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Aomori by Rail: Three unique train experiences to enjoy in Aomori Prefecture

Aomori by Rail: Three unique train experiences to enjoy in Aomori Prefecture

As the saying goes, sometimes it’s just as much about the journey as the destination. Nowhere is this truer than in Aomori Prefecture, where you can ride a luxurious sightseeing train boasting panoramic views of picturesque scenery, a nostalgic single-track railway traveling through rustic landscapes with special seasonal features, and even a cable railway descending to the deepest underground station in the world.

“Resort Shirakami” Luxury Excursion Trains

Resort Shirakami” is known as one of the most beautiful train rides in all of Japan, offering spectacular views of the mountains of the Shirakami Sanchi region, a UNESCO-designated World Natural Heritage Site, as well as of the Sea of Japan coast. It starts at Aomori Station and passes through Hirosaki and Goshogawara on its route toward Akita Station along the JR Gono Line. The cars of the train have spacious interiors incorporating Aomori cypress wood, and the windows are extra wide so that passengers can take in the beautiful vistas. In addition to ordinary seats in a two-by-two configuration, passengers can also reserve special box compartment seats for an even more comfortable journey (all seats on the train require advance reservations). 


When the train approaches particularly scenic areas, it runs at a reduced speed so that passengers can appreciate the stunning scenery in a more leisurely manner. In addition, at Senjojiki Station, the train even makes an approximately 15-minute sightseeing stop so that passengers can get off and take a stroll along the Senjojiki Coast, a rocky beach created by an earthquake during the eighteenth century. Onboard events such as performances of traditional Tsugaru puppet theater, demonstrations of kataribe (legends or folktales recounted by a professional storyteller) in the Tsugaru dialect, and live performances of folk music played on the Tsugaru shamisen are also offered to entertain passengers. There are three different Resort Shirakami trains, named Buna (“beech tree”), Aoike (“blue pond,” after the famous sightseeing spot in the Shirakami Sanchi region), and Kumagera (“black woodpecker,” a species endemic to the region), each with its own unique exterior color scheme and interior design.

Tsugaru Railway Seasonally Themed Trains

The Tsugaru Railway is Japan’s northernmost private railway. Its classic diesel trains travel across about 20.7 kilometers of the Tsugaru Plain on a single-track rail, connecting Tsugaru Goshogawara and Tsugaru Nakasato in about 45 minutes. However, the railway also offers special seasonally themed trains for the entertainment of passengers. During the months of July and August, all trains on the Tsugaru Railway become “Furin Trains” decorated with wind chimes made from locally produced Tsugaru Kanayama pottery, as well as paper strips inscribed with haiku poems. The tinkling sound of the wind chimes and the rustling of the haiku strips in the breeze are said to make passengers feel cool and comfortable even despite the summer heat. From September to around mid-October, all trains on the line operate as “Suzumushi Trains” featuring the chirping of baskets full of live bell crickets, a quintessential sound of autumn. These crickets are actually raised with love and care by Tsugaru Railway station staff! And of course, from December to the end of March, three trains per day as operated as the famous “Stove Trains” equipped with potbellied stoves.

Seikan Tunnel Tappi Shako Line

Can’t get enough of trains? How about taking a ride down to the deepest underground station in the world? At the Seikan Tunnel Memorial Hall in Sotogahama Town, cable cars on the Seikan Tunnel Tappi Shako Line transport visitors to an underground station inside the tunnel, located about 140 meters underwater. The Seikan Tunnel is a railway tunnel that connects Aomori to Hokkaido and opened in 1988 as the world’s longest tunnel with an undersea section. The entire one-way journey on the narrow-gauge funicular line takes only about nine minutes and allows you to get a closer look at one of the most amazing feats of engineering in the modern world. It’s definitely an item to check off your bucket list.


As you can see, Aomori Prefecture has plenty to offer for fans of trains and unique travel experiences. Why not incorporate one of these train rides into your trip and ensure that the journey really is just as enjoyable as the destination?

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NOTICE: Partial closure of North Hakkoda trails


CAUTION: Asian black bear alert in effect in Aomori Prefecture

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