Archive for the Aomori-city Category

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!

 

 

 

JR EAST PASS SPECIAL

Posted in Aomori-city, Goshogawara-city, Hachinohe-city, Hirosaki-city, Mutsu-city, Shichinohe-town, Towada-city with tags , , on May 23, 2011 by Yuko

This is my first post since the massive earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan in March 11, 2011. 

Although it’s a part of my job to promote Aomori tourism, honestly I couldn’t really write “Come to Aomori for sightseeing!” while suffering from thousands of tremors in these 2 months. Finally, the earth seems to be calm down and I am glad to resume this blog.

Japan is trying really hard to have our normal lives back. Here is one encouraging example of quick and great restorations! East Japan Railway repaired the seriously damaged facilities and equipment of Tohoku Shinkansen line, and full Shinkansen service between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori has been restored from April 29. 

Now I can introduce this unbelievably reasonable offer for foreign tourists! JR East Pass Special valid until June 30, 2011 allows you to travel throughout East Japan on the JR East Shinkansen trains for 3 days. The price is only 13,000 yen!  FYI, usually I can’t even buy the one way Shinkansen ticket from Shin-Aomori to Tokyo with only 13,000 yen as Japanese….I wish I could be a foreigner until the expiry date of this pass!  Please check the detailed info by clicking the following image.

 

Once you stepped on a ground of Aomori Prefecture, please don’t fail to present your JR East Pass of JR East Pass Special at the designated Tourist Centers to receive nice gifts (for details pls click the following image). Only the first 50 – 500 visitors would be eligible to receive  those gifts. Hope you can make it.

The weather is getting nicer in Aomori, and Japanese tourists start visitng Lake Towada, Lake Juniko and Mt. Hakkoda to  experience lush greenery and fresh air.

I’m currently working at the 8th floor of ASPAM, where you can receive (B)Apple Lanyard at the desk of Aomori Prefecture Tourist Information Center located on the 1st floor of the building. If you ever come to ASPAM, please feel free to visit me :)

Wanna Devour Sushi Bowl at the Fish Market?

Posted in Aomori-city with tags , , , , on February 16, 2011 by Yuko

So now you can come to Aomori-City from Tokyo by direct Shinkansen service!!  I have to tell you that the new JR Shinkansen station, Shin-Aomori station is located in the suburbs of Aomori-City and tourist attractions are still centered around JR Aomori station. February is the worst month for winter weather, and if you are not a enthusiastic skier or snowboarder but happened to visit Aomori in this season, I recommend you to find indoor activities easily accessible from JR Aomori station. BTW do you like Sushi? If so I’d like to introduce a very popular spot for lunch where could be one of the fun places to visit.   

  

Uh, no English signs…but this red signboard and the blue flags will help you to find this building.  It’s only  6-7 minutes walk from JR Aomori station.  This is “Aomori Gyosai Center”, literally Aomori fish & vegetable center.

Let’s get inside…this fish & vegetable market has 3 aisles and consists of 38 shops selling freshly caught fish along with vegetables and cooked dishes. If you are a sushi or sashimi lover, you will find out this place is a dream restaurant as you read this article.

First, find one of the three shops hanging this orange sign where you can buy a bowl of rice (regular: 100 yen / large helping: 150 yen).

 

This is a regular rice bowl with an optional topping of  Shisho(perilla) leave(10 yen). You will occasionally find Shiso leaves in Japanese cuisine as a garnish or for flavoring. Shiso is known with its antibacterial effect and that’s why sashimi is always garnished with Shiso. I simply like the taste of Shiso.

Next, go around all the shops and find this blue flag, which means the shop is selling  bite-sized slices of raw fish, fish roe, scallop and other seafood delicacies.

 Just point at the items you want to buy, and if you can say “Kore kudasai(I will take this)”, that will help to communicate smoothly with the sellers.

 The seller puts what you pointed in your bowl, and you pay by cash right after you buy something.  Basically you can buy 1-3 slices of fish meat with 100-300 yen(depend on the kind and quality), 1 scallop with 100 yen and 1 small container of sea urchin with 200-300 yen.  

 And this is my Sushi Bowl I made for myself ……ta-dah!!!!

My Sushi Bowl cost ONLY 1,100yen.  Unbelievably reasonable!!!  If you eat this in sushi restaurant it will definitely cost 3,000 yen!!

You wanna know their names ?  Okay see below :)

After completing your customized Sushi Bowl, you have to find a place to eat.  Tables and chairs can be found between the shops and at the corner of the building. I couldn’t get my seat at the most comfortable eating area because all the seats were full….wow. 

But I could find the table next to the shop. Chopsticks, soy sauce, wasabi, tea, paper cups are provided on the table.

While I was writing this blog at the office, my co-worker saw the image of my Sushi Bowl which made his mouth water (haha).  As he was eager to go to this market for lunch soon, we actually visited this market today. I know my Sushi Bowl for today is totally different from the last one and not decorative at all, but I wanted to tell you that you can also buy cooked food like crouquette or crab cake for your Sushi bowl.

It cost me only 670yen. Do you think 300 yen for 1 piece of fatty tuna is a bit pricey? No it’s not.  If you eat this at a Sushi bar you will obviously be charged over 1,000yen.   If I didn’t buy the fatty tuna, I could make my sushi bowl even more cheaper.  So it’s up to you how much you want to spend for your Sushi Lunch Bowl.

I said this market is a dream restaurant. The clue is some chefs of high-class sushi restaurants in Aomori purchase ingredients from this market. So we can actually eat great quality Sushi Bowl with a wholesale price!   

One of my co-workers said she wanted to come to this fish market for lunch every week.  

This Make-your-own-Sushi-Bowl is called “Nokkedon” and it is definitly worth a try if you come to Aomori-City.  The market is lively and crowded with Japanese tourists even on weekdays. Sellers in Aomori are very kind and not greedy to the tourists, and I bet you won’t be cheated or ignored just because you don’t understand Japanese.  Come and enjoy Nokkedon!

Aomori Gyosai Center

1-11-16 Furukawa, Aomori-City

Closed: Tuesday

Open Hours: 7 am – 5 pm

Please note credit cards are not accepted in this fish market. *Cash(JPY) Only*

Villa – a delightful French-themed restaurant in Aomori-city

Posted in Aomori-city with tags , , on August 23, 2010 by Yuko

What are the important factors in choosing a restaurant for you? If you like a restaurant serving delicious & beautiful dishes still the price is reasonable and offering a comfortable atmosphere, then you would like “Villa”, the french-themed restaurant in Aomori-city. 

I organized a small pre-wedding party for my friends (both bride and grooms were  my friends) and I picked up Villa.  I don’t know much about wine and always ask for their recommendation. The waitress was very friendly and all wine(rose sparkling, white and red) she recommended were tasteful.

Villa has a seating capacity of  20

Appetizer of the day

Appetizer of the day  (when I came again another day with my friend)

Salad

Homemade Pate(pork and goose liver)

Pizza with Dry Cured Ham

Two Kinds of Pate

Garlic Bread

Forgot the name…(sorry!) Fish and Salad, the yellow topping is botargo.

Dessert(Tres Bien!)

Like many foreign food restaurants in Japan, Villa’s chef is Japanese and probably the taste is a bit acclimatized for Japanese customers.  After enjoying Sushi, Tempura and Sukiyaki in Japan, trying French-themed dishes with “chopsticks”(*they also offer forks and knives- it’s your choice ) can be a good experience in Aomori/Japan.  

Dining Villa

3-4-11  Honcho, Aomori-shi

Opening Hours:  11:30am-2:00(Lunch) 

                                  5:30pm-12:00am(Dinner)

Closed: Sunday

Parking: Paid parking is next door to this restaurant

Tsujii Ramen & Mitsukake – the soul of Aomori

Posted in Aomori-city with tags , , , on July 6, 2010 by Yuko
 

As you might know, Ramen is one of  Japan’s comfort foods with Japanese curry, miso soup and rice ball.  Some people even say they can eat ramen three times a day, or can eat only ramen for the rest of their lives.  I’m not that crazy for Ramen, but would like to introduce one of the most popular Ramen places in Aomori-city. You don’t really see people waiting in line for restaurants in Aomori-city, and I was impressed that Tsujii Ramen had a long line of people waiting outside of the restaurant. 

 

People waiting in line for Tsujii Ramen

  

Of course the seats were full.  We ordered Ramen and Mitsukake, very “classic” way of order I assume that 90% of people should order the same way.   

Lunchtime Crowd

  

This is “Mitsukake”, rice cake with brown sugar syrup, Tsujii’s most popular dessert.   Rice cake is usually served before Ramen, so should  I say it is an…appetizer?   

Mitsukake

  

The rice cake is tender, and if you like the taste of brown sugar you will definitely love Mitsukake!   I thought I should leave some to eat after Ramen, but we just ate it up in 2 minutes and even wanted to have another plate.  

Tender & Yummy Mitsukake

Here is Tsujii Ramen – it features fine and curly noodles and the broth made with dried sardines and soy sauce.  The soup taste a bit salty to me, but people living in northern, colder area tend to prefer the salty and strong taste, and I think that’s why this place is loved by Aomori residents. Toppings are simple. Green onion, sliced pork and seasoned banboo shoots.       

Tsujii Ramen

  

There are 2 Tsujii Ramen restaurants. One is located by the sea and nicknamed “Umi-Tsujii”(literally sea tsujii), and another is located in the outskirt of the town, and called”Yama-Tsujii”(literally mountain Tsujii).  They both have big fans, so if you like this kind of ramen, it’s worth trying the both Tsujii restaurants! 

Tsujii Mochiten 

2-14-23, Gappo, Aomori-shi 

Open: 10:00am – 6:00pm 

Closed: Sunday and national holiday 

Car Parking Available

Finally Aomori’s Own Apple Cider!

Posted in Aomori-city with tags , , on May 10, 2010 by Zack

Aomori’s apples have a reputation for being some of the best tasting, highest quality gourmet apples in the world. Being fortunate to live here, Aomori has given me countless occasions to enjoy apples, whole and raw, baked in desserts, stewed, made into chilled cream soups, candied and just about every culinary creation you can imagine.

But one apple dish that I really missed from home that I thought would do well here was apple cider. The fresh tart taste of apples combined with the unfiltered natural appearance is something which has a universal appeal. Unfortunately, nobody in Japan or Aomori had ever heard of apple cider. In Japanese, the word “saidaa” (cider) generally refers to a light carbonated soda like beverage, so it was rather difficult to explain how delicious it is… until now!

Enter PaSaPa, a volunteer group from the apple producing Namioka area of Aomori City. One of their most active members, a cheery lady with an apple-red smile developed Aomori’s (and Japan’s) first ever apple cider last year. I had the pleasure of meeting her earlier this year at work and got to sample her excellent brew. She told me that she got the idea to start apple cider after hearing that it is a popular autumn and winter beverage in New York from an American visiting her home. I wish I could take the credit, but what’s more important is the result… this amazing apple cider.

PaSaPa has been serving  their delicious apple cider hot and on the rocks at ASPAM, the prefectural tourism building near Aomori Station on select Saturdays and holidays. They are also serving it at Apple Hill, the Michi-no-Eki in Namioka, and one of my favorite ice cream shops and cafes in Aomori, Rashinban.

PaSaPa's Apple Cider has beautiful packaging reminiscent of Munakata Shiko

Hot apple cider comes with cinnamon and cloves if you prefer, and something that I had not seen before in the USA, whipped cream. Adding whipped cream makes it taste like a nice warm apple pie.

This past winter they served hot apple cider in Tokyo’s fashionable Omotesando district where they got a very good response. I’m hoping that Aomori’s own apple cider will catch on all over the prefecture and Japan, so keep your eyes open for it!

Hot Lips

Posted in Aomori-city with tags , , , on April 20, 2010 by Zack

What is Hot Lips you ask?

Hot Lips is the name of the newest culinary addition to Aomori City. This provocative burger joint is located just a few doors down from the Circle K convenience store next to Aomori City Hall, on the intersection of the National Route 4 and Yanagimachi-dori. Pretty impressive sign, right? Wait to you see the decor…

If it wasn’t for the Japanese katakana syllabary in the back there, you wouldn’t know that it’s Japan. Even the small details, from the salt and pepper shakers down to the pepsi glasses are all Americana. The only thing I can think of that would make it complete would be large fluffy paper napkins in a polished metallic napkin holder. The black and white floor reminds me of Twin Peaks, and on the walls hang Route 66 road signs, a poster version of Warhol’s Marilyn Triptych, and even a Where’s Waldo poster in the bathroom, all making it a very poignantly American experience, even if Where’s Waldo is originally from the UK… But anyway, how is the food?

It’s good! I could tell that the burgers weren’t exactly 100% American and were more close to the Japanese ideal taste of burgers, which is generally a juicy and much softer texture and less beefy taste than American burgers. If you have never seen a Japanese person make a hamburger, then you should know that they get pretty serious about their burgers, tenderizing the patties with lightning fast speed so that the warmth from the hands of the cook won’t affect the taste of the meat. Anyway, the burgers here come in affordable sets including a drink and a salad or fries. There aren’t too many places in Japan besides major fast food burger chains that have burger buns, so I was surprised to learn that the brother of the owner runs a bakery in Aomori, and makes all the buns for the shop. Besides burgers the menu also has pancakes, some pasta, sides, and Loco Moco, a Hawaiian favorite of mine that I have yet to try.

They also have a salmon and shrimp burger, which was really good, so you can also bring vegetarians. The prices are pretty reasonable, drinks are well priced and they have a good mix of beer and different popular cocktails in Japan and of course, whiskey. I haven’t had a chance to go yet for lunch but they have lunch combos too that look great. Oh, and they are open really late, from 11 am to 3 am! I’m hoping that late night pancakes and burgers will catch on here like in the States. Anyway, if you get a chance, try Hot Lips, a gem that offers a taste of Japan in a taste of America in Aomori.