Road Trip on Aoimori Railway (Part 1)

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Spring in Japan
ep8: Road Trip on Aoimori Railway (Part 1)

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Road Trip on Aoimori Railway (Part 1)

This week, we travel on the Aoimori Railway Line in Aomori Prefecture. The local train line offers breathtaking views of forests and the deep blue sea. It runs north from the border of Iwate Prefecture, from Metoki Station to Aomori Station. The train passes through 27 stations, covering a total distance of 121.9km. During the two-day journey, we will visit famous spots recommended by the locals.

We start our trip from the town of Sannohe-machi, situated between southern Aomori and Iwate Prefecture. We first take a cute blue train from the unmanned Metoki Station to Sannohe. After a five-minute ride, we arrive at 10.35am. Our next train from here is at 11.45am. We start enquiring about well-known tourist spots. A resident tells us about the Nanbu Municipal Local Wholesale Market, the only market in Japan that is run by a town. It was built at the beginning of the Showa Period and is famous for its vast variety of local fruits and vegetables. 

After walking around the market, we head by train to Tomabechi Station, which is also unmanned. The view of rice fields greets us here and we speak to a lady working in a field. She tells about the Nanbucho Community Park, where the Jakkudo Festival is held in July. The event features dances, live performances and fireworks. In spring, many flowers bloom at the park. One can also see the remnants of the Tomabechi Bridge, a town symbol, which sustained heavy damage in a typhoon in 2011. 

Next, we take the train to Hachinohe Station and transfer trains to go to Shimoda Station. The train arrives at Shimoda at 1.30pm. We want to have lunch and visit a popular spot here but are unable to find suitable places, despite speaking to a few locals. So we decide to return to the station and go to Misawa, where there is an American base. We reach Misawa Station at 2.40pm. 

We ask a local to suggest a place where we could eat lunch. We are told about Akanoren, which specialises in barayaki - beef ribs grilled on a hotplate and seasoned with onions and sauce. It is a bit far from the station but there is a bus which goes there.

We ask another passerby about how to get to the American base. We are advised to take the bus going to the town office and alight at a bus stop called American Plaza in front of the base. The same passerby also recommends that we eat at the Totetsu Station Soba Misawa Branch restaurant. The Towada Tourist Railway was discontinued in 2012 and the eatery is located inside the former train station. It is famous for its quaint Showa-era atmosphere. We order the special soba, its most popular item which features mountain vegetables, green onions, tempura and an egg. 

We decide to check out Akanoren after all, as we also want to ask the customers there about possible lodging places in Misawa. We take a bus to the American Plaza and on the way, we pass by a mall called Sky Plaza Misawa and an international pre-school. The Misawa Air Base is used by Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, the American Air Force and private airline companies. There are English signs for the military personnel who live here. We manage to find an American restaurant bar but the barayaki shop in Misawa, Akanoren, is closed on this particular day. We return to the American Plaza to ask about a place where we could stay in Misawa. Someone suggests Hoshino Resort Aomoriya. We make our way back to Misawa Station by bus, after which a shuttle bus takes us to the inn. It has several types of rooms, one of which is called Aomori Blue and another which has furnishings inspired by Aomori’s famous Nebuta Festival.


Tips:

    •    Check out Japan’s only municipal market in Nanbu for its vast variety of local fruits and vegetables
    •    Try barayaki, a beef rib dish, at Akanoren in the city of Misawa


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