|     日本語(Japan) |

There is a special Cha-Gayu (rice porridge cooked in tea) made with the tea called Kusa-Cha (grass tea) among the local dishes of Noheji town in Aomori prefecture. Noheji is a small town located at the base of the Shimokita peninsula, a part of the Gulf of Mutsu. It is well known as one of the heaviest snowfall areas in the prefecture. ‘Matsuura Shokudo’ (Matsuura casual dining restaurant), in front of the station, is a precious eatery because they serve this special Cha-Gayu. It is “a hundred-year-old restaurant” established in Meiji period (1868-1912) .
Cha-Gayu Teishoku (a set menu of rice porridge cooked in tea) is served on a four-legged tray together with many other local side dishes. Plenty of Cha-Gayu, as a main course, is served in an earthenware pot. Tea is naturally slightly sweet and with a hint of Dashi (soup stock) adds a savoury smell of roasting. Mrs. Ritsu Matsuura, the proprietress, is in charge of serving. She is almost 80 years old but the way she moves is unbelievably energetic and her skin is supple, and her voice is lively.
“Miso-kai-yaki (Grilled shellfish with Miso) served on a shell is also a typical local dish. These scallops are delicious also for Sashimi including the mantle part.” To a dish of pickled chrysanthemum flowers in vinegar, walnuts and peanuts are added which make its flavour even richer. Isobeage (*1) of Tofu is a dish normally made for the occasion of Buddhist ceremony in the area. Every simple and rustic taste is astonishingly good. This is the taste that she has been making ever since she took it over. “I came here to be married to a man living in Noheji. My mother in law taught me how to cook,” says Mrs. Ritsu Matsuura.
In ‘Matsuura Shokudo’ she continues serving local dishes which have gradually become obsolete, such as Keiran, Mochi (rice cake made from glutinous rice pounded into paste) with sweet bean paste inside, served in hot Dashi soup made from fish and kelp.

Cha-Gayu Teishoku (a set menu of rice porridge with tea) 1,500 Yen.
The tea used for the Cha-Gayu is special, called Kusa-cha (grass tea), which is Chamaecrista nomame, the plant in the legume family. It used to grow naturally but now it is cultivated especially for making Cha-Gayu. All their dishes are made only from vegetables and beans, apart from scallops. This is a healthy, rustic set menu created with the wisdom passed down from the ancestors.

◎Matsuura Shokudo
39-7 Kami-konakano, Noheji-machi, Kamikita-gun, Aomori (Map)
☎ 0175-64-3004
11:00 ~19:00 Closed on Sundays
One-minute walk from JR Noheji Station

Isobeage (*1)
Deep fried food flavoured with green laver in batter or rapped up with a sheet of Nori seaweed.

In front of Mutsu-Minato station of JR Hachinohe Line, there holds a market every morning. The municipal fishermen’s market for general consumers plays a central role in the market but there are more than 200 stalls in total. The morning comes early for intermediate wholesalers and retail dealers, and the market is very active before dawn. A pleasure of normal shoppers is a breakfast in the market. Any kinds of packed dishes as Sashimi of fish just cleaned and filleted, fish grilled over charcoal, and homemade pickles are available for only several hundreds Yen.
If you purchase a bowl of freshly steamed rice and a cup of Miso soup in ‘Asameshi-dokoro Gyosai’, located at the rear part of the market, you can make your own breakfast course. Isn’t it luxurious? Anything normal for the local people, mentioned as “It is not a big deal at all,” is the very thing that makes our mouth water. What stays in our mind for long is the local tastes which have been rooted in the region for many years.

In Fishermen's and Farmers’ market, you will find not only stalls where fresh and processed seafood are sold but also ones where ready-to-eat homemade side dishes, pickles, and local sweets are sold. You can try asking for free tasting and discounts which are open to negotiation. This must be another pleasure of shopping in the market. . Vigorous calls, such as “Sweet deals!” or “Have a try!” are heard everywhere in the market. Every call stops us.

◎Mutsu-Minato Ekimae Asa-ichi (Map)
☎ 0178-33-7242
3:00-12:00  Closed on Sundays, the second Saturday, the end and the beginning of a year
In front of JR Mutsu-Minato Station

In Nanbu-cho located in the boundary between Iwate and Aomori prefectures, there still remains a town-managed wholesale market which has its origin in farmers’ market in Taisho period (1912-1926). Apples are placed in wooden boxes in the way they used to be in the past. Auctions are conducted by town officials. This market plays an important role to protect and convey the richness of the food culture of Aomori dealing many local varieties which are not distributed in other markets, such as Nanbu-futo-negi (thick leeks of Nanbu area) and long carrots.

The only one market directed by the town in Japan. Dealing many local varieties such as garlic whose production is the largest in Japan (Fukuchi white six-clove), Gankumijika (type of yam), Abokyu (edible chrysanthemum flowers) and many others.

◎Nanbu-cho town-managed wholesale market
1-11 Aza-Nakaikamae, Oomukai, Nanbu-cho, Sannohe-gun, Aomori (Map)
☎ 0179-22-0011

The quantity of squids unloaded in Hachinohe is the largest in Japan, but the area is also famous for mackerels. ‘Hachinohe-maeoki Saba’ (Hachinohe off-coast mackerels) caught in the off-shore of Hachinohe are getting the fame outside Aomori prefecture for their juicy and fatty meat. People in Hachinohe will never lack for anything when it comes to fresh seafood. They also have Uni (sea urchins), Hoya (sea squirts), Hotate (scallops), and Awabi (abalones). Near the coast of Tanesashi, there are some restaurants as ‘Kofunato’ where sumptuous Ramen with seafood, called Iso-Ramen, literally meaning ‘Inshore noodle’, whose soup is full of rich flavour of seafood even though it is simply seasoned only with salt. The deliciousness of the soup seems to slowly soak into our body.

The deliciousness of the soup seems to slowly soak into our body.

◎Kaiseki-ryouri-dokoro Kofunato
10 Kofunadotai, Same-machi, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori (Map
☎ 0178-33-3824
11:00~15:00 17:00~20:00 Closed on Mondays (closed on following Tuesday if Monday falls on national holiday)
About 5 minutes by One-coin bus heading for Tanesashi from JR Same Station

The enjoyable activity in Hachinohe is visiting the morning market at Mutsu-Minato, whereas exploring Yoko-cho backstreets at night. There are eight backstreets called Yoko-cho in the busy district about 15-minute walk from the JR station of Hon-Hachinohe, where many people visit every night. The expansion of backstreets started with several stalls where general merchandises and food were sold for the people who came back from the World War II in the late 1940’s. After that, more and more restaurants had been built around movie theatres and amusement facilities for an American occupation army until the present town was formed.
A red lantern illuminates a Noren shop curtain whose coloured fabric faded out by the passage of time. Old, almost rotten adjoining buildings support each other so as not to fall down. An entertainment district resembling a film set is crowded with not only the old generation longing for their good old days but also with businessmen and local young people. This district is indeed still active and brisk.

Kita-Nihon Motsu-Nabe Zosen (Motsu-Nabe (*2) Zosen of North Japan) of ‘DA-Suke’ on Hamonica Yoko-cho backstreet. 500 Yen per person. Instead of rice, Nanbu-Senbei is used for Zosui (*3) cooked in the leftover soup from Motsu-Nabe. Vegetables are heaped in the soy sauce based soup seasoned with garlic.

DA-Suke’ has a floor space of less than 10 square meters with only a single counter table. It looks like a barrack with bare zinc plate walls decorated with gadgets and classic movie posters of the owner’s taste. The specialty is ‘Horumon (pig innards) Gappari Grill’ cooked on a Mongolian barbecue pan.

In Hamonika-yokocho11-2 Iwaizumi-cho, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori (Map
☎ 0178-73-1314
18:00~24:00 losed irregularly
20-minute walk from JR Hon-Hachinohe Station

Motsu-Nabe (*2)
A type of hot pots whose main ingredients are cow intestine and vegetables
Zosui (*3)
Rice soup made with pre-cooked rice and Dashi broth and other condiments.Left over soup from Nabe (hot pot) is also used for making Zosui.

The ‘must’ menu on Yoko-cho backstreets is nothing but fresh seafood. You may notice how much local people cling to the freshness if you see the writing in the menu as “PM Squids”, which means the squids caught in the very afternoon of the day. In the mackerel-specialty restaurant, ‘Saba-no-eki’ , literally meaning ‘Station of Mackerels’, which made great contribution to the current fame of ‘Hachinohe off-coast mackerels’, you will be able to eat as many kinds of mackerel dishes as possible, from Sashimi to spit-roasting or mackerel burgers. There are various kinds of Hachinohe’s ‘soul food’ as Senbei-Jiru made with Nanbu-Senbei crackers and Senbei pizzas. It is enjoyable to visit all restaurants comparing the specialties of each restaurant.

A Spit-roasted Silver Mackerel 450 Yen (per spit). A mackerel sized 700 grams (1.5 lb) is only for five spits due to the owner’s intention to make all the spits equivalent. The meat is light and fluffy with its naturally sweet and delicious oil oozing out from the meat on your bite.

◎Saba no Eki
Omatsu Building Ground floor12 Muika-machi, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori (Map
☎ 0178-24-3839
17:00~24:00(last order at 23:30) Closed on Sundays
20-minute walk from JR Hon-Hachinohe Station

Normally for Senbei-Jiru, the Senbei crackers baked especially for the soup are used, which were invented by Mr. Seigo Zaike, the owner of ‘Zaike Shinko-do’ established in 1915. He bakes two different kinds of Senbei crackers for the soup depending on the cooking time. It must be the strenuous efforts of the older generations aiming to ‘make the good quality food with less effort’ that enables the younger generations to serve Senbei-Jiru as ‘local specialty’ in their restaurants on Yoko-cho backstreets. With deep thought and love of people, the simple traditional taste continues to be attractive, still today.

Mr.Zaike who bakes Nanbu-Senbei crackers in the traditional way, using only wheat flour, water, and salt without baking soda or eggs, which more and more manufacturers have come to use today. The salt he uses is natural sea salt of Izu Oshima.

Nanbu-Senbei (*4) for soup. 315 Yen per piece. There are two types with ‘for 3-minute-cooking’ and ‘for 1-minute cooking’.

◎Zaike Shinko-do
1-8-4 Shinminato, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori (Map
☎ 0178-32-1507
9:00~18:00 Closed on Sundays and national holidays
15-minute walk from JR Mutsu-Minato Station

Nanbu-Senbei (*4)
A type of cracker made from wheat flour originated in Nanbu area of Aomori Prefecture.

Shimokita Peninsula is located in the north-easterly part of Aomori prefecture. It is the northernmost part of Honshu, the main island. From Omazaki cape the view of Hokkaido such as Mt. Hokodate can be seen. The tunas unloaded at the port of Oma are well known as the best of Kuro-Maguro (Pacific bluefin tuna) in greater coastal area of Japan. Kazamaura village, located in the west of Oma town, is, on the other hand, one of the best places for Anko (anglerfish). In the area, there is the Shimofuro hot spring resort which has a history dating back more than 500 years. An inn up in the mountain is popular with its view, looking down at Tsugaru-Kaikyo strait where fishing lights are waving, known as the inn of fishing lights. Mountains lie a few meters away from the ocean. In Osore-zan mountain range included Mt. Kamafuse, a virgin forest of Buna, Japanese beech (fagus crenata) and Hiba, Japanese cypress (chamaecyparis obtuse) stretch out.

In ‘Miura-ya’ , various types of menu courses on Anko (anglerfish) are served in winter (from the end of December to the end of April). In the full-course meals, you can taste various dishes as ‘Tomo-ae’, a local dish of the meat and the skin of anglerfish mixed and dressed with liver of anglerfish and Miso (fermented soybean paste), Sushi to go with liver dissolved Pon-zu, a citrus-based soy sauce, and savoury Sashimi with extremely delicate taste.

It is said that a great novelist, Yasushi Inoue, also loved the Shimofuro hot spring resort. One of the Japanese style inns, Ryokan, ‘Miura-ya’, offers a great view of Tsugaru-Kaikyo strait from the windows of their guestrooms. The spa water is sulphur spring, smooth and gentle to skin. Bathrooms are installed in every guestroom , in addition to an open-air bath outside.

◎Isaribi no Yado, Miura-ya
70 Shimofuno, Kazamaura-mura, Shimokita-gun, Aomori (Map
☎ 175-36-2311
with a full-course dinner and breakfast per night 16,950 Yen~
50 minutes by car from JR Shimokita Station

It was twenty years ago when Mt.Yotaro Muraguchi established a specialty store of Aomori Hiba, ‘Waido-no-ki (Trees of Waido)’ . He used to be a hog farmer. “Sawdust of Hiba enabled me to keep the pigsty and the pigs very clean. The pigs were especially healthy. That’s why I’ve come to have a desire to use Hiba for myself!” talks Mr. Muraguchi with his clear and loud voice with his big smile. ‘Waido’ is a dialect of Shimokita area meaning ‘we’.
Shimokita peninsula is deemed as one of the three most beautiful forests in Japan and one of the biggest suppliers of Aomori Hiba. There, Mr. Muraguchi deals everything made out of Hiba, from chopsticks to houses. In the shop next to his studio, he sells various bowls, utensils and furniture. There is a house made of Hiba in the garden, where people can stay for a trial experience of living in a Hiba house. This house was built more than ten years ago, but we were surprised at its beauty. The advantages of Hiba are the dehumidification ability, sterilizing and insecticide effects, above which people can feel the refreshing fragrance of Hiba with their own nose. Through the trial experience guided by people like Mr. Muraguchi who love Hiba and live with Hiba forests reminds us of a home stay program in the countryside.

A cutting board of Aomori Hiba (small) from 1500 Yen. A wide range of sizes is available. As Hiba is effective for sterilizing, washing with water is enough to make it clean and it dries quickly. If the surface gets damaged, you can ask for the maintenance.

Aomori Hiba is used on building Hiromae Castle and Konjiki-do Hall (Golden Hall) of Chuson-ji Temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate prefecture in the past. Mr. Muraguchi gives high priority to the development of new products made out of wood-waste and sawdust. Most of his products are available on the internet.

6-7 Ikokuma-ookawame, Kazamaura-mura, Shimokita-gun, Aomori (Map
☎ 0175-35-2147
9:00 ~17:00 Closed irregularly

In Yokohama-machi, situated at the base of the peninsula, yellow canola flowers are full bloom all over in the town in spring.  A group of citizens called ‘Nanohana (Canola-Flower) Trust’ has been active for 13 years, planting canola flowers in the land lied fallow in order to ‘keep the traditional Japanese scenery of the countryside’. The harvested canola seeds get compressed for oil without being roasted. “Because we could not afford a roasting machine,” said Mrs. Keiko Miya, the director of Trust. Sun-drying instead of machine roasting, natural filtering without using an oil extractor, they create ‘Great canola seed oil’ through a traditional method requiring much time and many processes. “We want to make the environment of our hometown which the next coming generation can be proud of.” The gold-coloured oil, reminding us of a canola flower, has a rich nutty taste without any unfavourable flavour. Just like the pureness of the people who make the oil.

Nanohana (Canola Flower) Trust” calls for supporters all over in Japan. Their activity is to send the members the ‘On-Natane-Abura (Great canola seed oil)’ according to the amount of the annual membership fee they pay (single unit 3500 Yen). In the photo ‘On-Natane-Abura (Great canola seed oil)’ (mini bottle) 840 Yen. It has a pure natural taste realized with sun-drying, single compressing, and natural filtering. Oil of the Trust for Tempura (900g) 2,415 Yen. It is also suitable for confectionery making.

Mr. Shigeru Miya and Mrs. Keiko Miya in the canola-flower-coloured uniform.

◎Nanohana Trust
79-12 Hayashinowaki, Yokohama-machi, Kamikita-gun, Aomori (Map
☎ 0175-78-2011

‘15-minute set’, a set menu with one dish and a glass of draft beer for 500 Yen, is a very good aperitif for the people who walk along Yoko-cho backstreets to enjoy themselves in Bar-Hopping (DA-Suke)

Kona-Mon (*5) Gourmet found on the backstreets

You can encounter various kinds of local Kona-Mon foods, apart from Senbei-Jiru, while you stroll along backstreets of Hachinohe. ‘Saba-Kan Senbei Zara’ meaning ‘a canned mackerel on a Nanbu-Senbei cracker plate’ is a dish you can try at ‘DA-Suke’ on Hamonica Yoko-cho backstreet. Fatty and soft meat of mackerel matches a crispy and a savoury smell of Senbei cracker’s slightly baked surface. Fatty, yet its aftertaste is somewhat light. ’15-minute set’, a set menu with one dish and a glass of draft beer for 500 Yen, is a very good aperitif for the people who walk along Yoko-cho backstreets to enjoy themselves in Bar-Hopping.
Kakke, a dish of boiled thin and triangle-shaped pasta made from flour or Soba buckwheat with cooked vegetable, is served at ‘Gome’ on Hachinohe-Showa Street. The name, ‘Kakke’ is said to have derived from the word ‘Kakera’ meaning ‘pieces’. This is said to be a poor men’s dish invented at the time when rice was not available. It is a dish ‘to eat whatever you have in delicious way’ among ordinary folks. In ‘Gome’ it is served with garlic or homemade Miso mixed with leeks. Their original Miso with abundant local grown garlic added is not so spicy but rich in taste. Young people are the main customers for both of these bars. Local tastes have well succeeded in the next generation at these bars, places extended from the daily lives.

In Hamonika-yokocho11-2 Iwaizumi-cho, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori (Map
☎ 0178-73-1314
18:00 ~24:00 losed irregularly
20-minute walk from JR Hon-Hachinohe Station

On Hachinohe-showa Street4-5 Oaza-Nagayoko-cho, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori (Map
☎ 0178-43-5720
17:00 ~24:00 Closed on Mondays
20-minute walk from JR Hon-Hachinohe Station

Kakke, a dish of boiled thin and triangle-shaped pasta made from flour or Soba buckwheat with cooked vegetable, is served at ‘Gome

Kona-Mon (*5)
Casual fast food made from wheat flour or buckwheat flour (Kona means flour and Mon means things).

Recently, chefs who use Black Garlic as Japanese foodstuff are increasing in overseas gastronomy societies.

Remarkable foodstuff made with the passion of Aomorians

Aomori has the highest production of garlic in Japan. The new garlic developed in Aomori is Black Garlic called ‘Genki-kun’ (Mr. Vigorous), which became popular as a health food in Japan. However, in overseas gastronomy societies where new foodstuffs are always searched for, this Black Garlic is grabbing the attention of the cooks as a gourmet foodstuff of Japan. It tastes sweet and sour like prunes, which is brought from the maturation in deep ocean water under the controlled temperature and humidity. “It must go well with duck meat roasted to the perfect medium,” said Guillaume Bracaval, the chef of Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros who visited Aomori with us. “The Black Garlic smells like liquorice. I used it quite often while I was in France but I was so surprised to find that no chefs used it for cooking in Japan.”
Aomori Shamorock is also one of the estimable foodstuffs created in Aomori. It is a new chicken breed hybridized with Yokofu-Shamo (*6) and Yokofu-Plymouth Rock. It took 20 years before this new breed was born in Aomori Prefectural Experiment Station of Animal Husbandry. Mr. Masakazu Murakoshi of ‘Murakoshi Shamorock Park’ is known as the best producer of Shamorock. “The more we use our ingenuity for raising, the better becomes the taste of Shamorock.” He controls thoroughly the rearing environment, the feed, and the drinking water. “The meat is extremely beautiful, springy and resilient.” In fact, the meat of Shamorock has springy palatability and naturally sweet taste.

◎Tenmabayashi Ryutsu Kako
(Tenmabayashi Distribution and Manufacture)
284-11 Morinokami, Shichinohe-machi, Kamikita-gun, Aomori (Map
☎ 0176-68-3861

◎Murakoshi Shamorock
Aza-nakahira, Kuraishi-nakaichi, Gonohe-machi, Sannohe-gun, Aomori (Map
☎ 0178-77-3220

Mr.Murakoshi controls thoroughly the rearing environment, the feed, and the drinking water.

Shamo (*6)
A breed of chicken mainly designated for cockfight