Exploring Shirakami Sanchi and Tsugaru with the Tsugaru Free Pass

Summer is here in Aomori, and everywhere is getting busy preparing for many famous festivals like the Aomori Nebuta, Hirosaki Neputa, Goshogawara Tachi Neputa, and Hachinohe Sansha Taisai.

A lot of visitors to Aomori make great use of the Japan Rail Pass and the JR East Pass, but there is another great way to explore the Tsugaru region of Hirosaki, Goshogawara, and the surrounding locales with the Tsugaru Free Pass.

Tsugaru Free Pass

First thing you should be aware is that there are two different Tsugaru Free Passes, one is for 1500 yen for adults and includes unlimited use of the local JR lines, Konan Bus, Tsugaru Railroad, Konan Railroad, etc. The other version of the pass is the Tsugaru Free Pass Plus Shirakami, which is 3000 yen for 2 days of the same unlimited use with additional shuttle service to the virgin beech forests of the Shirakami Sanchi. Please note that transportation to Aomori City is not included in the area of the Tsugaru Free Pass.

A very popular but slightly remote destination for most travelers without an automobile, the Shirakami Sanchi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to remarkable virgin beech forests untouched since forming 8-10 thousand years ago in the mountains between Aomori and Akita prefectures. The Shirakami Sanchi is beautiful all year round, but the summer offers spectacular hiking and sights for visitors of all ages and experience.

Mount Iwaki is an impressive sight from the Shirakami Sanchi

Humbling encounters with ancient beech trees

Using the Tsugaru Free Pass (Plus Shirakami), in just about one hour you can go from the pristine natural beauty of the forest to..

a delicious dinner of local Tsugaru cuisine in Hirosaki, and if you go at the right time, (August 1-7) you can make it back to Hirosaki just in time to enjoy the Hirosaki Neputa Festival.

If you are looking to explore a bit of Aomori’s pristine natural environment and take in the captivating local festivals this summer, I highly recommend you take advantage of the Tsugaru Free Pass, which can be purchased at almost any JR Ticket Office or travel agent in Aomori, Akita, and Iwate prefectures.

Tsugaru Free Pass Website (Japanese only)

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