Thank You for Visiting Aomori-mori! But…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2012 by Yuko

This blog actually started half for my former job, and remaing half with my love toward Aomori – my hometown where the hidden gems of attraction can be found among foreign tourists, but never been introduced in English accuretely.

As I left Aomori in the spring of 2012 and started the next chapter of my life, it’s not easy to continue writing about Aomori although there are still many more things left I wanted to write about.

I’d like to thank all the subscribers for reading Aomori-mori, and please be advised that this blog won’t be updated any longer.

I won’t close this blog, and hope it will encourage the future foreign tourists visiting Aomori.

Hope to see you somewhere in Japan :)

Yuko

The Cutest Crepes I’ve Ever Seen in Aomori

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2012 by Yuko

I’m so proud of writing this post, since the featured crepes are not yet really known even among Aomori locals!! You will never find this crepe cafe & bar while strolling around the Hirosaki streets. It is located in the building of “Kadare Yokocho”, the food alley in Hirosaki-City.

Entrance of Kadare Yokocho

Various restaurants and bars such as Indian curry, Yakitori and Shochu Spirits share the 1st floor of the building. You can sit anywhere and can order from any restaurants and bars. It can be a nice place for a single traveller to chat with tipsy and friendly locals.

Inside I found 7 restaurants and bars

Shochu (Japanese Spirit) Bar

I was so excited to come to this place. I’m a “galette(a savory crepe, usually made of buckwheat.)” lover and heard this place serves delicious ones. But this time I passed it because I wanted to show you the following “special” dessert crepes.

Featured Cafe & Bar: Pas Normal Cafe

The Cafe & Bar “Pas Normal Cafe” lookes like just an ordinary bar, but is actually the creperie and you can order sweet crepes at night. (Don’t you think this is a good place for girls night out?)

Cozy sofa in the corner of the cafe

 
My colleague ordered Banana, Strawberry & Chocolate crepe and  my order was  Ram & Banana.
 
 
After waiting about 20 minutes, my Ram & Banana was served!
 
 

Ram & Banana Crepe

Looks so delicious!  Wait, I see something on the left of the ring-shaped crepe. What is it???

Let’s turn the plate around to find out what it is! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pandas!

 Hello panda…..s! Wow- 2 pandas are made of just cream and chocolate.

OMG they are so cute!

A Relaxed Panda

 
I think they are the most ephemeral & attractive art works which I will hesitate but definitely be eating up before long!
 
 

Definitely cute! So are you ...hamsters or dogs?

My colleague’s Banana, Strawberry & Chocolate crepe has 3 adorable but unidentified(oops) animals.

Take a close look at this image. Did you notice the footsteps and the heart-shaped Strawberries?

 
The crepes were cute, and undoubtedly delicious!
 

Are you ready to meet your maker?

It was nice meeting you panda, although it was such a short time….

All 13 kinds of sweet crepes have tiny animal toppings

I think this kind of food decoration is very “Japanese”, but you don’t really see it around Tokyo or other areas. So if you ever visit Hirosaki, please don’t miss these cute & yummy crepes!

PS) I liked the floor mats guiding the way to the restroom.

Can't speak Japanese? No worries - at least you can find the restroom with no doubt!

 
Kadare Yokocho
Address: 2-1 Hyakkoku-machi, Hirosaki-City
Access: 5 min from Hirosaki Park on foot
Opening Hours of Pas Normal Cafe: 12-2pm, 5-11pm (Last Order 10:30pm)

Hands-on Kin-ayu fishing experience in the mountain stream of Ajigasawa

Posted in Ajigasawa Town with tags , , , , on August 15, 2011 by Yuko

 Akaishi River in Ajigasawa Town which has its source in Shirakami-sanchi, the world natural heritage site is well known as the “Kin-ayu(Golden Sweetfish)” fishing spot among enthusiastic anglers.

The opening day for Kin-ayu fishing season in Aomori is July 1th every year.

Hands-on Kin-ayu fishing experience in Akaishi River is available on Thursdays or Sundays between July 24th - August 31st.  Three of my colleagues and I had enjoyed the experience last Thursday while our rest of the colleagues in the office were jealous about it (haha).   

Akaishi River

 

 

Fishing tackle can be rent such as nets, belts and….wait, are these wading shoes? Even me, as Japanese, thought the shoes looked very…interesting.

 

No we didn’t rent them from Ninja Turtles (They must live in NYC, at least not in Ajigasawa).  Seriously, these wading shoes with felt soles were nice for safe travel in rocky streams.

 

 

The fishing rods were 6-meter long, and the instructor told us that experts use 9-meter long…wow.

 

Our instructor Mr. Saito did everything for us, putting a live bait on a hook, take the stuck hook off  the rocks, taking off the hook from my catch, preparing BBQ and everything else. The kind fishing instructor is very dependable for beginners like us.   

The scenery reminded me of the movie “A River Runs Through It”.

 Kin-ayu are very territorial, and each fish tries to keep the territory of about 10 to 20 square meters. They attack any other fish that go into their territory. The trick is making use of their nature, and uses other kin-ayu as a bait and let kin-ayu attack the bait. 

The tip of fishing with a live Kin-ayu bait is let the bait swim as natual as possible. Beginngers tend to pull the live bait, and if you can see the nose of your bait above the water like this, it’s no good and sensitive fish will never be deceived.

Holding the long fishing rod still and standing still in the stream for hours all by yourself was like some kind of training or meditation. Fising is never fun while not getting a single bite. I thought about the issues and problems of my life, what I should eat for dinner, why Japanese girls tend to treat foreign guys like stars, and remembered about the 3-year-old American boy who was having difficulty saying “s” sound, and when I asked him to say “SNAKE” he said “NAKE”…cute. When I’ve run out of things to think about, I got a bite!   

FINALLY……my first catch!!! Cowabunga! (Mind you, I’m not Ninja Turtle.) It took me more than 3 hours to experience this exciting moment.  

Freshly caught Kin-ayu BBQ can be enjoyed by the river (you can also take your catch home with you ). Did you know grilled corn with soy sauce taste soooo good?

I said “Itadakimasu”. Itadakimasu is the Japanese set phrase said before eating, showing appreciation for people who cooked food, caught, raised ingredients as well as for foods giving us their lives. Catching fish by yourself and eating in the middle of nature was a great experience to think about the greatness of nature, and you are part of nature.      

On the way back home, we swung by the house of the most famous dog in Aomori - “Wasao” is the movie star dog well known as the “ugly but cute” dog in Ajigasawa Town. 

Hands-on Fishing Experience in Akaishi River

Period and Time : Thursdays or Sundays between July 24 to August 31 / 1pm – 5pm

Fee: 4,000 yen(rental fishing tackle, fishing fee included)

Advanced reservations required 

TEL: 0173-72-2111 (Industry Promotion Dept. Ajigasawa Town Office) *people capable of understanding English may not be available

Make your own glass seal in Fukaura Town

Posted in Fukaura-town with tags , , , on August 8, 2011 by Yuko

Fukaura-Town, located in the southwest area of Aomori is well known with Lake Juniko.  If you are heading for Fukaura Town either by car or train, WeSPA Tsubakiyama would be a convenient place to visit and stay on the way to Lake Juniko. It is the resort facility consists of a gift shop, hot spring, insect exhibition, cable car, cottage accommodation and glass studio which allows you to enjoy your holiday with your family and friends. I am introducing one of the very popular hands-on activities in this facility, making glass seals in this post.

This studio ”HOO” is a rare glass studio in the world, equipped with glass melting furnace using wind electricity.

Can you guess what these colorful glass objects are? They all become seals by engraving the bottom surface. You can pick out your favorite one. I was indecisive and took 10 minutes to decide my seal….

 

 I could finally pick this out… a bird-shaped one! Don’t you think this is already cute enogh as an ornament?

 After tracing the outline of the bottom of the seal on the paper, you can draw whatever you want as far as drawing within the outline.
This is me deeply absorbed in my work and didn’t know my colleague was taking a picture of me.

The instructor scanned my design into the computer, and reversed the design(because it is a seal) and made a sticker with my design. It was so quick and I couldn’t help being impressed with the computer technology which makes everything so easy.

After attaching the sticker at the bottom of your workpiece, you have to cut out the sticker of the area need to be engraved. Since the sticker has a cut along the line of your design, it would not be too difficult even for little kids.

We moved to the another room equipped with the “Sand Blaster”, the device carving glass with fine sands.

You can turn the blast on and off by using a foot pedal. You have to hold the workpiece tight and put it under the sand blasting nozzle. I wondered how the thin sticker could prevent the glass from abrasion. But it was working pretty well.
It took me about 10 minutes to complete engraving.

Ta-dah! “夕子” is my name Yuko in Kanji, with my Chinese zodiac sign “boar” on top.  

 

My colleague made the seal of Ikubee – the mascot of Aomori destination campaign( held between April – July in 2011).

I could see the other visitors’ great works in the seal work collection book. 

 The gallery & shop in the building displays the distinctive art glasses. I loved the glass tumblers putting on bikini panties, but 8,400yen/pc is not quite affordable to me…too bad.

I heard that a family from outside of Aomori stayed in WeSpa Tsubakiyama became a big fan of this place, and started to come back every summer to enjoy making new glass arts in this studio. It will be a good gift or a souvenir to yourself for the memory of your trip to Fukaura Town/Aomori. Of course various hands-on glass activities including glass-blowing and jewels are available.

Why don’t you visit WeSpa Tsubakiyama to make a masterpiece this summer? 

Shirakami Glass Studio “HOO”

226-1 Nabeishi, Henashi, Fukaura-machi
TEL: 0173-75-2261
Hands-on Glass Seal Fee: 2,310 yen / piece
Open Hours:9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Closed: Tsuesdays (November – March) Open 365 days (April – October)  

English Pamphlet of Aomori Nebuta Festival 2011

Posted in Aomori-city with tags , , on August 1, 2011 by Yuko

Aomori Nebuta Festival 2011 will start from tomorrow! For English speaking people this brand-new festival guide just published for foreigners this year will help to enjoy the festival thoroughly.  Schedule, routes and all detailed info are mentioned. Pamphlets in Chinese and Korean are also available. Please go to the major information centers in Aomori City to get them.

Those who are coming to enjoy the festival, hope this helps. Those who are not coming this year, please read and prepare to come next year!

 

 

 

Hibiki, the Hidden Cafe in Towada-City

Posted in Towada-city with tags , , on July 29, 2011 by Yuko

Some of my foreign friends told me it’s not easy to find vegetarian restaurants in Aomori. Yes it’s true for vegetarians, but for pescetarians there are quite a few nice cafes and restaurants including this cafe, “Hibiki” in Towada City.  

Cafe Hibiki is located in a blueberry farm. Since the old Japanese house was remodeled into a cafe with no signboard near the entrance, we first hesitated to go into this building wondering maybe this was not the right building….? 

 I loved the way slippers were beautifully arranged. Please don’t ask what these slippers are for – you occasionally have to put off your shoes when you enter the cafes or restaurants in Japan.    

Tatami Room

Couches are also available

“Farm Basket Lunch” 

 The menu changes every 2 weeks. Vegetable-based dishes with some seafood. They all tasted great!  This cafe is not a vegetarian or microbiotic restaurant technically, but offers healthy dishes cooked with locally-produced ingredients.  I think diet concious people must love this place.   

This Teriyaki Minced Chicken Balls were soooooooo delicious.  They were made by tofu and Okara-konjac(macrobiotic food) and tasted healthy. My co-worker from China, who doesn’t prefer robust  foods said this lunch was the best he’s ever had in Aomori so far.

Curry & Rice with Summer Veggies

Dessert with Black Bean Tea 

We happened to find the signboard when we were about to leave….okay, the hidden cafe’s signboard is also hidden. 

I want to visit this comfortable cafe again when I have plenty of time I can spend for lunch. 

U-pick is available at the organic blueberry farm in July and August.  Why don’t you stop by this cafe for delicious healthy lunch and blueberry U-pick in summer?

Farm Cafe Hibiki

Address:   147-89  Takami, Aisaka, Towada City

Closed:       Wednesday, New Year Holidays, “Bon” summer Holidays

Website:     http://www.nouenhibiki.com/index.html   (Japanese version only)

Cafe Cembalo, a comfortable cafe for foreigners in Hirosaki-City

Posted in Hirosaki-city with tags , , on May 28, 2011 by Yuko

Many foreign tourists visit Hirosaki-City for Hirosaki Park to view the beautiful cherry blossom and the castle. I often get asked about the free wi-fi spots and the eateries with English menu from foreigners. I’m introducing a cafe located along the Dotemachi street where foreigners would feel comfortable to try out. 

The name of the cafe is “Cafe and Gallery Cembalo”. You can’t find the signboard “Cembalo” in English, but the following image will help you find the building. 

Many food images are hung on the wall. They will help (or tempt) you to know what you can have in this cafe.

I saw some people coming by themselves, so don’t have to hesitate to go alone. 

I like getting the table along the wall :)

Here are the menus…with no English. Don’t worry, all food and drinks have the images and you don’t have to be nervous while waiting for something you ordered you actually didn’t understand…. 

♥ Cake Set ♥ Cheesecake, Chiffon cake, Ice cream and Fuit with Tea or Coffee

♥ Waffle Set ♥ Homemade waffles, Ice cream, Fruit with Tea or Coffee

My iced coffee tasted pretty good.

Pretty interior

Small and cute selling items were displayed on this shelf

 “Free Wi-Fi” is available in this cafe. That’s another reaon I said foreigners(who tend to depend on getting information from internet) would feel comfortable in this cafe. 

There are also many other cozy cafe, nice restaurants and shops along the Dotemachi street. Please enjoy strollong around the street and find yourown favorite place :)

 

Cafe Cembalo

Address:                     41 Dotemachi, Hirosaki-City

Closed:                        Wednesday (open when Wednesday is a national holiday)

Opening Hours :      10:30am - 19:00(sometimes close earlier)  

Parking:                       Paid Parking available nearby the cafe

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