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The Cliffs of Hotokegaura

The craggy white cliffs of Hotokegaura in Aomori
The craggy white cliffs of Hotokegaura in Aomori

Even though I’ve lived here for nearly three full years now, Aomori still manages to surprise me in the best possible ways. There’s always some naturally gorgeous spot to stumble upon for the first time and make me fall in love with Aomori all over again.

See Exhibit A: the cliffs of Hotokegaura (仏ヶ浦), which now reign supreme as my absolute favorite place in Aomori.

Sapphire water, white stone, and verdant trees set the scene.
Sapphire water, white stone, and verdant trees set the scene.

No, really, that water is perfect.
No, really, that water is perfect.

Aomori’s about as rural of a prefecture as you can get in Japan, and Shimokita, the northern peninsula, is its most remote area. Hotokegaura is tucked away in the western side of Aomori’s “axe blade,” and you’d never think that an area whose most prominent feature is its rolling mountains would be home to such a marine gem.

A rock formation on the beach
A rock formation on the beach
Can I build a vacation house here?
Can I build a vacation house here?

Sea urchins aplenty dot the smooth rocks beneath the surface of the crystal clear waters, and the entire area is so gorgeous that you just want to sit there for a while and take it all in. So that’s exactly what I did.

That little pedestal-like rock on the left was the perfect stoop.
That little pedestal-like rock on the left was the perfect stoop.
I really liked it there.
I really liked it there.
I'd hereby like to claim that rock as "my spot."
I’d hereby like to claim that rock as “my spot.”

Hotokegaura’s beauty is largely unaffected by people; it’s unspoiled. Save for a simple stone pier, a tiny shrine, and the steep wooden stairs that provide easy (well…easier) access from the steep surrounding hills down to the beach.

And Intrepid Travel, one of the travel companies that I support, liked the picture that I uploaded to Instagram so much that they posted it to their own feed!

When you think about an example of Japanese natural beauty, the image that usually springs to mind is probably something like this: a wooden red bridge flanked by clouds of cotton candy pink cherry blossoms that leads to a traditional Japanese house that’s all white paper screens and tatami mats. Maybe a shamisen plays in the background and women in beautiful kimono take tiny dainty steps in their wooden sandals. Maybe you can see Mount Fuji rising in the distance.

Are you sure I'm not in Italy?
Are you sure I’m not in Italy?

Hotokegaura’s beauty is not traditionally Japanese. Its white cliffs and sapphire blue waters are the sort that you’d expect to see in some tropically exotic locale. Greece, maybe, or Corsica or Malta. Somewhere that’s known for its constant sun and beaches, not a place that’s buried under snow for five months of the year. It just goes to show, though, that a place’s most famous trait certainly doesn’t have to be its defining one.

Mine forever.

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