Archive for the Towada-city Category

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)

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 :)

Lake Towada Winter Festival

Posted in 1, Towada-city with tags , , on March 14, 2010 by Yuko

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It snowed like crazy AGAIN in Aomori this week! It reminded me of the festival I went the other day. Using the bus to get to Towada from Aomori-city was the first time for me, and I could find some information which can be helpful for English-speaking tourists.

First, head to JR Aomori station and find the bus stop #8.

You are getting on the bus Mizuumi(Time Schedule in English), which is running two times a day.

  

 JR bus is partly painted in blue, and has a swallow picture on it.

I didn’t know Japan Rail Pass holders can get on the all JR buses for free….very reasonable.  It cost me 3,000yen to buy a one-way bus ticket.(2-day-pass is 4600yen) .  Bus Mizuumi stopped at Mt. Hakkoda RopewayStation, and I saw some foreign tourists getting off at that station to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. 

You hear the announcement both in Japanese and English, which is kinda rare for local buses in Aomori.

Before arriving at Lake Towada, you will drive along the famous scenery spot called Oirase Gorge, the stream issues from the lake and scattered many waterfalls around the area.   Oirase Gorge draw many visitors in early summer and fall, but you can appreciate the solemn beauty of frozen waterfalls in winter.   The driver kindly stopped at some beautiful points to let the passengers enjoy the view and to be able to take pictures from the window.  

 

 It took about 3 hours to get to Lake Towada.  The sunset was also beautiful.

Right after getting off the bus, I saw the first snow statue in Towada.  But I felt a slight shock to see it.

Thomas?    You look somehow……different.

I don’t know what happened to him.   Maybe coming all the way from England made him emaciated….poor Thomas.

Anyways, the festival was from 7:00pm, and the shuttle bus of the hotel I stayed drove me to the entrance of the festival.

 Entrance

  Snow Walls

 Igloo Sake Bar

In the Igloo Sake Bar, you can enjoy drinking sake in kotatsu (a heated table with a thick blanket cover). Kotatsu represents warmth, happiness and comfortableness in winter for Japanese, and once you sit in, it gets so hard to get out.  So I thought this was kinda fun, but to be honest, I had an uneasy feeling because I had never sit in kotatsu with putting my shoes on in my life…..

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Sumo & Art in Towada City

Posted in Towada-city with tags , , , on November 30, 2009 by Zack

My friend recently had some of his works exhibited at the Towada Art Center (http://www.artstowada.com/) for a temporary exhibit about the world of Sumo. Sumo is the national sport of Japan, but it is even more a big deal in Aomori since many talented wrestlers have come from here.

The Towada Art Center is located in Towada City, and it really is an “art center” instead of a museum. I think the creators of the center were aiming for something that doesn’t sit static in the town, but actually interacts and energizes the entire community. I found this out firsthand during my visit when I got to not only see the art, but meet and talk with the friendly local people. In fact, Towada City is aiming to become a city that vigorously promotes the arts. The art center is still in its infancy, having opened in the spring of 2008. A gigantic red ant, a house that looks like it was made out of marshmallows, and a gigantic flower horse are just a sample of some of the permanent installations on the grounds. I could fill an entire blog just about the permanent collection, but today I want to talk about SUMOAURA, the exhibit I went to see.

 

SUMOAURA

In the Sumo world, handprints are the way wrestlers give autographs.

Unfortunately photography wasn’t permitted inside the galleries, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to show or tell about.

 

"Flower Horse" by Jeonghwa Choi

This is the gigantic flower horse located at the entrance of the center. It has come to be a symbol of the center and a beloved resident of the city. Towada City in fact is famous for its history of being a prime horse raising area for samurai since feudal times. Anyway, what’s unique is that during the SUMOAURA exhibit, the whole town was involved in the “MAWASHI” Project. If you have ever seen Sumo, then you’ve no doubt seen “mawashi” as these are the only garments the Sumo wrestlers wear when it’s time to compete. As part of the project, various objects all around town were decorated with these symbols of manhood and Sumo spirit. Each of these objects is also given a suiting Sumo name, here “Flower Horse” is rendered into old fashioned Japanese.

 

Even the mannequin at the local boutique got in on the "MAWASHI" Project. This lovely lady's Sumo name is "Hara-Nishiki" which means something like "Brocade Gut" perhaps due to her satin stomach.

After I toured the galleries, I was wondering if I should go home or stick around. The docent at the gallery told me that this was only half of the whole thing, and that I should check out the rest of what was happening around town. In order to do this, they started a stamp collection scavenger hunt, in which visitors are given a sheet of paper to tour the downtown shops surrounding the center. I’ll admit I wasn’t too gung-ho from the start, but that all changed when I saw this:

 

This is a Sumo wrestler nebuta, or traditional festival craft from Aomori carefully made out of Japanese paper on a bamboo frame.

Close-up of the Sumo Nebuta.

The Sumo Nebuta was lit-up in the upstairs storage space of the local women’s fashion boutique. The shopkeeper was very friendly and kind encouraging us to go up and see it. I was really impressed with the use of color, it reminded me of a famous print-making artist from Aomori, Shiko Munakata. Speaking of Shiko Munakata…

 

Shutter Art- Shiko Munakata Style

I found this beauty while walking the main street downtown. The shop was closed as it was a Sunday afternoon, but the design is an imitation of some of Shiko Munakata’s works. Towada was becoming more and more of a creative artistic city by the moment.

 

Cardboard Sumo Tournament

Even in the park (where they also have the town Sumo ring naturally!) there were things going on! I was lucky to catch the Cardboard Sumo Tournament. Children created and designed their own unique Sumo wrestlers out of cardboard and made them wrestle by fiercely slapping the base of the Sumo ring. The whole town was going Sumo!

I continued to gather stamps while peering in every shop window looking for more “mawashi” creations. One shop was a general store and the stamp was the bottom of the elderly owner’s cane who smiled as he stamped my paper. This stamp was the top of a nail polish container in the local beauty parlor. The woman running the shop was so nice that it made me want to get my nails done, but I didn’t because I am a guy.

 

Yep, there were even motorcycles Sumo'ed up in "mawashi"

I finally managed to collect all but one stamp. Only one shop was closed as it was late Sunday afternoon when I went. One shopkeeper even opened up her whole shop to show me around even though she was closed. We had a great conversation about how the power of the arts is bringing their community even closer together and bringing Towada City closer with the outside world. I agreed.

My stamp scavenger hunt complete, I went back to the art center to claim my prize, a cool SUMOAURA pin. The pin was a great way to end a fun day filled with experiencing the arts. I guess however, that my biggest prize had to be the all the great smiles I got in Towada.