The Silent North

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The northern part of Honshū 本州 is an often underestimated jewel. This is where I carried on my PhD researches and the majority of my fieldwork, therefore I am particularly fond of this place. The prefecture of Aomori 青森県 in particular is home to one of the most charming spiritual landscapes of the whole Japan, that is the Mt. Osore near Mutsu-shi. Mt. Osore (in Japanese Osore-zan 恐山 , literally Dread Mountain) is popular nationwide as the “Hell Mountain”, a place where the spirits of the dead dwell, where ghost storie resonates in the air, and where it is still possible to meet some itako, the blind shamans who invoke the souls of one’e deceased ancestor. The discovery of this region of Japan is an amazing suprise, a different take on the country culture. Here is the itinerary I suggest to enjoy the silent and magic atmosphere of the northern Honshu.

The travel

Duration: 10+ days
What you’ll discover: Tōhoku, Aomori prefecture, Aomori-shi, Hirosaki-shi, Mutsu-shi, Osorezan, Tono
Optional: Tsugaru, Goshirakawa, Takayama Inari Jinja
Suggested departure: July 18th
Alternative departure on July 21st, arrival at Osorezan on the 23rd and stay in the North to attend the various matsuri
Transportation:from Tokyo Shinkansen to Tōhoku (suggested station Hachinohe), and use of local trains or car rental for the rest of the stay in the North.

See the suggested itinerary below the video

Day 1:
Arrival in Tokyo, accomodation in hotel, and relax. Afternoon of relaxation in the city (depending on the accommodation, Asakusa or Harajuku), dinner.

Day 2:
Optional – morning visit to the Meiji Jingu
In the afternoon departure for Tōhoku – Hachinohe with Shinkansen from Tokyo Station (circa 3 hours).
Arrival in the city, accommodation.

Day 3:
Visit of Hachinohe (Kabushima Jinja, Ogami jinja, Shinra Jinja and Shinmeigu, Tanesashi beach)

Day 4
Departure for Mutsu.
Bus to the Osorezan and visit to the mountain for the whole day.
Overnight in Hachinohe.

Day 5
Aomori. Visit of the city and its surroundings
– Prefectural Folk Museum (optional)
– Acquarium (optional)
– Sannai-Maruyama Ruins
– Onsen
Overnight

Day 6
From Aomori visit of Hirosaki city and its temples.
In the late afternoon, transfer to Misawa to attend the local Tanabata Matsuri and overnight.

Day 7
Free day. Optional:
– Visit to Towada Ko and outdoor leisure
– Visit to Tsugaru region (Goshogawara and Takayama Inari Jinja)
Overnight in Misawa

Day 8
Tono monogatari – visit to the town of Japanese folklore. Overnight

Day 9
Tokyo – visit to be planned according to the indivual desires of the participants

Day 10
Departure

Overnight alternative: instead of different hotels in different cities, it is possible to rent an independent house in the city of Misawa, which is a quite convenient location for all the destinations suggested.

READ ALSO: Meeting an Itako: Nakamura-san

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