Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I've been everywhere me

I've done a lot of travelling around Aomori recently. A couple of weekends ago we went out to Hirosaki and I saw the castle there. Everyone talks about it round here, and apparently it's a great place to go during sakura season when the cherry blossoms are out, but I found it a bit underwhelming. We did go on a cold, drab Saturday afternoon, but compared to places like Osaka castle it's very small and not very ornate. That night we came back to Aomori and there was a big Halloween party at a place called ONE SHOT HOUSE, which seems to be the default gaijin drinking spot now the weather has turned and we can no longer drink outside at Passage Hiroba. It was originally gonna be a mainly gaijin affair, but when we turned up there were loads of Japanese folk drinking there and we ended up joining together for a party which crossed international boundaries and drinking limits. I dressed up as dracula this year after getting a few compliments since coming to Aomori that I look like a vampire. When I went to visit RAB Aomori Broadcating Corporation that week I managed to blag a professional costume from a woman who works in the wardrobe department.

The next week we had a day off on the Wednesday - it was 文化の日, or Culture Day. We travelled to Towada and went to see the planetarium and the art museum there. We didn't actually go inside the art museum, but they had some nice exhibits on a patch of grass just across the road which you could see for free. On the recommendation of the cleaning lady from the city hall we also tried a local speciality called バラ焼, or barayaki. The dish consists of beef rib meat (bara means rib) and onions which have been marinated in a garlicy sauce. The beef and onion are brought out raw and you cook them yourself on a hot plate. It was pretty nice, and the dish has quite a strong flavour which is uncharacteristic for most Japanese cuisine. We went to eat at a place called 大昌園 which wasn't the nicest or newest looking restaurant, but it came as a recommendation, and is in a pretty central location, and the food tasted great. After that we found a recycle shop where we had quite a chat with the owner and I ended up buying a radio/CD/tape player - something I'd been looking for for a while. The owner liked us so much she gave me a third off the price. Recycle shops are sick.

Then this past weekend we travelled to Kuroishi where we ate an amazing invention called つゆやきそば, or tsuyuyakisoba. It's literally a cross between yakisoba and ramen and tastes just like it sounds. I'm a fan of both, and when you combine them you get a tasty result. You can only eat it in Kuroishi, so make sure you go and try if you get the chance. There's loads of places that sell it. We just stopped at the first shop we saw which said つゆやきそば outside.

On Friday it was Bonfire Night, and we tried to have our own version here in Aomori, but unfortunately it's pretty hard to get all the things you need to celebrate it. Fireworks are only sold here in summer and baking potatoes don't seem to be available at all. We attempted to make some bonfire toffee, but couldn't find ingredients like back home and the toffee never ended up setting. We did manage to make some parkin though, and we'd watched V for Vendetta earlier in the week as well. I'll be better prepared next year.

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