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A Lonely Splendor in Aomori Harbour, A Past Link Between Mainland Japan and Hokkaido

With its nickname “the prefecture of apples”, Aomori is often associated with green and red, trees and farmland. What some people do not notice is that in Aomori you can find blue sea as well.

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Since Aomori is the northernmost prefecture of the main island of Japan, this strait separates the mainland of Japan and Hokkaido. Yet, in this vast blue strait called Tsugaru Strait, you can only find the lonely splendor of a big yellow and white ship.

The ship in the picture above is called “Hakkoudamaru” and in fact, is no longer in service. It now serves only as a museum. For 24 years, from 1964 to 1988, it linked Aomori and Hakone (the southernmost city in Hokkaido), but it was terminated after a tunnel connecting Aomori and Hakone was built.

The tunnel is the world’s longest tunnel and it took much money and manpower to build. However, its construction was considered to be necessary after a tragedy in 1954. The strait was always rough but in 1954, a strong typhoon swiped across the area and a number of passenger ships were sunk. It was reported that 1430 people passed away and disappeared.

 Many regular routes across this strait were cancelled after the tragedy, and now only “Hakkoudamaru” remains here never to sail again, but only as a museum to record that history.

Aomori Harbour has witnessed much loss. Many battleships were bombed during the Second World War in this area. In front of “Hakkoudamaru”, there is a memorial dedicated to the war.

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Regardless, you can still find something heartwarming at the port of Aomori. In the park area, you will find a statue called “two people (futari)”. It is inspired by a pair of siblings in the novel “Memories” by Osamu Dazai. They now represent Aomori and Hakone, linked by a string of red thread. No matter what happens in Tsugaru Strait, they will always been linked.

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 Since it is Aomori, if you are still looking to quench your thirst for apples, you can visit the A-factory with its warehouse-looking architecture which is just opposite  “Hakkoudamaru”. “A” stands for apple, of course; and inside you will find a cider brewery and other apple-related products.

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Information

Aomori Port
Address: 3-105, Honcho, Aomori-shi, Aomori, 030-0802
Access: A one-minute walk from Aomori station (please note that the shinkasen usually arrives at “Shin-Aomori” station instead of “Aomori” station.”)
Airport: 15km from Aomori Airport

Article by Eva

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