Formed from deep-sea volcanic activity almost 20 million years ago, these striking rock formations graze around 2 km of the western Shimokita Peninsula coastline. Centuries of buffeting from the rough waves of the Tsugaru Straits have gradually eroded the rocks into the dramatic shapes on show today.
In fact, this scenic stretch is so beautiful, it has been designated as a National Natural Monument. As many of the rocks take their names from elements of Buddhism, the rocky formations are collectively known as “Hotokegaura”, meaning “Buddha Inlet”. Long considered a sacred spot to locals, Hotokegaura is also considered a gateway for spirits of the deceased to pass between this world and the next. Every July, a festival is held at the Jizodo Hall, which sees locals gather at beachside to offer prayers to the Buddhist deity, Jizo Bosatsu, as well as the surrounding rock formations.
The majestic rocks are best appreciated from the sea, during one of the sightseeing cruises that departs from Sai Village. Options on offer include 90-minute guided tours that allow visitors to disembark and admire the rocks up- close from the beach. Views from the boat are equally stunning, given the backdrop of emerald sea and verdant forested hillside for the ivory-white rocks.
However, harsh, and snowy winters mean this natural wonder is best visited in warmer months. Venture to the coast of this rugged peninsula between late April and October to witness the pristine wild beauty of northern Japan.
9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., special services may run until 4:30 p.m.
Boats operate from April 25 until the end of October.
112 Osai, Sai-mura, Shimokita, Aomori Prefecture
(Tsugaru Channel Cultural Center “Arusasu”)
Airport: Aomori Airport
Adult (junior-high school students and above): 1,300 yen one-way / 2,500 yen return
Child (elementary-school students): 650 yen one-way / 1,250 yen return
Free for preschool age children.
+81-175-38-2244 (Hotokegaura Ocean Tourism, Co., Ltd.)
80 minutes by car from JR Shimokita Station to Tsugaru Channel Cultural Center “Arusasu”.