Aomori City is a port city, the capital of Aomori Prefecture. It's completely walkable and/or accessible by public transport.
What to See
Nebuta Warasse Museum
Located adjacent to the Aomori station is the Nebuta Warasse Museum. There isn't much signage in English at the start of the museum, but once you enter the main hall, there are subtitles to the short film that runs about once an hour. Four or five of the previous year's floats are displayed - fully illuminated - along with English explanations. This is undoubtedly the best place to see Nebuta up close, especially if you can't make it to the actual Nebuta Festival. You can take a photo with a mini Nebuta float and a person dressed as a haneto dancer.
Cost: 600yen per adult
Total visit time: 1 hour
A short distance away (by bus or car) from Aomori City is the Aomori Museum of Art. You have the option to buy tickets by exhibit: the permanent exhibit, the temporary exhibit or both. At our visit, the temporary exhibit was art from Italy's 16th century. The most famous attraction here is the "Aomori Ken" sculpture by Nara Yoshitomo that sits outside the museum and serves as the end of your tour. At 8.5 meters high high, it's a popular photo opportunity. The Museum also runs a cafe - The Four Cats - which serves items like apple curry and desserts.
Cost: 1900 yen per adult for both exhibits
Total visit time: 2 hours (or more, depending on your interest).
Where to Shop
Right next to the Nebuta Warasse Museum is A-Factory, another space dedicated to promoting the best of Aomori items. Set up more like an open market, you can buy any sort of gourmet Aomori food product here. The building also features a couple of cafes and an apple cider factory where you can view the transformation of Aomori apples to drink.
If for some reason you don't can't find it, just mention "sankaku" (triangle) to anyone, and they'll know what you're talking about. Along with A-Factory, ASPAM is THE omiyage hub in Aomori City. Shaped like a giant A for Aomori - or like we said, a triangle - ASPAM is meant to be the central hub for learning about Aomori. The first and second floors feature an array of small, Aomori-specific gift shops and speciality vendors. Other floors feature restaurants with local cuisine, a panoramic film about Aomori and and an observation deck. Crowds from tour buses as well as cruise ships seem to linger here, so depending on your timing, the number of people around can be crushing.
Aomori Station (JR)
Like most places in Japan, some of the best and most convenient shopping in the area can be found at the train station. Aomori Station has a variety of omiyage shops, a foreign foods market, a MUJI (clothes and housewares) and a JINS (glasses on the go).
**A special note about shopping in Aomori: When you spend over 5000yen on certain approved items, you are able to purchase them TAX FREE! This requires filling out a special form and handing over your passport. Usually if you just mention your passport, the salesperson will know what to do.
What are your top spots to visit in Aomori City? Leave a comment below or reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org!