When leaving the park through the Otemon gate to the south, the first building found crossing the street is the city’s visitor center. On its front you can find a statue of the charismatic city mascot: a samurai hawk called Takamaru-kun, who wears the city’s castle as his helmet. Visitors can find him in multiple places when walking around town.
Entering the visitors center, your attention is certainly taken by the big Neputa lantern, a characteristic item of the Neputa festival that happens in the summers, one of the four largest festivals in the city. Near it you can also find the kingyo Neputa, the small fish-like lanterns.
On the second floor, we can find an exhibition of local handcrafted items, such as tsugaru-nuri. A lacquerware technique developed during the Edo period of japanese history, at the time Tsugaru-Nuri items were considered a symbol of status and power.
Also on the second floor, we have Kogin zashi displayed, which is an embroidery technique developed by peasants also during the Edo period.
Back to the ground floor, in the souvenir shop you can find multiple products, characteristic not only of Hirosaki but also the Aomori Region.