Seikan Ferry: Hakkoda-Maru
The Hakkoda-Maru, docked here at Aomori Port, was previously used as a ferryboat for crossing the Strait. The Seikan Ferry began operating in 1908, and at its peak 30 services every day served as a vital link between the 2 islands. In 1998, an undersea tunnel was completed linking Aomori Prefecture and Hokkaido by rail, putting the Seikan Ferry out of service. Many people were sad to see the boats go. The boat has been preserved as a tourist attraction, and anyone is welcome to visit.
Nurtured by the Rough Seas
The town of Matsumae is located at the south end of Hokkaido. There are many women who, over the years, came to Matsumae from Aomori after getting married. The Shirakami district is known for its rough seas. The seaweed buffeted by the rough waves of the Tsugaru Strait has a special fragrance and taste. Only a small volume of the seaweed can be harvested, making it a rare delicacy.
A Mid-Winter Tradition
This is Kikonai in Hokkaido. A traditional local festival in the town has been held for more than 180 years. It is called the Misogi Festival and it takes place at the Samegawa Shrine. 4 young men play a leading role. For 3 days, they undergo a religious rite of water purification at the shrine. The temperature is minus 5 degrees. The men cleanse themselves while praying for a bountiful harvest and a huge catch over the coming year.