- Hachinohe Sake Brewery
- Narumi Sake Brewery
- Rokka Sake Brewery
- Where to buy local sake (Tsujimura Liquor Store)
As you travel through the region, you'll get to taste different types of delicacies, some of which may be new to you. Other dining experiences are more interactive, allowing you to rent a grill and cook your own food.
Let your palate explore the wonders of Aomori’s quintessential fresh seafood, served on top of a bowl of steamed rice. Nokke-don ("rice bowl with toppings") is a great favorite among locals and a must-try for visitors. While rice bowls are common, what sets nokke-don apart is the freedom to choose your favorite toppings.
One of the best places to experience nokke-don is the Aomori Gyosai Center (also known as the Furukawa Fish Market). Hundreds of options are within reach, including various local seafood, vegetables, and grilled meat. If you’re overwhelmed with all the choices, try the locally caught scallops and tuna—Aomori’s pride and joy. Ikamenchi (minced squid) or broiled fish, the center’s specialty, adds more texture and flavor to your bowl.
It’s no big secret—especially for sushi and sashimi lovers—that Japanese tuna is a singular treat. The bluefin tuna, caught in the charming Aomori port town of Oma at the tip of Honshu island, tops the lot. Known as the “black diamond of the Tsugaru Strait” for the spectacular auction prices it has been known to fetch at Tokyo’s fish markets, Oma Tuna is a delicacy you shouldn't miss.
You'll find Oma Tuna served in gourmet restaurants worldwide, but there’s no better place to enjoy it than right in Oma itself—a town that lives and breathes tuna. Visit in September and October when tuna season is in full swing. Take part in “Tuna Days,” featuring tuna tastings, exhibitions where you can watch fishermen carving the massive fish up close, and much more. You can also taste this delicacy in Hama Sushi. One bite of the luscious, melt-in-your-mouth fish, and you’ll know why Oma Tuna has become a household name.
The largest of its kind within Aomori and the Tohoku region, Tatehana Wharf Morning Market appears only in the early hours of every Sunday. This weekend spectacle in the city of Hachinohe sees the quiet fishing port come alive. Tens of thousands of visitors come to check out the fresh fruits of the sea and other delicious local products on sale.
While the market's highlight is the fresh and dried seafood caught at the port, countless stalls sell other goods. These include locally grown fruit and vegetables, bread, kitchen utensils, sewing machines, and more. With over 300 stalls to explore and live music to set the mood, it is a perfect place for an amazing breakfast adventure on a bright Sunday morning before the rest of the tours you have planned for the day.
Hasshoku Center is a large marketplace in Hachinohe and one of the best places to try Aomori local food. There you will find a great selection of fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs from southern Aomori. One of the most popular places in Hasshoku is the Shichirin mura, where you can rent a small charcoal grill and have fun grilling your own food on site. You can purchase fresh food from the market’s many stalls and cook it yourself. It’s a great way to enjoy Hachinohe’s amazing seafood and is very popular among locals and tourists alike.
Established in 1740, Hachinohe Sake Brewery uses organic natural rice and yeast grown in the Aomori prefecture. They are widely known among many visitors and have won many awards overseas. They are best known for two kinds of Aomori sake— Mutsu Otokoyama (dry sake) and Mutsu Hassen (featuring a ginjyo-type aroma and a refreshing sweetness).
Founded in 1806, Narumi Sake Brewery is the oldest brewery in Kuroishi city and is famous for Kikunoi, Inamuraya Bunshiro, and Inamuraya. Narumi’s sake has a flowery fragrance incorporated into the well-loved drink. Tour the traditional storehouse building and experience some free tasting. The brewery is a popular place that even domestic travelers love to visit.
Rokka Sake Brewery, established in 1972, came about when it merged three local breweries: Takashimaya Brewery, Shiraume Brewery, and Kawamura Brewery. They boast of sake brewed with the Tsugaru method—an old-fashioned, handmade way of making sake. Popular brands produced by them are Joppari, Tappi, Kurako, and Tsugaru Kaikyo.
If you’re wondering where to buy some sake to take back home, make your way to Tsujimura Liquor Store, located a 24-minute drive away from Aomori Airport. There you can try and buy various local sake, including the one by Nishida Sake Brewery. They were founded in 1878 and sell the popular but rare sake labeled Denshu. Tours and tasting are not yet available at their brewery, but you can buy their sake in Tsujimura.
For those asking, "where are Fuji apples grown?" Aomori is home to the Fuji apple and the largest apple producer in Japan. Fuji apples are a popular variety, especially in the U.S. market today. They originated as a crossbreed between two American apples, the Red Delicious and the Old Virginia Ralls Janet. You can also see the oldest Fuji apple tree in Aomori.
When you go to Hirosaki City, ask the tourist information kiosk for an “apple pie hunt” map, and they will gladly oblige. This map shows over 50 different types of apple pies to try in the city. The Taishō Roman Tea Room, located in the beautiful Fujita Memorial Garden near Hirosaki Castle, offers apple pie samplers. This is a popular treat among locals.
Hirosaki Cider Brewery Kimori sits within the Hirosaki Apple Park where water from Mt. Iwaki flows down to water the apple orchards. In November, the ripened apples are brought to the brewery and turned into apple cider.
You can head to the Hirosaki Cider Brewery Kimori’s tasting room to get some samples. There are several seats both indoors and outdoors, set back into the apple orchard.
These two shopping malls sell a variety of apple products, cider products, and local produce. If you’re looking for a place to try samples or buy souvenirs, head to either of these—or both.
Have you ever dreamed of journeying through a winter wonderland onboard a classic train? Tsugaru Railway’s “Stove Train” is there to make your dreams a reality. Since 1930, the Stove Train has been running between Tsugaru-Goshogawara Station and Tsugaru-Nakasato Station in the deep snows of the Tsugaru Region between December and March.
In contrast to the frozen landscape outside, the carriages are warm and cozy, thanks to the presence of traditional potbelly stoves with fresh coal delivered by train staff from time to time.
If you want to have a filling meal while enjoying the snow-swept scene outside the window, try the “stove bento” (lunch box). Packed in a specially made bamboo bento box, you’ll find onigiri rice balls, locally-sourced squid and prawns, and vegetables. Note that you must reserve this bento ahead of time, but it’s more than worth the experience to give it a try.
Aside from the stove bento, the train’s friendly attendants grill dried squid on top of the stoves that you can buy when cooked. There are also other snacks, such as rice cakes and rice balls, also grilled above the stove.
There's a lot to see and do in Aomori, as well as a lot to experience and eat. From special rice bowls to deliciously-brewed sake to different types of apple pie, trying out Aomori's local delicacies is an adventure of its own.
Aomori cuisine is one of its many hidden treasures. No matter where you go in Aomori, you'll have a great food experience.
Known for its history, cuisine, and unrivaled nature views, Aomori is the northernmost prefecture in Japan’s Tohoku region.
Aomori is a destination to explore World Heritage Site Mt. Shirakami as well as many other beautiful natural areas like Juniko Lakes and Juniko Forest.