21 February 2011

Naqua Shirakami Ski Resort

For those of you who want to make the most of the snow by skiing or snowboarding this winter, we recommend Naqua Shirakami Ski Resort in Ajigasawa. With 14 courses to follow served by a gondola and four chairlifts, it is definitely worth a visit. The neighbouring hotel also houses a luxurious onsen with both indoor and outdoor baths, the latter of which allows bathers to look out onto the snowy mountain scenery, if you want relax after conquering the slopes. 
There's no need to worry about gear either; you can rent everything (including clothing) from the foot of the chairlift furthest from the hotel. Although the courses are not entirely suited for beginners, ski schools accommodating all ages are available throughout the week and during the weekend (English instructors available on request). For people who prefer to hit the slopes after work, three "nighter" courses are open until 9pm and accessible by the furthermost chairlift station. 
With brilliant views at the top and tasty ramen at the bottom  of the mountain (with a Mos Burger on hand for fans of western food), make the most of the rest of the winter and give Naqua Shirakami Ski Resort a visit!

The Skinny: For those of us on the Tsugaru side, it's the most convenient ski resort and definitely one of the best places to enjoy the winter season
Location: click here for directions from Jusco
Price: Adult 1-day Lift Pass for ¥4,000 (¥8,000 including equipment & clothing rental fee)

18 February 2011


Looking for dinner and an onsen experience?  Or maybe just dinner?  Lion (Mori no Resutoran Raian/森のレストラン・ライアン) is just the place for you!

I had heard about this restaurant as being good from quite a few Japanese acquaintances, and last night decided to finally try it out.  The restaurant itself is cool on the inside, with wood-paneling on the walls and a hearth in the center of the dining space, which gives the restaurant a winter lodge sort of feel.  The food itself is a good mix of Japanese and Western food, with everything from pasta and hambaagu (a bun-less hamburger usually covered in sauce, also the picture to the right) to different Japanese sets that are updated frequently to include seasonal produce.  I planned on getting the seasonal set (the taste of Tsugaru), but ended up switching to hanbaagu, which was under 1000 yen.  It was delicious!

As the restaurant is part of Chikyuumura (World`s Village・地球村), there is an onsen and camping grounds around the place.  While I did not check out the onsen, it was packed, so it must be a good one.

The Skinny:  Good food with a fun winter-lodge-like atmosphere
Name: Mori no Resutoran Raian (森のレストラン・ライアン)
Hours of Operation: 10:00~21:00
Prices: 800~4000 yen                                 
Phone Number: 0173-26-3007
Address:    青森県つがる市森田町床舞藤山244
                 Aomori-ken, Tsugaru-shi, Morita-machi, Tokomai Fujiyama, 244
Map with Directions from Jusco/Aeon Mall: <click here>

14 February 2011

Oban Ramen Shop (Restaurant Review)

To continue with the theme of ramen shop reviews, today I had the chance to go to another!  I was told that this was one of go-to shops in Tsugaru.  I thought it had good soy sauce (shouyu) ramen.  Ask for the shouyu ramen (soy sauce ramen) or the tamago ramen (egg ramen).

The Skinny:  Hole-in-the-wall, good ramen
Name: Oban (大番)
Hours of Operation: 11:00~
English menu: No 
Prices: 600~900 yen                                                                  
Phone Number: 0173-42-2345
Address:    青森県 つがる市木造若竹6-1
                 Aomori-ken, Tsugaru-shi, Mokuzou Jaku Take 6-1
Map with Directions from Jusco/Aeon Mall:<click here>

08 February 2011

Hakkoda Mountain Snow Trekking!

Looking to do a mixture of walking, sliding, and snowy mountain viewing?  If so, going snow trekking on Mt. Hakkoda is the thing for you!

Activity 1: Snow Shoe Hiking (Hiking around near the peak of Hakkoda)

Dates: Now through May 15th
   Morning time: 10:00 - 11:00
   Afternoon time: 13:00 - 14:00

Price: 1000 Yen (Includes snow shoe rental, but does not include cost to use the ropeway or renting winter clothing).

Meeting place:  Meet at the Sanchoukouen Eki (山頂公園駅), or the station at the top of the Hakkoda Ropeway.  To get to the ropeway, click on this link.

Please sign up at least three days in advance by fax or phone
TEL 017-738-0343 FAX 017-738-5061

Activity 2: Snow Trekking (Guided by a mountain expert)

Dates: Now through the end of May
   Meeting time: 11:30
   Trekking time: 12:30 - 15:30

Price: 4000 Yen (Separate price for the ropeway)
        2000 Yen for rental (Equipment, winter clothing, gloves ...)

Meeting place:  Meet at Hakkoda Park (八甲田パーク(株)), which is at the foot of Mount Hakkoda.  For a directions from Jusco in Tsugaru (Kashiwa), click here.

Please sign up with at least two people a week ahead of the date you plan to go
TEL 017-738-8591 FAX 017-742-1596

03 February 2011

More Winter Festivals!

Want more fun in the snow this winter in Aomori? Then here are a few more events for you! Aomori Prefecture is said to have one of the highest snowfalls in all of Japan, so it's no surprise that residents know the best ways to celebrate during the cold winters.

The 33rd Aomori City Winter Festival
First held over thirty years ago, this festival has become a winter tradition, complete with a huge snow slide, a chance to make your own ice cream and rice cakes, a petting zoo and horse-riding area among its attractions.

When? 12th & 13th February 2011, 9.00 - 16.00
Where? Gappo Park, to the east of Aomori City 合浦公園、青森市 (click here for a map from Jusco in Tsugaru)
Contact: 017-741-6634 
Parking is available at the park for ¥500 per day, and opens at 8.30.
Photos from last year's event can be found here.

Sannai-Maruyama Jomon Winter Festival
Enjoy building snowmen among the famous Jomon ruins, and don't forget to bring your sled for the snow slide!

When? 19th & 20th February 2011
Where? At the Sannai-Maruyama Jomon Archeological Site 三内丸山縄文遺跡 (click here for the English website)
(click here for directions from Jusco)
Entry? Free, though there are some events that require an entry fee

02 February 2011


Tsukemono (Pickles) and Thick Miso Ramen (Koku Miso Ramen)
Takeya is the best ramen that I have had so far in Tsugaru.  While I have heard rumors of a better place, this is a must-go for anyone living near Tsugaru or Goshogawara.  And, located 5 minutes from Aeon mall, it has a great, easy-to-get-to location.

Takeya prides itself especially on its miso ramen, and I definitely recommend it, too.  My favorite is the thick miso ramen (koku miso ramen/濃く味噌ラーメン).  If you want more meat (pork), get the "extra meat" thick miso ramen (chaashuu koku miso ramen/(チャーシュー濃く味噌ラーメン).

Unfortunately, there isn't an English menu, so write down what you want ahead of time.

Also, at the restaurant, you have to get your own water and tsukemono (pickled vegetables), so look for the water machine on the counter near the register.

The Skinny:  Great miso ramen!
Name: Takeya (たけ屋)
Hours of Operation: 11:00 - 20:00 (Closed on Wednesdays)
Prices: Average Price of about 1000 yen.
English menu: No                                                                              
Phone Number: 0173-34-8018
Address:   青森県五所川原市小曲沼田6-13
                 Aomori-ken, Goshogawara-shi, Shoukyoku Numada 6-13
Map with Directions from Jusco/Aeon Mall: