Off Route

Hirosaki: Apples, Castles, and Ghosts, oh my!

 By Amanda Lynn Marcroft

It’s coming


No, not that. Let’s never talk about that.

The best time of the year


Also not that. Try harder.

The decorations! The music! Holiday flicks at the cinema! And let’s not forgot those innumerable, delicious holiday treats! The absolute, number 1, best day of the year is just around the corner…



For those who didn’t grow up with this treasure of a holiday it may be a challenge to fully appreciate its magnificence and clear superiority. My heart weeps for you. But alas, this is a column for travel not culture, and so I cannot take the time necessary to fully explain the travesty of your Halloween-less childhood. Let’s just say that you’ve missed out on the epitome of annual enjoyment and move on. You can still live meaningful lives. Probably.

Regardless of your appreciation for candy crazed children, Halloween this year is going to be epic as Everest of Apples’ annual Halloween party is being held in the lovely city of Hirosaki and is not to be missed. The Apple Capital may not be the supernatural epicentre of Japan, but don’t fret, they’ll have plenty to keep you entertained after the party (and after all it is Japan- there are ghosts everywhere).


Spot the ghost! Hint: it’s white

Hirosaki is best known for its gorgeous castle and is often lauded as the ‘’Kyoto of the North.’’ They’ve got everything from old school Edo-period homes to sweet tattoo parlours and badass cafes. In fact, I could recommend a visit to Hirosaki based on the food alone. I once had a field trip to the city; upon arrival I promptly slipped off and booked it to Azuki-an where I bought up all the strawberry daifuku they had. My co-workers are now convinced I’m some kind of high-brow foodie.


My apologies to the disappointed daifuku seekers of May 5th, 2014

Beyond food Hirosaki is a fantastic place for scenery; the gorgeous traditional buildings of the samurai district sit alongside beautiful Western Colonial style architecture, giving it a unique flare. One of my best recommendations for anyone new to the city is to just wander about and enjoy, especially the temple district which leads into a cute little park with a gorgeous panoramic view. If walking isn’t your thing though, there is an adorable miniature city you can tromp around in while pretending to be that giant pochari lizard we all love (come in costume for full effect).


A prize-winner for sure!

Whether you come down to party with EoA on the 31st or not (though I highly encourage you to because, again, HALLOWEEN!!!) definitely make the trip out to see Hirosaki at some point. The Snow Lantern Festival in February and Hanami in spring are also great opportunities to take a gander but believe me when I say one trip won’t be enough, so get started now! Get dressed and get pumped to spend the best night of the year with the best people in the prefecture. Happy Halloween!

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Did I mention they’re obsessed with apples? Apple bobbing should really happen

More Info:

Getting There:

  • Drive

Hirosaki is fairly car-friendly and wheels can help cut down on long walks to places further out

  • Train

About 45min from Aomori City on the Ou Line. Get off at Hirosaki Station and walk or taxi where you want to go

Getting Out:

  • Hirosaki is full of great food, I particularly recommend the daifuku at Azuki-an, and I generally abhor mochi in any form
  • The Appleland Onsen is smaller and less apple-filled than the name might imply but still loads of fun and worth checking out
  • There are some great orchards and fields in and around Hirosaki that might still have some fruit for the picking if you’re lucky

Travel Tip:

Wearing your costume on the train can elicit some fantastic looks but make sure your six-foot scaly tail isn’t in the way when the doors close; they’re disinclined to open again. If you leave your one-of-a-kind replica bat’leth on the platform though, no worries, all trains have a lost & found, and I know people who have shown up for their things a month later with no issues.


One thought on “Hirosaki: Apples, Castles, and Ghosts, oh my!

  1. Pingback: October 2014, Vol. 2 | Good Morning Aomori produced by Aomori AJET

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