Road Trip on Aoimori Line (Part 1)

Japan Hour (Synopsis Only)

Japan Hour - Autumn
Road Trip on Aoimori Line

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Japan Hour (Synopsis Only):

Road Trip on Aoimori Line (Part 1)

Join us as we take a trip along the Aoimori Railway Line to discover best spots recommended by locals. Aoimori Railway took over a part of the JR Tohoku Main Line and started operations in 2002. The line runs through Aomori Prefecture, connecting 27 stations from Metoki to Aomori and covering a total distance of 121.9km.

We start our journey in Sannohe-machi, which is at the prefectural border between Aomori and Iwate. We take our first train of this journey from the unstaffed Metoki Station to Tomabechi, four stations ahead. The train pulls into the unmanned station and our next train from Tomabechi leaves an hour later at noon. After asking some people near the station, we walk for 20 minutes to a health promotion facility called Bade. It has a swimming pool and a hot spring and farm produce is sold next to the hot spring. There are many heated indoor pools of different temperatures and depths here. Bade Park, which also has hotels and outdoor baths, attracts about 30,000 visitors in autumn. We go to the direct sales store, which has many fresh vegetables from local farms. A popular local snack here is called Kobirikko, featuring red bean rice wrapped in a cracker called Nanbu senbei.

We walk back to Tomabechi Station and take the train to Hachinohe, two stops away. We check the train schedule at Hachinohe and have about two hours till we catch the next train. The locals tell us to visit the Hasshoku Centre. It opened in 1980 and has over 60 stores selling things such as seafood and meat. There is also a restaurant at the centre. We take a 10-minute bus ride to the place only to find out that it is closed on this particular day. So we return to Hachinohe Station and get to know that there is a restaurant called Hourin at the hotel next to the station. The restaurant serves fresh seafood from Hachinohe as well as homestyle dishes using local ingredients. We order the Aomori lunch set, which includes salmon roe rice, senbei soup, tuna and squid sashimi, and grilled clam with miso.

After lunch, we take the train to Shimoda, two stations ahead. By the time we reach, it is 2pm and our next train leaves at 3.50pm. We walk around the quiet town and come across a shop which repairs classic Minis and sells cars and car parts. The owner suggests that we visit the “Statue of Liberty”, which is located on the same latitude as the original statue in New York. He is kind enough to drive us to the Shimoda Statue of Liberty Park. The statue here is 20.8m tall and it's supposed to be the tallest “Statue of Liberty” in Japan. It was built in 1990 to revitalise the town. The car shop owner drives us back to Shimoda Station but we get stuck in a traffic jam and miss the 3.50pm train. So we have to catch the next train which departs at 4.40pm.

Our next stop is Misawa, the second station from Shimoda. At Misawa Station, we ask some local residents to recommend a hotel where we can stay the night. They suggest Tensui but it is unable to provide dinner at such short notice. There is a restaurant in front of the station, Kirakutei, but it is closed by this time. After asking around, we are told that there is a restaurant in the city, which is called Fukusui. We need to take a bus to get there but the bus service is over, so we walk for about half an hour to the restaurant. The master of Fukusui is a qualified fish broker who purchases fresh seafood directly from the fish port. We order sea squirt - also known as "sea pineapple" because of its shape - horse mackerel and whelk sashimi. Other dishes we try are Iwagaki oyster from Hachinohe and sea urchin rice. After dinner, we walk back to the Tensui hotel.

Tips:

1) Bade is a leisure facility in Tomabechi which boasts restaurants, hot spring baths and even a shop selling local farm produce
2) A famous attraction in Shimoda is Japan’s tallest “Statue of Liberty”

 

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