Archive for Asamushi

Spring comes to Yunoshima

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , on April 7, 2010 by Zack

Lately the snow has melted, and the weather in Aomori has been warming up. It’s hard to keep from wanting to rush outdoors and soak up the sun. Looking for something to do outdoors that would give me a taste of the spring, I heard of an event going on a small uninhabited island called Yunoshima, located in Asamushi, a neighbor in Aomori City famous for its hot springs. From now until April 25, you can take a small boat over to the island and go hiking to see the spring wildflowers that grow there, in particular, a favorite called the katakuri, or the Dogtooth Violet as it is known in English.

Having not eaten a really substantial breakfast, I went to “Pizza House Sharumu”, a well known establishment just a minute walk from the Asamushi Onsen train station, approximately 20 minutes and 4 stations away from Aomori Station. Anyway, it was my first time to eat here, so I had to try their pizza- I decided to go with the scallop pizza, since it was my first time to see scallop pizza, but they had a lot of different varieties of pizza on the menu. I also tried their famous “omuraisu” (a Japanese dish consisting of tomato sauce flavored rice covered in a nice hot gooey omelette. I know it sounds a little unbelievable, but “omuraisu” is one of those Japanese dishes you just have to try to appreciate.

Shrimp Omuraisu

Savory Scallop Pizza

After this delicious lunch, it was time to head to the docks to catch a boat ride to Yunoshima, the small mountain island just about 800 meters from the shore.

Anglers enjoy the great weather with Yunoshima in the background

Boat bringing visitors to the island

After a short 5 minute boat ride we were there on the island. From a distance it looked gray and bare, so I had my doubts about being able to see any signs of spring. However, it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon fresh life poking its head out of the fallen dead leaves.

Bakke flowers of the Fuki plant, a mountain vegetable relished in the spring time

It was very impressing to see the variety and beauty of all these early blooming spring wildflowers as I made my way up the steep sloping trail up to the 132 meter summit of the island. With of course, plenty of breaks to smell and take some pretty good shots of the flowers.

Kikuzaki Ichirinsō (Anemone pseudoaltaica) a harbinger of spring, this woodland wild flower opens graciously in sunlight

Kibana no Amana or Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem

Otome-Engo-Saku, a type of Corydalis

Slope blanketed in fresh spring greenery

Finally, our guest of honor, the elusive katakuri flower, or Dogtooth Violet

The day I visited Yunoshima was at the very beginning of the festival so there were few Dogtooth Violets in bloom on that particular day, but a great deal of buds were just a few days shy of blossoming. One of the volunteer guides on the island told me that it takes approximately 7-8 years for the Dogtooth Violet to grow before it blooms. The Dogtooth Violet is also a treasured plant in Japan since ancient times, gathered for its starch for use in cooking, similar to cornstarch. Today it is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, and is also the most famous of the “spring ephemerals”, flowers which flower the earliest in spring and wither before summer. Satisfied on finally find a blooming Dogtooth Violet, I started my descent down the trail after taking in the scenery from the summit of the mountainous island.

A great view of the azure ocean from the top

Torii gate before the small shrine on the island

Sea urchins, clam, and abalone shells

By the time I had reached the shore and finished taking all my photos it was time to catch the boat back across to Asamushi. I was still pretty full from lunch but there’s always room for ice cream…

So I decided to treat myself to the “cassis” (black currant) ice cream at Yu-Sa, the Michi-no-eki (Road Station) at Asamushi. Aomori is the top producer of not only apples, but also black currants! You can find plenty of black currant jelly and even black currant wine in Aomori City, but I’m a fan of the ice cream.

Anyway, the “festival” at Yunoshima is just starting and will continue for two more weeks so if you have a chance, please check it out!

Yunoshima Dogtooth Violet Festival (Yunoshima Katakuri Matsuri)

April 3-25, 2010

Cost: 1000 Yen for a roundtrip boat ride (Board at the Asamushi Docks)


A BELLYFUL of Seafood Experience in Asamushi, Aomori

Posted in Aomori-city with tags , , , , on October 13, 2009 by Yuko

My friend visited me from Sendai last weekend, and I decided to take her to Asamushi to try out a very famous restaurant. 

Asamushi is a hot spring resort area facing Mutsu-bay, and people enjoy fishing, sunbathing and soaking in the hot spring with a panoramic view of the ocean.

Asamushi is a hot spring resort area 30 minutes from central Aomori.

Asamushi is a hot spring resort area 30 minutes from central Aomori.


You can find a yellow signboard of Tsurukame-ya restaurant along the Route 4.  “Tsuru-kame” is Japanese for crane and turtle, which symbolize longevity and prosperity.

Signboard of the restaurant

Signboard of the restaurant

 When we arrived there,  all tables were full.  Luckily the earlier visitors started to check right after they saw us coming in, and we did not have to wait at all.  Thanks!  
Lunchtime Crowd

Lunchtime Crowd

I ordered a small half and half (prawn and tuna) seafood bowl.  After 10 minutes a waitress served my dish and I was…..astonished!!
Small (supposed to be) rice bowl topped with prawn and tuna

Small (supposed to be) rice bowl topped with prawn and tuna

  I actually doubted the waitress that she mistook my order as regular bowl, but she told me this was a small bowl…..
20 pcs prawn, 10 thick slices of  tuna and “nakaochi” part (middle-fatty tuna flesh adhere to the bones) are piling up on the rice…oh no.
Small rice bowl topped with sea urchin

Small rice bowl topped with sea urchin

My friend ordered a small sea urchin bowl.   Wow… I have never eaten sea urchin this much at a time in my life.  My friend ate them up.
After eating 5 slices of tuna and 8 prawns,  I just couldn’t eat any more.  Gazing blankly at the summit of  Mt. Sashimi,  a phrase crossed my mind.  “I climb Everest because it is there.”     Sorry Mr. George Mallory,  I don’t think I can demolish this world’s highest Sashimi moutain just because it is here….
While struggling with this overwhelming “small” seafood bowl, I felt this was like a LONELY food contest.  (no opponents,  no onlookers,  no praise or prize for your achievement!!)  
My friend was enjoying the lunch

My friend was enjoying the lunch with her family.

Then I happened to see my friend and her family.  I could take the pictures of dishes they ordered.
A small rice bowl topped with prawns

A small rice bowl topped with prawns

Tempura of veggie, squid and fish

Tempura of veggie, squid and fish

A small rice bowl topped with conger eel Tenpura

A small rice bowl topped with conger eel Tempura

 If you are willing to eat in moderation, this restaurant is not for you (needless to say).
The greatest thing about this restaurant is the price. I should say the prices are inexpensive for these extra-large helpings of raw seafood.
Handwriting menu of today's special

Handwriting menu of today's special

 I was wondering what would be the most expensive dish in this restaurant today, and it was “a regular triple bowl”.  I found a young couple ordering it!!
a young couple taking a picture of the most expensive bowl respectively.

A young couple taking a picture of their most expensive bowl respectively.

I asked them to allow me to take the picture of their bowl.  They said they would share this bowl(clever way).  Since I left after taking this picture, I do not know if they could make it to eat up…
"Tri-Color Bowl"is regular rice bowl topped with tuna, prawn and sea urchin

"Tri-Color Bowl"is a regular rice bowl topped with tuna, prawn and sea urchin(3,000 yen)

 After the bellyful of seafood bowl,  we stopped at the popular outside foot bath which is located right in front of the JR Asamushi station.
Free Hotspring Foot Bath

Free Hotspring Foot Bath beside the Asamushi Sta.

 If you bring a small towel, that’s perfect.  Just take off your socks and soak your feet in the warm (sometimes hot!) water.  Everyone looks comfortable sitting here.
Warming your feet with hot spring while feeling gentle breeze on your face....very soothing.

Warming your feet in the hot spring while feeling gentle breeze on your face.... very soothing.

 Asamushi is a very peaceful place and the holiday atmosphere can  relieve my tension.
If you ever go to Tsurukame-ya restaurant,  please be sure to order small bowls, and let me know if you could eat them up!!
An Wooden Object

An Wooden Object

Tsurukame-ya Restaurant
293-14, Hotarudani, Asamushi Aomori-shi 
8:00am – 8:00 pm
Open all year round 
Free parking available 
 5 min walk from JR Asamushi sta.