If water is the source of life, peninsular Aomori is life-promoting. Roughly 800 kilometers of coastline enclose some of Northern Japan’s most serene mountain lakes, pristine rivers, singing waterfalls, colorful ponds, and unique hot springs. Each spring, melting snowfall from magnificent Mt. Hakkoda, Mt. Iwaki, and the Shirakami Mountain Range release crystal clear water to the land and the sea of Aomori.
Aomori’s watery wonders of nature stimulate visitors to exercise, de-stress, and regenerate. River rafters, sea kayakers, hot spring soakers, forest meditators, scuba divers, and anglers find all they need for physical and mental wellbeing. And the local food scene gifts healthful, sustainable cuisine. Exercising abundant environmental resources, Aomori is developing into a natural fitness and wellness center.
WATER FITNESS AND WELLNESS
Fukaura Town Sea Kayaking
On Aomori’s southwestern coast, seaside Fukaura Town provides a wealth of fitness adventures in natural settings. Start the morning with a calm kayaking trip amidst hundreds of tiny craggy islets, some with minuscule Shinto Shrines perched upon them. Then, paddle into Gangara Cave. Listen to the soothing rhythm of waves tapping the cave walls. Small bats silently flutter near the cave’s ceiling, and schools of serene pufferfish move slowly in the aquamarine water.
Try forest bathing at the Juniko (Twelve Lakes) Visitor Center, just a six-kilometer drive inland from Fukaura’s coast. Although the park is named for twelve lakes, meandering forest trails connect thirty-three distinctively colored bodies of water. Aoike (meaning blue-green) Pond is the highlighted attraction. The inky-bluish-green pond water is so clear that fallen trees are visible ten meters below the surface. Wakitsubo Pond is favorable location to conclude or pause hiking. A traditional tea house harvests the flavorful pond water for brewing matcha tea. Savor an aromatic bowl as leaf-filtered sunbeams shine onto a trickling stream.
Freshwater Fitness Fun
River and lake sports in Aomori range from soothing to heart-pumping, depending on the location and season. Choose which matches your skills and interests. Rafting trips on the Iwaki River stimulate the most adrenaline in April and May when fresh snowmelt flows vigorously downstream. Brave rafters might choose to jump off cliffs and float downstream in the river’s calm stretches.
In August, another exciting option for water-based exercise is the Paddle Festival in Tsugaru Shirakami Lake. Japanese river guides lead canoe and raft clinics. In addition, competitive paddlers can push themselves during kayak races.
On the other hand, bird-watchers may prefer canoeing slowly on Lake Miyama, a habitat of herons, kingfishers, monkeys, and other local beings. The lake surface reflects the forested slopes surrounding it. If you stroll barefoot in the shallows of the Ogawa River, which feeds the lake, tiny fish might tickle your feet.
Yoga on the Water
Stand-up paddleboarding, also known as SUP, is popular in lakes and bays around Aomori. But one version － SUP yoga － stands out for promoting muscular development, balance, and coordination. Adding the exotic nature of many of Aomori’s locations to these benefits produces unforgettable wellness vacations. One of the most memorable SUP spots is Hachinohe City’s Kabushima Island, a national designated natural monument. Black-tailed gulls breed here in spring and leave in summer in the tens of thousands. You can practice SUP yoga just off the island as birds in love circle above a picturesque lighthouse and sacred shrine.
Underwater Off the Aomori Coast
Built of ancient volcanic matter and sculptured b wind and waves, Fukaura’s coastline is often rocky, craggy, and mysterious both above and below water. Underwater canyons and holey rock formations harbor unusual sea plants and fish native to Northern Japan. Divers occasionally spot dolphins in the sea. Underwater visibility on clear days can extend more than twenty-five meters. In addition to Fukaura, Japanese divers highly rate Cape Tappi in northern Aomori and Hachinohe on Aomori’s eastern coast.
DETOXING IN AOMORI
Digitally Freed in a Mountainous Japanese Inn
Two hours inland from Fukaura is a locally celebrated traditional inn that proves the antidote for digital stress. Smartphones don’t function in the Aoni Inn‘s secluded mountainous vally. By design, rooms at the Aoni Inn lack electricity. Instead, old-fashioned kerosene lamps illuminate the accommodations. While soaking in the outdoor springs, you’ll hear only the sounds of a stream, a waterfall, and the sighs of guests contentedly de-stressing. Communication is eye-to-eye, and laughter comes naturally. The wholesome meals include forest-foraged mushrooms and mountain vegetables.
Rare Seaside Hot Spring
From Twelve Lakes, drive twenty minutes north along the curving coast to watch the sunset from one of Japan’s most famous seaside hot springs. Despite cold waves lapping at the nearby rocks, your body feels warm. The sun slops below the horizon, and the sea briefly flashes sun-red. Locals claim that Koganezaki Furofushi Onsen‘s orange-brown iron-rich mineral water alleviates nerve problems, back pains, rheumatism, and skin disease.
FISHING TOURS AND HEALTHY CATCHES
Stream and River Fishing
Freshwater fishing is a tradition in Aomori. Char, trout, and other fish thrive in vast swath of Aomori’s riverine habitats. Centuries ago, traditional hunters and gatherers, known as matagi, planted trout above waterfalls to guarantee food supplies in the high mountains. They also invented a variety of fly fishing known as tenkara. Today, guides take anglers on relaxing hikes to pristine locations, such as Oirase Gorge.
Sail with the Tiny Tuna Fleet and Eat Sustainably Caught and Prepared Tuna
Oma, Aomori, in the only town in the world where visitor an sail with pole-and-line tuna anglers. Compared to net fishing, pole fishing produces little bycatch. Oma’s pros catch the highly sought and esteemed Oma Tuna that often land the highest bids at Tokyo fish market’s New Year’s auctions. If you and the fishermen are lucky, you’ll watch a several-hundred-kilogram leviathan hauled onto a ship before your eyes.
Moreover, Oma’s chefs specialize in tuna dishes you won’t find in your home country and even Tokyo. Following generations-old recipes that minimize waste, residents create traditional delicacies with body parts that most restaurants discard, for example, tuna heart, skin, and eye muscles. Superlative sushi, sashimi, and dishes made with locally harvested nutritious seaweed are also available.
Nature, adventure, and wellness travelers, solo or with families or friends, will return home cleansed, refreshed and dripping with memories of Aomori’s unusual waterscapes.