Towadako is on the border of Akita and Aomori Prefectures. Towadako, which is Japan’s 3rd deepest lake, has beautiful water that depending on the time of year and the weather changes to various shades of blue. Towadako is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano and as a result is surrounded by small mountains. These make for nice overhead shots of the lake, but there are also trails that go around the lake if you feel up to some hiking.
The Oirase Stream is a beautiful stream in the north of Japan. Starting from Towadako, the stream runs for about 10 km and is easy accessible by car. Maybe too easy actually if you are looking for a peaceful get away as the road runs literally right next to it; however, don’t let this stop you from going, especially in the fall. It will get a little crowded, but in the early morning and late in the afternoon things do tend to calm down a lot. Take a look at the photos, they speak for themselves. Oh, one last thing, bring a tripod.
Like Nebuta and Tachi Neputa, Neputa is a giant float festival in Aomori Prefecture. Neputa takes place in the city of Hirosaki from August 1st to August 7th. If you want to see all 3 of the float festivals, Hirosaki isn’t a bad place to stay because it is kind in between the two other festivals (it is kind of a long trip from Aomori City, where Nebuta is, to Goshogawara, where Tachi Neputa is).
Tachi Neputa takes place about the same time as Nebuta, in Goshogawara, from August 4th-8th. Like Nebuta Matsuri, Tachi Neputa Matsuri is a night festival where extremely large floats are carried around in a parade like fashion. The difference is in the “tachi” which actually means “standing” in Japanese. So instead of large, wide floats like at Nebuta, here you can see really tall ones. The floats can be as big as about 70 feet (22 meters) and weigh around 15 tons!
Nebuta Matsuri is a lot more famous, but I actually prefer Tachi Neputa.
Nebuta Matsuri, in Aomori Prefecture, is considered to be one of Tohoku’s best festivals. Apparently a lot of people think so because last year an estimated 3.7 million people came to see it! Nebuta takes place from August 2nd to the 7th every year and after living in Japan for a few years I will finally have the chance to go this year in 2007. There are actually 3 festivals in Aomori at about the same time and all of them are similar, but slightly different. The three are:
One thing you need to know about Nebuta is that it is REALLY crowded. If you are just a spectactor it might not matter as much, but if you are a photographer, you should do one of the following things to be able to get an unobstructed view:
The Tōhoku region (東北地方, Tōhoku-chihō) which means “northeast,” is most northern region of Honshū, the largest island of Japan. The region consists of six prefectures: Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures.
Tōhoku retains a reputation as a remote region, offering breathtaking scenery but a harsh climate. Tōhoku, like most of Japan, is hilly or mountainous, with the Ou Mountains forming running north-south. Also public transportation is not as abundant as other regions but more so than Hokkaido. In Japan, Tohoku receives the fewest foreign visitors a year, but that does not mean it is not worth traveling to. Actually this area is really beautiful , especially in the Fall. Also if you like nature or want to escape the city, but can’t or don’t want to make the trip to Hokkaido, Tohoku is a very nice place to visit/photograph. Be prepared though, a lot of the good places are spread out. If you like hot springs, Tohoku has many famous ones and in the winter there are many good places to ski/snowboard. Here are a few places that are worth considering going to as a photographer/traveler: