Walked from our hotel over to Tokyo Station (~ 15 minutes) and boarded the Shinkansen for Aomori, at the northern end of the main Japanese Island, Honshu. Sleek, smooth looking ride parked on the track platform as we board. As we move out of Tokyo we notice the smooth quiet ride. Looking out the window watching the city buildings pass by we figure we are going 40 mph. As we leave the urban density and enter the suburban, and then countryside, the ride is still very quiet & smooth; even the corners are slightly banked to reduce friction/noise. The only difference now is that the window views are passing by much quicker. I'll say - we're now doing 180 mph ! The USA has trouble keeping trains on the tracks at 50 mph ! Arrived in Aomori and then walked to our hotel. Great ride.
Aomori is a picturesque harbor town. The Bay Bridge and the ASPAM Building are interesting architectural sights, but the Nebuta Museum was the town's treat !
The annual Nebuta Matsuri Festval is the theme of the museum. This August week long festival of floats features warrior figures constructed of washi paper on wire frames mounted on wooden platforms. They are 9 meters wide, 5 meters high, and weigh 1,000's of pounds. There are two dozen floats each year accompanied by music (drums, flutes & cymbals) & costumed dancers. All floats & music are designed around the central festival theme of the year.
Next day we took a bus about 40 minutes outside of town to the Hakkoda Tram. At the 4,350 foot upper station there were numerous hiking trails, and gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside; though before the sun burned off the clouds around noon, visibility was a few 100 feet at best. And that was horizontally, as vertically was a total white-out. But with noon, and the victory of the sun, the views become stunning;
green mountains, valleys, and the ocean in the distance. Though nearing mid-June there were still large snow covered valleys and alpine meadows. I can only imagine this place in winter.
Ciao for now