Located on the “Axe” side of Aomori (the geographical area shaped like an axe!) is Mutsu. The former Mutsu city is famous for the volcanic Osorezan Mountain Range, which is known as one of the 3 most spiritual places in Japan. Beyond the fearful mountain, Mutsu has more to offer. Explore this area with this list of the best things to do in Mystical Mutsu.
A grim volcanic mountain with a beautiful landscape. Osorezan was founded 1,200 years ago by the famed monk En’nin. It was dedicated to the Boddhisatva Jizō, a gentle motherly guardian who refrains from nirvana until all souls can enter. Consisting of eight peaks, it is said that the spirits of the dead remain here. With grim traditions and beautiful surroundings, the Osorezan area is a must see when in Mutsu.
Address: 3-2 Tanabe, Mutsu 035-0021, Aomori Prefecture
Website: Osorezan (in Japanese)
2. Mount Osore
Mount Osore - the gateway to hell: http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/shimokita-peninsula-mt-osore/Posted by Zooming Japan on Wednesday, 6 March 2013
One of Japan’s most sacred place, the name Osorezan is translated as “Fear Mountain”. It is inspired by the volcano’s exceptional landscape. The volcano erupted over 10,000 years ago, but there are many steam and gases emitting which indicate that it might still be an active volcano. It was discovered when En'nin was searching for a sacred mountain resembling the world of Buddha.
Address: 3-2 Tanabu Usoriyama, Mutsu-shi, Aomori-ken
Website: Mount Osore (in Japanese)
3. Bodaiji Temple
Found in 862 AD by En'nin, the Bodaiji Temple is a pilgrimage destination located in Mount Osorezan. It is believed in Japanese mythology to be one of the gates to the underworld. The Bodaiji festival is where people come with attempts to communicate with their departed loved ones through the mediums known as Itako. Traditionally, they were blind women who had to undergo extensive spiritual training and purification rituals before the event.
Address: 3-2 Tanabe Usorisan, Mutsu 035-0021, Aomori Prefecture
Website: Bodaiji Temple
4. Lake Usori
Lake Usori is a crater lake located next to the temple of Mount Osore. Its waters are extremely acidic and only a subspecies of Japanese dace are able to live here. Due to its high sulphuric content, the water tint gives various shades of blue. The shore is covered in white sand, which gives the name of Gokuraku-Hama, Paradise Beach. A good place to relax after visiting the Osorezan area.
Website: Usori-ko (in Japanese)
5. Yagen Valley
Due to its remote location and rugged terrain, Yagen Valley is mostly uninhabited. Despite that there is no direct public transport to the valley, it is a gem upon discovering! Enjoy the valley all to yourself at this quiet, isolated area which offers hiking, rapids, bridges and hot springs. There are two onsens in the valley, the names of which are based on the mythical Japanese animal, the kappa.
Address: Yagen, Ohatamachi, Mutsu 039-4401, Aomori Prefecture
Website: Yagen Valley
6. Kappa no Yu Hot Springs
Located remotely in the Yagen Valley is the Kappa no Yu Hot Springs. The hot spring building is natural and blends in with its surroundings. The bath is not manmade and the clear blue water comes straight from the ground. Due to its difficulty to access, there are usually very little to no crowds compared to other onsens. This gives the feeling that you can have it all to yourself, and it is free to enter!
Kappa no Yu Hot Springs
Address: Mutsu City, Ohata-Machi, Akatakiyama 1-3, 039-4401 Aomori Prefecture
Website: Kappa no Yu (in Japanese)
7. Mutsuwan Ferry
A sightseeing boat which goes to Hokkaido offers a cruise across the Mutsu Bay. Enjoy a scenic view of the bay with rarely visited regions like Hotokegaura and the Shimokita West Coast. The ferry is able to transport motorcycles and if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot some dolphins on the deck from April to July. Enjoy a relaxing and wonderful ride around the Mutsu Bay.
Address: 160 Kanitachushi Miyamoto, Higashi Tsugaru-gun, Sotogahama-machi
Website: Mutsuwan Ferry (in Japanese)
8. Taijima Island
An obscure, but uninhabited island, Taijima Island (Sea bream island) is shaped like a whale and sits off the coast of Mutsu City, Wakinozawa. It is known as the symbol of the city for its unique shape and also can be seen from the Mutsuwan Ferry ride. With a tragic love story and a haunting behind the island of how a woman died while waiting for her lover, Taijima Island is beautifully strange and mystical.
Address: Wakinosawa, Mutsu 039-5331, Aomori Prefecture
Website: Taijima Island (in Japanese)
9. Mt. Kamafuse & Kamafuseyama Observatory
Located on Mt. Kamafuse is the Kamafuseyama Observatory. Facing the coastline of Ominato Bay and the city of Mutsu, it gives an amazing view and a different perspective of the city. In the north, one can see the Tsugaru Strait to the northern island of Hokkaido; in the south, Mt. Hakkoda on a clear day and in the west, a glimpse of Iwaki. Besides this observatory, the mountain turns into a ski hill during winter which offers a couple of chair lifts to the top.
Address: 44, Ominato, Ochikagawa, Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture
Website: Kamafuseyama Observatory
10. Mutsu Science Museum
Located in the northern part of Mutsu City adjacent to Sekine Hama Port is the Mutsu Science Museum. It also serves as a memorial of the nuclear ship Mutsu. The first floor of the main building is a science exhibition. On the second floor is an exhibition of the nuclear ship Mutsu with the actual cockpit and control panel. This family friendly museum with a maritime addition is an enjoyable and engaging experience for all.
Mutsu Science Museum
Address: 693, Sekine Kitasekine, Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture
Website: Mutsu Science Museum (in Japanese)
The axe side of Aomori
The volcanic highlights of Mutsu and its religious symbolism of this area make it more than just mystical, but a beautiful and unforgettable experience. Beyond that, Mutsu has wonderful nature and interesting sights. Enjoy Mutsu, within the “Axe” shaped area of Aomori.
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