Upon arriving at Haneda Airport, take a 75-minute domestic flight to Aomori Airport, the northernmost prefecture of Honshu, Japan's main island.
From the Aomori Airport, take a bus to Hirosaki. If you leave your luggage at the Hirosaki Tourist Information Center located inside the Hirosaki Station, you can get them to deliver your luggage to your hotel!
Located in the western part of Aomori Prefecture, Hirosaki was a castle town of the Tsuruga clan and today remains as one of the most cultural-rich cities in the Tohoku region. The iconic landmark is the Hirosaki Castle which features fortified moats, castle gates, and turrets, with the three-story castle itself towering above the grounds of Hirosaki Park, which is famous for its cherry blossoms every spring. North of the castle is a well-preserved samurai district, where some former residences are open to the public. Hirosaki hosts the world-famous Neputa Festival parade in August, with large floats featuring illuminated painted screens depicting gorgeous traditional art.
11:30Taisho Romantic Tea Room
A great place for lunch in Hirosaki is the Taisho Roman Café, a 1920s Western-style building with a red tapered roof located within Fujita Memorial Garden. Hirosaki is also known as the town of apples - which explains why the café uses lots of apples in their desserts! The large dining hall and sunroom evoke an atmosphere of the Taisho era, Japan's Jazz Age of the early 20th century. Choose from the six varieties of apple pies available or try the galette made with Shirakami flour as you admire panoramic views of the season out the large windows.
Taisho Romantic Tea Room
8-1, Kamishirogane-cho, Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture, 036-8262
Opening hours : 9:00-17:00
13:30Hirosaki Apple Park
Yearning to work out a little and taste the fruits of your labour? Pick your apples at the Hirosaki Apple Park, which has over 2,300 apple trees of 80 different varieties. You can also find a restaurant, café, and souvenir shops located within the park. Sample the café's menu which includes apple curry and apple soft-serve, and try their original Kimori cider, a carbonated alcoholic apple drink, at the cider shop established by local farmers. Still craving for more sweet, crunchy, juicy apples? Check out the wide arrays of apple products, or visit the old farmhouse, play area, and picnic area.
125 Terasawa, Shimizutomita, Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture, 036-8262
Telephone number: +81-172-36-7439
Opening hours : 9:00-17:00
*For actual schedule, please do refer to official website for updates.
For the second day, take an early morning tour around the Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada for a breathtaking view of some of Japan's most gorgeous natural sceneries and get in touch with Mother Nature. With a JR pass, you can hop on for a 140-minute bus ride from Aomori Station to the Oirase Gorge.
Lake Towada Pleasure Boat
Boasting one of the greatest landscapes of the Northern Tohoku region, Lake Towada was formed by volcanic activities that started over 200,000 years ago. From fresh, new green leaves to the beautiful sight of autumn leaves falling into the lake, you can thoroughly appreciate the beauty of seasons with the scenic boat rides. 2 courses are offered, with each lasting about 50 minutes. Lake Towada is also a popular fishing area, and is one of a few places in Japan you can find the succulent Himemasu (kokanee salmon). In June and July, you can savour the rich flavours of the Himemasu as sushi or tempura from shops along the lake.
Oirase Stream river walks
After the boat ride, explore Oirase Stream on foot - you can easily adjust the length and difficulty of the hike according to your physical endurance. Surrounded by lush greenery, the 14km-long Oirase Stream is one of the most scenic natural areas in Japan and a famous spot for its autumn colours; this picturesque mountain stream flows along the Oirase Gorge and is fed by over a dozen waterfalls that cascade into the stream's entire length. An easy 9-km walking trail from the stream's charming upper passage between Nenokuchi and Ishigedo takes about 2.5 hours, and has many bridges, waterfalls, and bus stops along the way. Alternatively, you can take a bus tour and explore the area within 2 hours if you prefer to go with a more comfortable option, or try kayaking, fishing, boat tours!
Hoshino Resort Oirase Keiryu Hotel
Designed by the famous Hoshino Resorts group, this hotel is located within the national park where you can truly immerse in the wonders of Oirase Gorge. You will be greeted by the large fireplace at the entrance lounge, with the picturesque forest of Oirase in the backdrop. The hotel features open-air hot spring baths right next to the mountain stream and waterfall (from mid-December to late March, the hot spring is surrounded by a frozen waterfall). Local, fresh ingredients are featured in their meals, with desserts made with locally-grown apples. Enjoy breakfast served at their terrace while taking in the incredible view of the mountain stream.
231 Tochikubo, Okuse, Towada City, Aomori Prefecture 034-0398
Telephone number: +81 570-073-022