time for Tatsuko. This time the winner was Hachirotaro and every winter he travels from Hachirogata lagoon to Tazawa lake to be with his lady-love. According to local belief, the reason why the lake doesn’t freeze in the winter is because of their love. Now the lagoon does not exist anymore, which they deduce to be that the two live together at Tazawa lake all year round. I have always loved to hear stories like these and I had a great time visiting the places that are refer to in them.

Ukigi shrine

Beside Tatsuko’s statue, lies the Ukigi shrine. The shinto shrine built of plain wood, juts out over Lake. It is uncertain when the shrine was built, but in 1769 the haiku poet and Chinese scholar Soshu Masuda named it Kansagu. Local people however prefer to call it “Katajiri Myojin” and worship the lady Tatsuko as a deity of fishermen’s good catch. The shrine symbolizes the love of Tatsuko and Hachirotaro and is known as a place to pray for love.

The bus stops here for about 30 minutes. We had a quick look around and then caught the same bus to our next and final stop to Goza No Ishi shrine.

Gozanoishi Shrine

By 4.30 we had reached Gozanoishi jinja mae bus stop. The northern end of the lake is popular for the Goza no Ishi Shrine. The lake looks most amazing from here. The breeze had pushed the gray clouds away and the sun was shining on us again.

Gozanoishi Shrine is now a symbol of Lake Tazawa. The striking red torii gate, facing one of the most picturesque viewpoints on the lake, is simply the most captured in photographs, just as much as the golden statue of Tatsuko on the western side of the lake.

Gozanoishi shrine is believed to bring beauty to those who pray there. The enshrined deity is lady Tatsuko. There are items related to the legend, such as the “katagashira water spring” whose water Tatsuko drank before becoming a dragon, or the “kagamiishi” which reflected her beautiful image. The shrine is thought to be built during Muromachi period.  It is said that when Lord of Satake came to Lake Tazawa in 1650, he had sat and rested on the bedrock in front. That is where the name, Goza No Ishi, comes from– “The rock where the great sat.”

We paid our respects at the shrine and then wandered around to the lovely red Torii listening to the lapping sound of the gentle waves. After taking some pictures, we went back to the waiting bus caught the bus.

We were back in Tazawako Station within half an hour or so. At the Tazawako Station, the Shinkansen wasn’t due for another hour. So, we just hung around the station for a bit. At 6 pm we caught the Akita Shinkansen Komachi to Akita.

It was late evening by the time we reached Akita. The Toyoko Inn Hotel was right next to the station building so we didn’t have to walk much. 

The bed at the hotel looked inviting after the long day.

Even though the gray skies dampened the stunning beauty of the Lake, we had an incredible time discussing the stories of Tatsuko. The majority of the lake’s waterside is wild and undeveloped and it imparts a sense of being in isolated in nature, away from concrete constructions. Hotels and rest houses are scattered along the shores of the lake if one wants to spend a night in natures lap. The deepest lake in all of Japan, the depth of its waters is reflected in the depth of the experience of visiting it. In addition to the wild and serene atmosphere of the lake itself, the iconic statue and her melancholy fate stirs the strings of the heart. 

An evening at Hirosaki Castle

After a lovely time at the Tambo Art fields, we set off for one of the most beautiful castles in Tohoku region. Hirosaki Castle (弘前城) is a hirayama-style Japanese castle constructed in 1611. The present tower however was rebuilt in 1810 in the late Edo period (1603-1867) after a fire destroyed the original in 1627. It was the seat of the Tsugaru clan, who ruled over Hirosaki domain in the Mutsu Province, now known as central Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture.

Tambo Art Fields to Hirosaki

From Tamboato Station, we took the local to Onoekoko-Mae Station and from there another train on the Konan Line all the way to Hirosaki Station. It doesn’t take long to cover the distance, but the trains are scheduled at wide intervals and it was almost 5 pm by the time we reached Hirosaki Station. Originally opened in 1894, the present-day facilities at Hirosaki Station were completed in 2004. A bus terminal lies just outside of the train station.

Did you know: Besides rice, the Hirosaki region accounts for nearly a fifth of Japan’s apple production. They’re the best you’ll find in Japan, so enjoy some while you’re there.

Hirosaki is renowned for its agricultural produce. The Hirosaki area has been populated since the Heian Period (794 – 1185). The city has been renamed several times over the course of history. Its current name was adapted in 1808 from its former name, Takaoka. With its humid continental climate, summers in Hirosaki are hot, reaching a daily average of 23°C in August, while winters are mild in comparison.

The castle is open to visitors only from 9 am to 5 pm. But we were short on time on the next day and the castle grounds remains open till late, so we decided to go down anyway.

We love to walk, so from the station we walked down all the way to the Castle. If you are not in the mood for a walk, one can also take the 100-yen Dotemachi Loop Bus and get off at Shiyakusho-mae stop to reach the castle. That is the most convenient way to reach the castle, via the Otemon Gate located near the Hirosaki City Hall.

After a brisk walk, we reached the Sannomaru Otemon Gate in about 20 minutes. From the Sannomaru-Otemon-Gate, it’s another 10-minute walk to the castle across the vast Hirosaki Park.

The park surrounding the castle is open all round the year, but the castle itself is closed during the winter period from October 24th, until the end of March. Light was gradually failing as we walked past the Kitanokuruwa North Gate. Since it was way beyond 5 pm, we weren’t charged any admission fees for viewing the castle.

The Kitanokuruwa North Gate leads to a wide path surrounded by trees on both sides. The Hirosaki Park is home to over 2600 trees with over 50 different types of cherry trees. The Somei Yoshino cherry is the first to bloom every year, followed by the Shidarezakura (Weeping Cherry), then finally the Yaezakura (Double Layer cherry). The cherry blossoms at Hirosaki Castle are unique as each branch produces more flowering buds due to a special pruning technique.

History of Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is a symbol of the city, and has a truly long history. During the late Sengoku period, Ōura Tamenobu was awarded 45,000 koku by Toyotomi Hideyoshi for his role in the Battle of Odawara in 1590. At the Battle of Sekigahara, he fought alongside Tokugawa Ieyasu, who subsequently rewarded him by making him lord of Hirosaki Domain increasing his revenues to 47,000 koku. In 1603, Ōura Tamenobu changed his name to Tsugaru and started work on Hirosaki Castle. He was the first of the Tsugaru feudal lords who established his rule over the Tsugaru area in the early 17th century. He died in 1607 and work on the castle was put on hold until his son Tsugaru Nobuhira restarted it in 1610.

The second lord, Tsugaru Nobuhira, completed the Hirosaki Castle in 1611. However, in 1627, the 5-story tenshu, was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire. They tried to rebuild the castle but were prohibited by the then prevailing law that forbid more than one Castle per Province. It was not until 1810, when the present 3-story structure was erected, but at the southeast corner, rather than the original southwest location. The new 3 level keep is actually just the renovated Ninomaru tasumi yagura watchtower

Hirosaki’s Moving Castle

After walking across the vast Hirosaki Park, we finally reached a small red bridge across a moat. 

From the pictures I had looked on the internet, this was the very bridge from where people usually capture the iconic view of Hirosaki Castle, with the diminutive castle perched on the corner of its motte, overlooking the hundreds of cherry blossom trees surrounding it. However, during our visit we couldn’t find the castle where it was supposed to be. As we went up the bridge to the top, I realized that the entire castle had been moved approximately 100 meters to the northeast.

I later found out that because of the deteriorating stone walls, the the 14.4-meter-high, 400-metric-ton structure, was placed on a wheeled sled and moved very slowly over a three-month period in autumn 2015. Work is currently going on to repair the walls and the tower should be returned to its original position in 2021. So if you are visiting before that, get prepared to be shocked like me.

Fun Fact: The tower was also moved in 1897 to restore collapsed stone walls. Those repairs was completed in 1915, almost exactly 100 years ago. I wonder how they did it.

Hirosaki Castle

We were finally in front of the petite castle. A wooden structure lies in front of the castle that provided me with a good viewpoint to capture the antique castle with the beautiful Iwate mountain in the background.

The current donjon of the castle was completed in 1811 by the 9th daimyō, Tsugaru Yasuchika. The structure is comparatively smaller than early Edo-period varieties of donjons, and it was built on a corner of the inner bailey on the site of a yagura, rather than the stone base of the original donjon. The small size was partly due to the restricted finances of the domain towards the end of the Edo period, but its location and design were also intended to alleviate concerns which might be raised by the Tokugawa shogunate should a larger structure be built. 

The Tsugaru clan held the castle until the Meiji Restoration when it was taken over by the government. With the Meiji Restoration and subsequent abolition of the han system, the Tsugaru clan surrendered the castle to the new Meiji government. In 1894, the castle properties were donated by the Tsugaru clan to the government for use as a park, which was then opened to the general public the following year. In 1898, an armory was established in the former Third Bailey by the IJA 8th Division. In 1906, two of the remaining yagura burned down.

In 1937, the remaining eight structures of the castle received protection from the government as “national treasures”. However, in 1944, during the height of World War II, all of the bronze in the castle, including roof tiles and decorations, were stripped away for use in the war.

In 1950, under the new cultural properties protection system, all surviving structures in the castle (with the exception of the East Gate of the 3rd Bailey) were named National Important Cultural Properties. In 1952, the grounds received further protection with their nomination as a National Historic Site. In 1953, after reconstruction, the East Gate of the 3rd Bailey also gained ICP status, giving a total of nine structures within the castle with such protection.

It was late, so we went back the same way passing the now illuminated Kitanokuruwa North Gate.

Hirosaki to Aomori

After a wonderful evening at the Hirosaki Castle grounds, we walked back to the station to catch the train to Aomori Station.

It was almost 9 pm by the time we reached Aomori Station. Luckily for us our Hotel was a just a couple of minutes away from the station. 

The stores had all closed by then and the streets wore a deserted look, so we went back to the hotel.

Hirosaki is one of my favorite castles. Even though the main keep is not very spectacular and there is less stonework compared to Osaka castle or Matsumoto castle, the building is unique. What it lacks in scale and grandeur, it makes up for in authenticity being a real Edo era castle and not a reproduction. The layout of the castle grounds and moats are perfectly preserved making it a unique experience. I sure hope to go down again if I am ever back in Japan during hanami. I had a really great time witnessing one of the more artistic castles and now for a good nights sleep 🙂 Tomorrow we leave for Akita.

Apart from Hirosaki castle, Aomori has many more interesting places to explore like the Wa-Rasse Museum, Aomori Bay and the monumental Showa Daibutsu. You can also go up the Aspam building to witness the beautiful city at night.

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment if you liked the post or follow my story as I visit the lovely lady of Tazawa lake.

Ruins of Sannai-Maruyama

Today I visit the ruins of Sannai Maruyama in Aomori. Discovered in 1992, the Sannai Maruyama Archaeological Site is the largest and one of the most complete and best-preserved Jōmon Period (13000-300 BC) village in Japan. 

Morioka to Aomori

I and my wife, Mani were on a short tour of Tohoku region. We were thoroughly refreshed from our previous day at Jōdogahama beach in Iwate. The day was bright and sunny as we checked out of our hotel and walked down to Morioka Station to catch the train to Aomori. As we entered the JR Station, we were quite pleased to see it was still decorated, in lieu of the just-passed Tanabata celebrations.

Tanabata originated from a romantic legend about two lovers that are only able to meet each other once a year. This festival is held across Japan on July 7 or August 7 depending on the region. It’s said that your wishes will come true if you write them down on strips of paper called the tanzaku and hang them on bamboo branches. We left a tanzaku wish note praying for a happy future at one of the booths.

The Shinkansen takes only an hour for the journey from Morioka to Aomori, however, Mani didn’t posses a JR Pass and in order to save some money, we used the limited express train. It was a long 3-hour journey but felt rather shortened by the animated chats about the places we were yet to explore around these parts. 

We reached Shin Aomori at 11 am. The Nebuta festival had just got over in Aomori, the previous day and the station was still adorned with many Nebuta floats all over the place. The Nebuta festival is one of the most popular festivals in Aomori and if you miss it you can always drop down to the Nebuta Museum to witness the amazing floats from the last held festival.

It was almost mid-day and the sun was burning bright, and although Aomori was cooler than Iwate, the strong Sun made it a tad uncomfortable. We left our luggage at one of the station lockers and waited for the bus for Sannai Maruyama site.

The sightseeing bus called Shuttle de Route Bus Nebutan-go arrived in a few minutes. The bus route keeps running in a loop all day, and to reach the Sannai-Maruyama site one has to get down at the Sannai-Maruyama-Iseki-mae bus stop. The ride cost us 310 Yen each.

Jōmon Jiyukan

As we entered the giant hall in Jōmon Jiyukan, the volunteers at the reception helped us out with the information about the heritage site. They provided us with a guided map of the area. Beside the reception, one can also find replicas of dresses from the Jamon period. Visitors are free to try on these Jōmon period clothing. I tried out a fisherman’s dress and I presume, I would have fit right in, into this traditional society 🙂

Once we had gathered all the information, we decided to first take our lunch and then proceed to investigate the huge site. The Gosennen-no Hoshi restaurant inside the campus serves delicious meals using prominent Jōmon ingredients. One can find a variety of set menus made of fish, vegetables and nuts that people during the Jōmon period used to consume.

I am generally a bit circumspect to try new food, but I decided to give it a try anyway. I ordered the “Shiokatsukune Udon.” The dish basically comprised of soft “Chicken meatballs” with bonitos (fish) and kelp soup. I did end up enjoying it and as I write this journal I can feel myself salivating just thinking about it. After the fulfilling meal at the Gosennen-no Hoshi restaurant, we slowly walked down to the Sanmaru Museum.

Sanmaru Museum

The Sanmaru museum exhibits objects excavated from the excavation site and lists many facts about the people who lived during the Jōmon Period. The Jōmon period encompasses a large expanse of time, constituting Japan’s Neolithic period and the museum exhibits approximately 1,700 artifacts excavated from the Sannai-Maruyama site. 

A dimly lit path led us towards a life-sized figure of a young boy with his Inu (dog), pointing us towards the glass encased cases of historical findings from the Jōmon period.

Jōmon no Kokoro

The first section of the Sanmaru Museum is called the Jōmon no Kokoro (heart of the Jōmon Period). This area displays various excavated items including a large number of pottery, stone artifacts, personal ornaments, clay figures, earthenware, wooden utensils, bone tools and small knitted baskets called “Jōmon pochette” from the Jōmon period.

Shown below is one of the stone tools from the site. This grinding stone was particularly used as a food processing tool. Nuts, such as chestnuts, walnuts, and Japanese horse chestnuts were an important source of food for the people at the time. These were used to crush these hard nuts. 

Below you can see some stone spearheads used by the hunters during that period. These hunting tools are characterized by a carefully formed leaf shape and evenly beveled edges that required great skill and patience to create. These tools were created by a process called knapping, where one stone is used to strike another to create a desired shape. If you are a student of history, you will notice that these stone tools, which were somewhat roughly created in the Paleolithic era, were by the Jōmon period meticulously chipped and smoothly polished. 

We moved forward to a large board-shaped clay figurine on display. The Sannai Maruyama village site turned up a huge number of human shaped figurines. From middle to late Jōmon periods, the Jōmon people made large numbers of human figures from clay. However these Jōmon figurines do not look like real people. They have distorted forms with large faces, small arms and hands. Some of the figurines look like humans wearing goggles. This is not new for many cultures who have depicted humans in exaggerated shapes like the Egyptians, but it does make one think if the Jōmon actually had some kind of extra-terrestrial contact.

The pottery vessels crafted in ancient Japan during the Jōmon period are generally accepted to be the oldest pottery in Japan and also among the oldest in the world. The word Jômon literally means “straw-rope pattern,” and it typically describes the style of pottery of the earliest Japanese period. The Jōmon period was named after this style of pottery.

All Jōmon pots were made by hand, without the aid of a wheel. As in all other Neolithic cultures, generally women created these early potteries. Clay was mixed with a variety of adhesive materials, including mica, lead, fibers, and crushed shells. After the vessel was formed, tools were employed to smooth both the outer and interior surfaces. When completely dry, these were baked in an outdoor bonfire.

Pottery found at this site is called Ento (cylindrical) style pottery. A typical Ento style pottery is characterized by an elongated bucket shape with a wide opening and is decorated with cord marks.

Below you can see different sized needles created from bones. In those times, animal bones were used to create harpoon heads, fish hooks, needles and even hairpins. Their varying length, thickness and the eye indicate that the Jōmon people developed them for specialized purposes. Most of the bone needles shown here are made of mammal ribs.

The image below is a cross-section of a mound. Many ritual associated implements were found from these mounds, suggesting the significance of these mounds as a ground for ceremonial activities

Most artifacts used in daily life such as pottery were made at the site using locally available materials. Ornaments include pendants and earrings made of clay, stone, and animal bones.  However certain items came from far away. Jade was favored by the Jōmon people and especially valued in north Honshu where Sannai Maruyama is located. In addition to complete artifacts such as large beads, raw stones have also been discovered here. 

If you want a guided explanation while looking at the exhibits, a volunteer from the Sannai-Maruyama volunteers will gladly guide you round the exhibits.

The Jōmon people of Sannai Maruyama

As we moved further, we were in the Jōmon-jin no Kurashi wo Himotoku (Lifestyle of the Jōmon Period people) section. Here life-sized figurines are used to reproduce the Jōmon daily life, based on excavated objects. The people in the early Jōmon period frequently traveled from one place to the next while engaged in camping and nomadic life. The Jōmon people primarily belonged to a hunter-gatherer culture. 

Over time the sedentary settlements appeared and certain communities engaged in cultivating plants. They gradually moved to a semi-sedentary lifestyle and descended from a mixture of the ancient hunter-gatherer Jōmon and the Yayoi rice agriculturalists. Their features can also be seen in the Ainu and Ryukyuan people. In fact, the Ainu have often been considered to be descendants resulting from a mix of the cultures of the Jōmon people and the Okhotsk. I have written a detailed report on the history of Ainu people.

Below you can see a typical Jōmon family gathering. The historical Ainu culture originated in a merger of the Okhotsk culture with the Satsumon, one of the ancient archaeological cultures that are considered to have derived from the Jōmon period cultures of the Japanese Archipelago. The origin myths of Japanese civilization extend back to periods now regarded as part of the Jōmon period, though they show little or no relation to what we know archaeologically of Jōmon culture, one of the reasons why the Japanese deny Ainu as the aborigines.

After about an hour of adoring the prehistoric artifacts, we moved on towards the excavation site. The Jiyu tunnel led us into the the largest ruins of a traditional village, dating from 4,000 to 5,500 years ago. Stepping into this region is like taking a step back in time.

A brief history of Jōmon People of Sannai-Maruyama

The Jōmon period experienced a large-scale climate change since it extended for a long period of 10,000 years. The Sannai-Maruyama Ruins are the largest ruins of a Jōmon-period (about 10,500-300 BC) village in Japan, and are estimated to date from 4,000 to 5,500 years ago. The Japanese archipelago is extremely elongated from north to south and its topography varies considerably; therefore, regional differences in the climate and vegetation were large during the Jōmon period as is today. As a result, the cultural style of the Jomon period is not uniform both historically and regionally and it came to take many different forms.

There have been previous excavations around the Sannai-Maruyama site between 1953 to 1967. These excavations involved teams from Keio University and the Board of Education of Aomori City. In 1976 and 1987, the Board of Education of Aomori Prefecture and Aomori City also conducted further excavations on the southern part of the site.

However, the major breakthrough for the site came in 1992 while excavating during a pre-construction phase for a baseball stadium. This excavation uncovered how large Sannai Maruyama was as well as a large amount of artifacts. 

After the excavation and study of the site, the village was reburied with earth and a number of reconstructed pit dwellings, long houses and a large tower were built on top. Visitors can enter the reconstructions, some of which are quite large, as well as see a few of the original excavation sites around the grounds.

A large number of pot shards and stone implements, clay figurines, jade beads, etc. were disposed together with the soil and formed a mound for over 1000 years. You can see its cross-section here. X-ray analysis shows that the jade excavated at ‘Sannai-Maruyama Site’ in Aomori Prefecture is from Itoigawa and therefore, it is assumed that the Jōmon people also traded among themselves over the wide area.

These findings demonstrate a change in the structure of the community, architecture, and organizational behaviors of these people. Because of the extensive information and importance, this site was designated as a Special National Historical Site of Japan in 2000.

Sannai Maruyama

Sannai Maruyama was first settled around 3900 BCE. At that time it was inhabited by hunters and gatherers only. Over this period of time, the site changed from a seasonal camp, to the home of a more mobile society, and finally to a settled village. Evidence of this sedentary lifestyle can be found in the the changes in their storage facilities.

Pit Dwellings

The earliest pit dwellings at Sannai Maruyama were during the Early Jōmon period, built between 5900 and 5400 years ago. At that time, Sannai was comparatively small and simple, a collection of pit dwellings. The first settlers on the site lived in pit houses. These dwellings typically were about 10 feet in diameter. The floor was dug below the ground level. A hearth was located in its center. At least 550 pit-dwellings have been discovered so far and 15 have been reconstructed. Some of the pit houses seen at Sannai Maruyama were simple thatched-roof semi-subterranean houses, like this reconstruction. To make this bark-thatched pit dwelling, a pit was excavated into the ground and bark or wood branches were assembled over the top forming a cone-like structure.

Over time the thatched pit dwelling was replaced with a sturdier structure as shown below. Like the thatched huts, the floor of a pit dwelling was dug into the ground. Supporting posts were placed at the corners and the walls and roof were built and roofed with thatch. The average size of these pit dwelling is between three and four meters in diameter.

Store Houses

Initially they used to store food in underground pits, which allowed them to hide it when they left the site since the occupants were not yet living a sedentary lifestyle.  With time, the storage features changed from these underground pits to elevated granaries around 2900 BC. These buildings were built higher than the ground level and were specifically used as storage facilities.

Long House

As the community became sedentary, long houses began showing up around this time. Long houses were large, oval-shaped structures. The longest one found at the site was 32 meters (105 feet) long. Scholars believe long houses were used for meeting places, workshops, or living space. Pit houses were still being inhabited for individual dwelling  at the same time that long houses started to come up on the landscape.

Till now eleven long houses have been excavated at Sannai Maruyama. They were large, oval-shaped semi-subterranean pit dwellings. The reconstruction  shown below is the longest, measuring 32 meters in length. This huge structure displays a coordinated labor force that would have required cooperation of several people to make. This displays the gradual shift from an individual to a social community in this time period.


With a stable living style, also, there appeared one of Sannai Maruyama’s most famous structures, the large six-pillared building, was built around 2,600 BC.  This structure consisted of six large pillars that are believed to have held up platforms. Each one of these pillars was around 1 meter in diameter and was placed exactly 14 ft apart.  This large post like platform was certainly used as a watchtower. 

Burial Pits

Burials at Sannai Maruyama took three forms: jar burials, pit burials, and stone circle burials. Large jars have been discovered near the pit dwelling clusters. These are assumed to be burials, although human bones have not been preserved within them, on the basis of similar burials found in later Jōmon sites such as Yoshinogari. Jar burials have been dated to the Middle Jōmon period, from 5400-4300 years ago. The second form of burial was of adults aligned in rows along the sides of long roadways extending from the center of the settlement towards the outside. Finally as shown below, stone circle arrangements have also been found at Sannai Maruyama, which included adult burials. 

The settlement of Sannai Maruyama ended around 2300 BC.

By now we were extremely dehydrated. The harsh sun had taken its toll and we dragged ourselves to the safety of the Jōmon Jiyukan.

The vending machine at that moment was “gold” for us, as we gulped on the chilled sugary drinks.

The Sannai Maruyama site was designated as a special historical site by the Japanese government in November 2000. Today the public can visit this site and explore its many reconstructions. The site also features a Theater, a workshop and a gift shop. If you are in love with history do not miss this site. Even though at present, most of the excavated items have been reburied for preservation, the excavation sites and artifacts on display will giving you a feel of life in those ancient times.

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment if you liked the post or follow my story as we go for a stroll along the lovely Aomori Bay to witness a most alluring sunset.

Open Hours:

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closed days:

December 30 – January 1
The center is also closed on the fourth Monday of each month. If that day is a holiday, the center will be closed the next day

Admission Fees:

410 Yen

Are baggage lockers available at the site?

Lockers are available for free. You need a 100 yen coin to lock them, but it will be returned when you retrieve your belongings.

Are all objects exhibited in the museum excavated in the Sannai-Maruyama site?

Yes. Sanmaru Museum exhibits approximately 1,700 artifacts excavated from this very this site.

Are there any restaurants at the site?

Yes, you can find a fine restaurant on the premises named Gosennen-no Hoshi, which offers specialty food prepared with Jōmon period recipes and also a kiosk called Hokusaikan.

Do you sell any books about the site?

Yes, many informative books are available at the museum shop as well as the kiosk.