This time let’s talk about Shiriyazaki, located in Shimokita peninsula, Aomori prefecture. By mentioning this place, mount Osore-zan (a sacred mountain considered by Japanese people the entrance to the afterlife ) comes to mind. Well, Shiriyazaki is in the eastern part of the peninsula.
What’s special about Shiriyazaki?
Since the freezing wind coming from the Pacific ocean has a strong influence on Shiriyazaki, this place is pretty bleak: there are only a few trees, while grassland and tundra are widely extended. The landscapes you can behold make you feel like you’re not in Japan anymore.The air is cool also during the summer, I could say that it was even cold when we went there, in late July.
Shiriyazaki is famous for the horses called Kandachime: the areas where they graze are bounded by electric fences in order to keep them stay in the ranch they belong to.Of course you can enter these areas with your vehicle, and to make the shutter open you have to pass close to a sensor.
How to reach Shiriyazaki
Getting to Shiriyazaki is not very simple.
First solution (about 6 hours):
From Tōkyō area, by the Tōhoku Shinkansen reach Hachinohe station.Once there take an Aoimori Railways train to Noheji station.Use the Ōminato line to get to Shimokita station. By taxi or by bus (700 yen or so) you can get to Mutsu Bus Terminal and, on the Shiriya line, finally arrive to Shiriyazaki.
The Tōhoku Shinkansen and Ōminato Line are covered by the JR Pass, as well as the Aoimori Railway if you have the Tohoku version of the pass.
Second solution (about 6 hours):
From Haneda airport fly to Misawa airport and get to Misawa station by bus. With the Shiriya line reach Noheji station. The following steps are the same as those written above, in the first solution section.
The time needed to reach Shiriyazaki is more or less the same in both solutions, but traveling by plane is going to be more expensive than traveling by train. Still, you have to learn the bus time schedule well since there are only three buses in a day.
In case you want to explore Shiriziazaki’s surrounding areas, getting around by car is recommended.
When we arrived in Shiriyazaki we could immediately see some kandachime horses: watching them graze with the grassland and the blue ocean on the background has been great. The whole landscape makes you feel out of Japan, you feel like you just arrived to Scotland or some other country in northern Europe. Close to the horses there was a lighthouse. Shiriyazaki is not a tourist destination yet, that’s why there are no shops selling souvenirs.
Also, there aren’t many restaurants around, so my advice is to buy meals in Mutsu city, so we recommend you to spend about three days in Shimokita peninsula, which is actually plenty of things to see, such as the Osorezan Mountain.