The Shimokita Hantō protrudes into the ocean northeast of Aomori like a great axe-head. Its jagged blade is covered with low, forested peaks, of which the most notorious is Osore-zan, the “terrible mountain” where spirits of the dead are believed to linger on their way to a Buddhist paradise. Despite its growing commercialization, Osore-zan’s bleak crater lake, surrounded by a sulphurous desert where pathetic statues huddle against the bitter winds, is a compelling, slightly spine-tingling place.