Danny Kang

Christmas Markets in Tokyo 2020

Japan has some odd ways to celebrate Christmas. 

Christmas in Japan is a couple’s day, it’s not a day off, and it’s common to celebrate by eating KFC. 

Yes. Not just any fried chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

However, one (normal) tradition that has made it’s way to the Far East is Christmas Markets!

This 600 year old German tradition is celebrated in various parts of Japan and some of the best ones are right here in Tokyo!

So in this article, we’ll be introducing some of the best Christmas Markets you can find in Tokyo in 2020!

Warning: because of coronavirus, some places may restrict entrance or even cancel to event itself so do further research before you go!

Roppongi hills

The Roppongi Hills Christmas Market will be celebrating its 14th Christmas in 2020. This event is sponsored by Volkswagen, a German car company, so you know that this Christmas market is legitimate!

This event features a total of 7 shops, 3 for authentic German cuisines and 4 for German Christmas goods. Also, the Keyakizaka Street illuminations are close-by, so you can enjoy incredible illuminations on the way to the market. 

It doesn’t get any more authentic than this!

Info

Date & Time: 11/28/2020 – 12/25/2020 11:00 – 21:00

Access: Roppongi Hills O-Yane Plaza 

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.roppongihills.com/en/sp/christmas/2020/illumination-event/market.html

Yokohama red brick warehouse

We visited the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Markets last year and it was nothing short of amazing. There were about 20 small vendors, set up in front of the brick houses to form an alley. 

At the end of the alley is a 10m tall Christmas tree shining brighter than any Christmas tree in Japan. 

Perfect spot for any date.

Info

Date & Time: Dec 4th 2020 – Dec 25th 2020 11:00 – 21:00

Access: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse #2

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.yokohama-akarenga.jp/christmas/

Tokyo christmas market

The Tokyo Christmas Market opens again this year in 2 locations: Hibiya Park and Shinjuku Odakyu Park. This Christmas Market is easily recognizable by the Christmas Pyramid standing tall in the middle. 

Info

Date & Time: Dec 10 – Dec 25 11:00 – 22:00

Access: Hibiya Park

Admission: Free

Website: https://tokyochristmas.net/

Tokyo tower

Celebrate Christmas right under the iconic Tokyo Tower at the Ennichi Terrace Christmas Market! This Christmas Market is set up right at the base of Tokyo Tower and you can enjoy both Japanese and foreign foods!

Info

Date & Time: Oct 30 – Jan 11 

Weekdays 16:00 – 21:30 / Weekends & Holidays 11:00 – 21:30

Access: Tokyo Tower 1st Floor Entrance

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.tokyotower.co.jp/event/attraction-event/christmas-market2020/index.html

Conclusion

Unfortunately, some Christmas Markets, such as the Ebisu Garden Place Marche de Noël, are not being held this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, it’s also great to see that coronavirus countermeasures, such as requiring a mask and taking temperatures, are taken at the ones that are taking places this year. 

Whichever one you decide to go to, you’re bound to have a great Christmas time! Let’s be safe and have a Merry Merry Christmas!

Which Christmas Market will you be attending this year?

Illuminations in Tokyo

As winter begins, the days are becoming shorter in Japan. While this means that your daytime is limited, it’s finally the season for Christmas decorations!

One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in Japan is to watch illuminations, and this is especially true in Tokyo. Different parts of the city light up with incredible light decorations, competing to attract the crowds. 

If you’ll be enjoying Christmas in Tokyo this year, here is a list of different places to check out the winter Christmas illuminations in 2020!

Warning: because of coronavirus, some places may restrict entrance or even cancel to event itself so do further research before you go!

Illuminations in Tokyo

marunouchi

Info

Date & Time: Nov 5 – Feb 4 15:00 – 23:00 (24:00 in December)

Access: Marunouchi Naka Dori, Around Tokyo Station, Otemachi Naka Dori

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.marunouchi.com/event/detail/25828/

Tokyo midtown

Info

Date & Time: 11/19/2020 – 2/28/2021

Access: Tokyo Midtown (Roppongi) 

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.tokyo-midtown.com/jp/event/wintermoments/

Ebisu garden place

Info

Date & Time: 11/14/2020 – 1/11/2021 11:00 – 24:00

Access: Ebisu Garden Place Plaza

Admission: Free

Website: https://gardenplace.jp/special/2020baccarat/

Omotesando

Info

Date & Time: 12/1/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 22:00

Access: Harajuku Station to Omotesando Station

Admission: Free

Website: http://omotesando.or.jp/illumi/

Tokyu plaza rooftop

Info

Date & Time: 11/17/2020 – 17:00 – 23:00

Access: Tokyu Plaza 6th Floor

Admission: Free

Website: https://omohara.tokyu-plaza.com/news/news.html?_id=1214

Tokyo dome city

Info

Date & Time: 11/13/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 24:00

Access: Tokyo Dome City

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/en/tourists/illumination/

Keyakizaka street illumination

Info

Date & Time: 11/13/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 23:00

Access: Roppongi Keyakizaka Street

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.roppongihills.com/sp/christmas/2020/illumination-event/keyakizaka.html

Yomiuri land

Info

Date & Time: 10/22/2020 – 4/4/2021 16:00 – 20:30

Access: Yomiuri Land

Admission: 1,500 yen for adults

Website: https://www.yomiuriland.com/jewellumination/guidance/

tokyo city keiba

Info

Date & Time: 11/7/2020 – 1/11/2021 16:30 – 21:30

Access: Tokyo City Keiba

Admission: 1000 yen

Website: https://tokyomegaillumi.jp/

tokyo midtown hibiya "Magic time illumination"

Info

Date & Time: 11/17/2020 – 12/25/2020 17:00 – 23:00

Access: Tokyo Midtown Hibiya

Admission: Free

Website: https://www.hibiya.tokyo-midtown.com/xmas/

Honorable mention

Tokyo has some amazing Christmas illuminations, but there are places in other parts of Japan that are just as incredible, if not more. Here are some noteworthy places to take a visit to!

nabana no sato (Mie)

Info

Date & Time: 10/24/2020 – 5/31/2021 

10:00 – 21:00 (22:00 on weekends, holidays, except January and February)

Access: Nabana no Sato

Admission: 2,300 yen

Website: https://www.nagashima-onsen.co.jp/nabana/illumination/index.html

huis ten bosch (nagasaki)

Info

Date & Time: 11/1/2020 – 12/25/2020 

Access: Huis Ten Bosch

Admission: 7,000 yen

Website: https://www.huistenbosch.co.jp/event/hikari/

Conclusion

While there are many places to see the Christmas illuminations on this list, it’s nowhere close to being a complete list. There are many smaller places and random streets around Tokyo that have fantastic illuminations as well!

What is your favorite place to watch Christmas illuminations?

Ways to celebrate Christmas in Japan

メリークリスマス!
Merry Christmas everyone!
 
Christmas is near and it’s that time of the year to gather at the fireplace, open Santa’s thoughtful gifts, and have a lovely family Christmas dinner!
 
Christmas is celebrated in Japan too and you can feel the holiday spirits here in Tokyo! However, when it comes to Japanese Christmas traditions, things are very different compared to western countries. 
 
KFC is the main food for Christmas, it’s not a day off for schools and offices, and people tend to celebrate with their loved ones rather than their families! You could say that Japan has its own way of celebrating Christmas. If you’re curious about these differences, check out our Youtube video for more!

That isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy Christmas in Japan, so in this article, we will explore some of those differences as well as many different ways that you can enjoy Christmas in Japan!

go Watch some illuminations

In Japan, people don’t decorate their homes. Rather, public places like malls and parks are the ones being decorated and they are on another level. Since Japan is a business-oriented country, lots of big companies see Christmas as a good way to market and attract people, so they compete with one another to get the biggest and baddest Christmas setup. 

Seriously, they are nothing short of AMAZING. 

The quality of these illuminations (light decorations) are up there with Disneyland. There are many different places that have illuminations, so I highly recommend stopping by one!

Visit a Christmas Markets

One Christmas tradition that Japan has successfully adopted is Christmas markets (perhaps due to Japan’s love for beer)! Most Christmas Markets in Tokyo also have amazing illuminations which makes it a magical experience (great for dates). 

Most markets are open all through December, so come stop by, eat some hot dogs or takoyaki, sip on some hot chocolate or beer, and enjoy the Christmas holidays!

Christmas Markets are always a fun time for everyone!

eat strawberry shortcake

The Christmas fruitcake equivalent in Japan is the strawberry shortcake. 
If you’ve ever had cake or been to a bakery in Japan, you should already know that Japan’s pastries are INCREDIBLE
 
Nothing else needs to be said. 

Have your own christmas get together with a nabe party

KFC gets packed and if you’re celebrating Christmas in Japan, why not celebrate with Japanese food?
 
Nabe, aka Japanese hotpot, is the staple winter food in Japan and is sold at pretty much every supermarket. It’s super easy to make, has lots of nutrients, and warms up your body. 
 
What can be better than gathering friends and family at the Kotatsu table and sharing a big pot of nabe? 

go snowboarding

Another great way to celebrate Christmas can be on the slopes!
 
Japan is made up of 80% or so mountains and there are literally thousands of ski resorts in this island country. If you love skiing or snowboarding, you can check out our most recommended ski resorts in Japan!
 

Share some gifts

Christmas is the season of giving and while you’re in Japan, why not get a Japanese gift for a loved one? Since Japan is all about business, there are many high-quality Christmas gifts you can find in Japan. Around Christmas time, you can find gifts being sold everywhere from big shopping malls to the middle of the JR station. 
 
This Christmas, show a loved one how much they mean to you!

Conclusion

The Christmas traditions are different in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that the Christmas spirit isn’t there! Wherever you are in the world, I hope that Santa comes by with many presents and that you have a wonderful Christmas season this year!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Explaining the Go To Campaign

The Japanese government started to pay people to travel during the coronavirus. 

Sounds crazy? Maybe so.

In July of 2020, The Japanese government launched a campaign called the Go To Campaign where they would subsidize up to 20,000 yen per night per travel. This was combat the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Japan’s solution for recovering the economy was the Go-To Campaign where they subsidize up to 20,000 yen per night per hour. 

Let’s take a deeper look.

Why did they start the go to Campaign?

In 2020, the Coronavirus (covid-19) impacted the world and people’s daily lives have changed completely. Masks started becoming mandatory, social distancing became a daily practice, and travel was no longer an option. 

As many of you may know, Japan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. On top of this, they spent around 12.6 billion US dollars to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because they expected an additional 10 million tourists. 

However, instead of an increase, there was a 99.9% drop in tourists because of the coronavirus. So in order to save the travel industry, as well as the whole economy, the Japanese government invested 12.9 trillion yen into the Go To Campaign to increase domestic travels and support businesses nationwide.

who qualifies for the go-to campaign?

Anyone in Japan qualifies for the Go To Campaign. You don’t have to be Japanese and regardless of visa type, anyone who is in Japan at the current moment is able to take advantage of this campaign.

go to campaign details

The Go To Campaign started in July 22,2020 for residents and travelers that are outside of Tokyo. Because Tokyo had the most number of covid-19 infections (and people), the government supported any type of travels that were outside of this urban metropolis. 

However, the campaign didn’t see much results because most middle/upper class citizens lived in Tokyo (aka rich people). As a result, they included Tokyo into the Go To Campaign starting October 1, 2020.

How much does the go to campaign cover?

 The Go To Campaign covers up to 20,000 yen, or up to half the price, per night per person for travels in Japan. The campaign also covers day trips up to 10,000 yen per personThere are also unlimited times that you can use it, which is what makes it so attractive.

From the discounted cost, 35% of it goes to travel costs, which are hotel, transportation, and travel agency fees. The remaining 15% goes to other expenses at the destination, which includes food and shopping. 

So to fully understand how this works, let’s go over some scenarios. 

Travel cost scenarios

Scenario 1: Travels cost 40,000 yen per night

If your travels cost 40,000 per night, you get a 14,000 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 6,000 yen worth of local vouchers.

Scenario 2: Travels cost 10,000 yen per night
If your travels cost 10,000 per night, you get a 3,500 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 1,500 yen worth of local vouchers.
Scenario 3: Travels cost 50,000 yen per night
If your travels cost 50,000 per night, since the upper limit is 20,000, you get a 14,000 yen discount on your travel fee and receive 6000 yen worth of local vouchers.

day trip scenarios

Scenario 1: Day Trip costs 20,000 yen
If your day trip costs 20,000 yen, you receive a 7,000 yen discount and 3,000 yen worth of local vouchers.
 Scenario 2: Day Trip costs 5,000 yen
If your day trip costs 5,000 yen, you receive a 1,750 yen discount and 750 yen worth of local vouchers.
Scenario 2: Day Trip costs 30,000 yen
If your day trip costs 30,000 yen, it’s the same scenario as Scenario 1 and you receive a 7,000 yen discount and 3,000 yen worth of local vouchers. 

When does the go to campaign end?

The Go To Campaign ends when the funds are exhausted, which is estimated to be around the end of January 2021. However, the funds are being used faster than expected, so there is a possibility that the government will add more funds to this campaign to last until the end of January.

local vouchers during your travels

When traveling, the Japanese government also wants you to support the local businesses as well, so they provide the remaining 15% subsidization in the form of local vouchers which are either in paper or electronic form, depending on the accommodation and how you book your travels.

Paper vouchers

Paper vouchers, you receive at the accommodation and they look something like this.

(source: goto.jata-net.or.jp)

On the vouchers is the official Go To Campaign logo, price of the voucher, prefectures where you can use the voucher, and the expiration dates. 

Electronic vouchers

If you don’t receive a physical voucher at your accommodation, then your vouchers are most likely online and you can access them here.

When you’re filling out your information to access your electronic vouchers, you’ll need a couple of information:

  • Booking agency ID (ID lookup table)
  • Reservation confirmation number
  • Prefecture

Every time you open a new browser to access your coupons, you’ll need to input this information so make sure to have your info ready before making a purchase!

how to use the local vouchers

You can only use the local vouchers at your destination prefecture and it’s neighbors. As for stores, it has to be somewhere that’s registered with the Go To Campaign.

On the Go To Campaign website, there’s a map that shows you shops that accept them, and what type of coupons they accept. There’s a huge variety in the type of shops that accept coupons. They range from convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, drugstores, and shopping centers. Note that once you use the coupons, you don’t get back change, so be careful.

From our experience, most places accepted the paper coupons, but we had a hard time finding somewhere that accepted the electronic ones.

How to use the Go to Travel Campaign 

In order to receive the go to travel benefits during your travels, you need to book your travels through a registered travel agency or booking company. There are two scenarios when it comes to using the Go To Travel Campaign: booking a travel package or booking your travels separately. 

If you book your travels separately, meaning you book your hotel, transportation, and activities separately, the Go To Discount usually only applies to your hotel. On the contrary, if you decide to go with a travel package, the Go To Discount applies to the travel package and everything it may contain. This usually includes transportation and hotel. However, the drawbacks of a package are that there’s less freedom of choice, there’s a travel agency fee attached, and it often includes a middle to high-end hotel which may not fit budget travelers. 

where to book your travels

Unfortunately, many booking agencies and platforms in Japan are in Japanese, but there are some that offer English. Here’s a list of recommended travel agencies to consider for the Go To Travel Campaign. 

  1.  Nippon Travel Agency (English available)
  2.  Japan Wonder Travel (English available)
  3. Booking.com (English website)
  4.  H.I.S (English available)
  5.  Jalan.net (Japanese only)
  6. Yahoo! Travels (Japanese only)
  7. JTB (Japanese only)

what is go to eats campaign?

The GO To Eats campaign is another variation of the Go to campaign to support local businesses, for those that aren’t traveling. When you make an online reservation with the Go To Eats Campaign, you receive back points which you can use for different purchases later on. 

For lunch reservations you receive 500 yen worth of points per person and for dinner, you receive 1000 yen worth of points per person. However, in order to receive the point benefits of this campaign, there are 2 conditions:

  • make an online reservation with an official registered reservation service
  • register your point card with your account.
As for the type of points, it comes in existing 
 
For the points, it’s existing point systems. (T-point, Docomo, Rakuten, etc.)
Some online reservation service include:
As for the type of points, it’s in whichever form the online reservation site uses. For example, I used Tabelog and I received T-points, which can be used in places like Family Mart, Yoshinoya, and Maruetsu. 

The Go To Eats Campaign is estimated to last until January 2021 and the points can be used until March 2021.

safety precautions for covid-19

This campaign is a great way to go out and experience travels and dining that you haven’t been able to try, but let’s not forget that the coronavirus is still around. Whenever you go out, always make sure to:
  • wear a mask
  • use hand sanitizers frequently
  • avoid big groups
  • any other precautions that could help lower the infection rates as possible

conclusion

The Go To Campaign comes in many different variations and it’s definitely a good way to boost the economy. By practicing safety precautions while also spending, we can help bring up the Japan economy together while also having a good time!
I hope that this information was useful to everyone and don’t forget to wear a mask!
 
Also feel free to share this information with anyone else that might be interested in the Go To Campaign!

Things to do in Hirosaki

When most people hear the about Hirosaki, two words come to mind: apple and castle. Hirosaki is most known for the abundance of delicious apples, as well as the famous Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival, which is held every year during the sakura season
Outside of apples and castles, Hirosaki is a small historic town with a friendly local community. There are unique cultures and interesting places around this small town. Here, we’ll show you several ways to enjoy a trip to Hirosaki!
 

How to Get to Hirosaki

From Aomori City

You can get to Hirosaki from Aomori city by taking the Ou line. The Ou line runs through Aomori and Shin-Aomori Station and it takes roughly 40 minutes to get to Hirosaki Station.

From Tokyo By Bus

You can get to Hirosaki directly by bus. It’s quite an affordable option and you don’t need to transfer, but the only downsides are that there are only a couple buses a day and it takes 8-10 hours.

From Tokyo By Train

If you decide to go by Shinkansen, it would take only 3 hours to get to Aomori City, where you transfer to the Ou line to get to Hirosaki. Taking the Shinkansen is also much more expensive compared to the bus option, but you can get to Hirosaki with no additional cost if you use the Japan Rail Pass

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Hirosaki is undoubtedly during the Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival, around late April or early May. There are hundreds of sakura festivals held throughout Japan, but the one at Hirosaki Castle is one of the most famous festivals. The sakura usually blooms around late April to early May, and many people visit Hirosaki during Golden Week, a national holiday week that happens to be around this time. 

If you’re visiting Hirosaki, we recommend going before Golden Week, around the last 10 days of April, so you can experience the local culture and the sakura celebration before it becomes flooded with tourists from all over Japan.

Popular Places

Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is the pride and joy of the city of Hirosaki. 

It’s one of the most visited places in the whole Aomori Prefecture and especially popular during the sakura season. The Hirosaki Sakura Festival is one of the most famous sakura festivals in the whole country and the number of visitors to the castle in one day can easily triple the total population in Hirosaki!

While Sakura season and fall foliage are the best times to visit, Hirosaki Castle Park is always a great place to stop by when in the area. 

Hours: 24 hours

Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8356

Phone Number: 0172-33-8733

Apple Park

Apple Park is a huge park with a huge field of apple trees. There are over 1300 apple trees lined up with 65 different kinds of apples. You can pick apples to take home and learn about the different kinds of apples. You can also buy apple souvenirs that can help support the local business as well!

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: Terasawa-125 Shimizutomita, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8262

Phone Number: 0172-36-7439

Neputa Mura

Tsugaru-han Neputa-mura , 津軽藩ねぷた村 - panoramio (1)

Right outside of Hirosaki Castle is Neputa Mura, a small plaza (inspired by) the famous Neputa Festival. There’s a food and shopping area as well as an exhibition where you can learn about the famous Neputa Festival that happens in Hirosaki around early August.

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: 〒036-8332 Aomori, Hirosaki, Kamenokomachi, 61

Phone Number: 0172-39-1511

Historical Landmarks

Starbucks - Hirosaki Park Store

The Starbucks next to Hirosaki Park has a deep history. The building has been around since 1916 and served as the residence for a division commander Daihachi Dancho Kansha, followed by the mayor of Hirosaki. The building was then registered as one of Japan’s Tangible Cultural Assets and then renovated to serve as a Starbucks in 2016. 

If you go here, you’ll notice that the building has a vintage look and the inside was designed to both preserve the historical design while serving customers. 

Hours: 7:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 〒036-8207 Aomori, Hirosaki, Kamishiroganecho, 1-1 旧第八師団長官舎内

Phone Number: 0172-39-4051

Former Hirosaki City Library

The Former Hirosaki City Library is a great place to learn about the history of the area. It was built in 1903 to commemorate Japan’s victory in the Japan-Russo War. The building, as well as many other buildings from the early 19th century, has a bit of Western style since many Western missionaries came around this time. 

The library closed down in 1931 and it is now used as a memorial and a historical landmark. 

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: 〒036-8356 Aomori, Hirosaki, Shimoshiroganecho, 追手門広場内

Phone Number: 0172-82-1642

Fujita Memorial Garden

Fujita Memorial Japanese Garden - panoramio

On the outer corner of Hirosaki Park is a calm and peaceful traditional Japanese garden. The garden’s creation commemorated the 100th year anniversary of Hirosaki City and it was named after the entrepreneur Fujita Kenichi, who owned the garden at the time. 

Hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm

Address: 8-1 Kamishiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8207

Phone Number: 0172-37-5525

Choshoji Temple

Go a bit south of Hirosaki Castle and you’ll see a huge gate leading to Chushoji Temple. This temple is one of the main historical sights of Hirosaki and is the oldest wooden building in the city. There are statues of the 100 disciples of Buddha and a monument for the Tsugaru Clan, former rulers of the area.

Hours: 9:00am – 4:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-23-8 Nishishigemori, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8273

Phone Number: 0172-32-0813

Saisho-in Monastery

The monastery dates all the way back to the 16th century and was built by the Tsugaru clan. This monastery is one of the most popular shrines visited in Hirosaki, especially the five-story pagoda.

Hours: 9:00am – 4:30pm

Address: 63 Doyamachi, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8196

Phone Number: 0172-34-1123

Adventuring Out

Mt Iwaki

Wherever you are in the city, you can always see a mountain in the background. Mt Iwaki is like the Mt Fuji of Hirosaki and is often called “Tsugaru-Fuji”. At the foot of the mountain is Iwakiyama Jinja and has a very serene atmosphere. 

If you want to climb the mountain, it takes about 4-5 hours but only an hour if you take the cable car lift. You can go hiking in the summer months and during the winter, there is a ski resort. 

Hike at Shirakami Sanchi

Shirakami Sanchi is a mountain range that sits on the border of Aomori and Akita Prefecture. The core region of the mountain range is considered a UNESCO world heritage site because of the high number of beech trees that serve as home to many animals. 

Getting into this core region requires some additional procedures, but one of the most popular routes is to hike up to the Anmon waterfalls on the northern edge of Shirakami Sanchi. 

Shirakami Sanchi Visiting Center

Hours: 8:30am – 5:00pm

Address: Kanda-61-1, Nishimeya, Nakatsugaru District, Aomori 036-1411

Phone Number: 0172-85-2810

Events in Hirosaki

Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival

The Sakura Festival is one of the biggest events held in Hirosaki. Hirosaki Castle is home to over 2600 cherry blossom trees and there are over 50 different types. The Castle Park is HUGE and every part has a different scenery filled with cherry blossoms. 

The festival starts around mid/late April and goes on for 2-3 weeks. During this period, there are food stalls set up where you can buy lots of different festival foods, play Japanese carnival games, and have a hanami (cherry blossom picnic) in lawns surrounded by the cherry blossom trees. 

There are many unique ways to enjoy the sakura. Around the center moat, you can ride a traditional boat where a staff member guides you around in the petal covered lake. If you prefer to row you rown private boat, you can do that in the west moat, where the banks are lined up with trees. After sunset, the lights come on and you can walk around and experience the Yoruzakura (night sakura). 

Here’s a video by the Hirosaki Tourism Bureau  to show you how incredible the Sakura trees in Hirosaki Castle are!

Food Stall Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm

Night Illumination Hours: 6:30pm – 10:00pm

Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8356

Cost: 300-500 yen

Phone Number: 0172-33-8733

Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival

Another famous event at Hirosaki Castle is the Snow Lantern Festival! During the snow festival, the Castle Park is covered in over 400 snow lanterns and statues all made by the local citizens. There are also food stalls, night illuminations, various cultural artworks, fireworks, and activities such as a snow slide!

The festival is a short weekend event around the 2nd week of February and goes on for 3 days. Snow festivals are incredibly beautiful in Japan and if you happen to be in Japan during the early half of February, we highly recommend checking out the Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival!

Here’s a video introducing what to expect!

Food Stall Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm

Night Illumination Hours: 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Address: 1 Shimo-shirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8356

Cost: Free

Phone Number: 0172-26-3600

Neputa Festival

The Neputa Festival is a festival in the summer where they parade around the old town near Hirosaki Castle with over 70 traditional floats. The festival starts around 7:00pm during the first week of August.

In Aomori city, there is a similar festival called the Nebuta Festival. While both festivals celebrate for the same cause, the festivals are celebrated in slightly different ways. The Nebuta Festival has a more energetic atmosphere while the Neputa Festival is more calm and visually aesthetic. The Nebuta also uses 3-D figures as floats while the Neputa in Hirosaki have fan-shaped mural floats. 

Inakadate Field Art

Tanbo art in Inakadate 2012 B

Japan has a long history with rice and in Hirosaki, rice has even become a form of art. Every year, over 700 local citizens collaborate and plan out the artwork and the result is always remarkable. The artwork is viewable around June to October and changes every year. 

During the months from June to October, you can see the rice field artwork from a high point. 

Hours: 8:30am – 6:00pm

Address: Izumi, Inakadate, Minamitsugaru District, Aomori 038-1111

Where to Stay

Hirosaki is a small town and most of what to see is somewhere between Hirosaki Station and Hirosaki Castle. 

Hostels

Budget Hotels

Mid-Range Hotels

Luxury Hotels

Ryokan