31 May 2011

Tsugaru-ben Taikai 2011 第15回津軽弁大会

Taikai Poster, click to enlarge and print out!

On 18th June 2011, Tsuruta Town Office will host the 15th annual Tsugaru Dialect Competition, better known as the Tsugaru-ben Taikai. Five groups will perform in a fierce competition for the title of best Tsugaru-ben speaker(s) of the year. The taikai is always hosted by a local celebrity, and this year is no different, with Aomori Television's Yuriko Kudou MCing the event. Foreigners from all over Aomori have been known to perform enka, rakugo and plays, which always have the audience in stitches. It's free to come and watch, so why not stop by and see if you can understand the dialect that leaves even native Japanese speakers baffled!

When? 3-5pm, Saturday 18th June 2011
Where? Tsuruta Town Office (鶴田町役場)
              click here for a map 
How much? FREE!

Tsuta Onsen (蔦温泉)

Tsuta Onsen is located deep in the mountains near Lake Towada, and was ranked best in the prefecture in terms of atmosphere and water quality. The ryokan also serves delicious traditional meals for those staying the night, as well as providing some of the tastiest wakimizu  (water straight from the rocks) in Aomori; so good that you might want to consider taking a bottle or two with you for the road! 
Despite the absence of an outdoor bath, Tsuta Onsen has a great atmosphere with luxurious interiors, and comes highly recommended.

Submitted to us by Jon, thank you!

The Skinny: a luxurious onsen attached to a ryokan of equally high quality
Price: ¥500 for entry to the onsen, a night at the ryokan starts at ¥8,550~
Opening Hours: for those not staying at the ryokan, the onsen is open from 9am to 4pm  

27 May 2011

Dazai Osamu, Tsugaru Jamisen & Horsemeat, Oh My!

Well, it's been a little while since Let's Go Tsugaru's last post, but what better way to update than with some info on an Aomori speciality, baniku (horse meat)! First off, Kanagi's pride and joy, the Shayoukan (斜陽館, a memorial museum for the famous author Osamu Dazai) has started providing tours in English, led by the lovely Yukie Yamagata. Many of Osamu Dazai's works have been translated from their original Japanese, and it's interesting to see the house where he spent his younger years. You can also try your hand at Tsugaru Jamisen at the nearby Tsugaru Jamisen Hall (津軽三味線会館), whilst learning about the instrument's history.

Only a short drive down the road is the highly recommended Ekisha (駅舎) coffee house, which serves baniku curry and donburis (baniku on top of rice). I must admit I was a little hesitant at first, but after tasting both dishes I can highly recommend that you give them a try! Kanagi is less than an hour away from Tsugaru, so it's definitely worth the trip to check out all three of these local attractions.

The Skinny: A great cultural day out in Kanagi Town, Goshogawara
Price: ¥500 for entry to the Shayoukan, ¥900 for entry to both the Shayoukan and Tsugaru Jamisen Museum. A curry set meal at Ekisha will only set you back about ¥680!

Yasuragi Onsen (やすらぎ温泉)

It's no question that the view of Mount Iwaki from any angle is stunning enough, but why not enjoy it whilst relaxing in a rotenburo (露天風呂, outdoor bath)? Yasuragi Onsen is located a short drive off the 7 on the way into Hirosaki from Tsugaru, and although a little dated, its outdoor bath provides amazing views as you relax to the sound of softly playing enka. There is also a small garden area with seating for the summer months when you need to hop out of the hot water.
The indoor baths are also decent, with a sauna and water bath included in the meagre price of 350 yen. You'll need to bring your own onsen kit though, as shampoo and soap are not provided.

The Skinny: A small onsen on the outskirts of Hirosaki with great views of Iwaki-san
Price: ¥350 for adults
Hours: 5am to 10pm