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Thursday, April 24, 2014

MUFA Day#17: Aomori

Caught the bullet train to Aomori and made a few final purchases to consume, as my next, and last, leg back to Tokyo in two days will be on Gran Class, and both the food and drinks are included:


This was Sendai's best sake and the teriyakmochi wrapped in seaweed was really tasty.  Lot's of snow capped mountains:


I noticed that toilet paper was amply provided on the train:


In some parts of the world, especially the USA, these would tend to disappear.

A point of information about the Shinkansen.  Special stations were built to accommodate these bullet trains, and they are mostly called shin, or new, as in Shin-Aomori.  Chances are, your train station hotel is not located here.  You will need to catch another train into the city, like Aomori.  Sometimes your Japan Rail Pass works, and sometimes not.  However, purchase a SUICA card to get on subways.


JR worked to Aomori.  JR would not get me from Shin-Osaka to the St. Regis in Osaka.  Tokyo and Kyoto don't have shin stations.

The JAL City Hotel where I'm staying is a ten minute walk from the station and is located nearby Aomori Port:


Aomori means either blue or green forest.  Among the notable bits of info:
  • Settlers in this area date back to 5500 BC.  
  • The colonization of Hokkaido began here in 1872 to ferry people to Hakodate on Hokkaido.  
  • On June 28, 1945, 88% of the city was destroyed by American bombers.  
  • Interestingly enough, Aomori's greatest snowfall that year of 82 inches is higher than Sapporo's 1939 record of 65 inches.  
  • Aomori is the only prefectural capital without a national university.  The best of this region is located in Hirosaki.
  • Baseball pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is from Aomori
  • The population is close to 300,000.
Aomori is particularly noted for its apples, I took this photo:


These Fuji Apples above cost $1.50 each.  However, it is the higher quality luxury version, which could cost as much as $25 each in China, that is prized.  Here is a $10 version to the right.  Aomori provides 90% of all apple exports from Japan.  The Fuji Apple was developed at the Tohoku Research Station (TRS), and is a cross between two American apples:  the Red Delicious and old Virginia Ralis Genet.  It's named for the town of Fujisaki, where TRS is located, not Mount Fuji.  With refrigeration, Fuji Apples can be kept for a full year.

I then went on to acquire my dinner to eat in my room:


I'm having beer, sake, apple cider, a cold noodle (soba--buckwheat) and hot noodle (beef soup).  All this cost $11, but I chose not to drink the sake.  I'll save that for my upcoming hanami.  Too early in Aomori for the Sakura, so tomorrow I'm off to Hirosaki where it is blooming.

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