Aomori prefecture is known for fishing, agriculture and forestry, making it home to an immense variety of fresh food and unique beverages, with many opportunities to treat yourself to them all. Here’s some of our picks to help you find a little bit of everything.
Misawa Nine Day Market
Fresh, local produce are showcased every day of the month ending in the number nine at the Nine Day Market. In-season, quality vegetables can be found here from a variety of local farmers. Other vendors also offer items such as flowers, Japanese knives, glass floats and antique collectibles. Prices change from booth to booth so hunting for the best deal is part of the fun. Most vendors arrive around 9 a.m. so get there early and don’t forget the yen.
Fruit Picking (Nanbu Town Tourist Center)
Visit this tourist center and ask about fruit picking. Depending on the season, you can pick your own blueberries, strawberries, apples and more from local farms. Nanbu Town Tourist Center will call a local farmer to take you to an orchard so you can pick fresh fruit and view the peaceful countryside. Reservations are recommended but not necessary.
Tatehana Wharf Morning Market
Connect with locals and try new foods while you walk along the port with ships at dock. This market is so massive, it’s more like a festival. Said to be the largest morning market in Japan, 400 stalls are open for shopping as thousands of visitors gather every week. Find fresh and cooked seafood or crisp, just picked produce at great prices. You can visit every Sunday from sunrise until 9 a.m. from mid-March through the end of December.
Mutsu Minato Station Front Morning Market
Choose from the fresh caught seafood of the day and watch your favorites pulled from port to your plate. Enjoy your catch served as sashimi or hot off the grill. This is the oldest market in Hachinohe City. Listen to the “kattcha” (mom) call out orders and talk with locals as you absorb a morning in Hach. If you’re an early bird, they’ve got the worm for you; this market opens at 3 a.m. year round but things wrap up around noon.
Hachinohe Fish Market (Hassyoku Center)
The Hachinohe Fish Market is one of the biggest markets near Misawa for seafood lovers to get fresh fish straight out of Hachinohe Port. Aisles are jam-packed with sea creatures and smiling faces. Though squid (ichigoni) and mackerel (saba) are the city’s main staples, there doesn’t seem to be a type of fish, shellfish or mollusk that this market doesn’t have. More than a place to buy fish, this market offers an experience that encompasses the best of northern Japanese culture. Sellers will proudly greet you with their best samples. Try wakame (seaweed) in a vendor’s prized sauce or see how saki aka is made (squid jerky) and have a bite. A great adventure for the kids as well—enormous crabs and other live sea dwellers are aplenty at the fish market. Not up for seafood tonight? Vendors also sell fresh fruit and vegetables, sake and refreshing ice cream. Hassyoku Center is open from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. every day but Wednesday. Be sure to bring cash, as with many Japanese establishments, credit cards are not accepted.
Miroku Yokocho (Food Stall Village)
Hachinohe is a true city of the sea—the food, drink and atmosphere very much reflects a city whose beginnings were “humble fishing port” and that very trade is what has formed Hach into a cultural mecca. Now the Aomori prefecture’s second largest city, fishing in Hach begins before the sun rises and doesn’t stop until midnight, but locals know how to play as hard as they work. Located in central Hachinohe, Miroku Yokocho is the largest gathering of food stalls in Japan, with over 25 tiny restaurants with big personalities. Each stall owner combines local ingredients with traditional recipes to create diverse culinary delights that are unique to the city. About eight people maximum can sit together in each stall and savor fresh catches and locally grown food that is prepared and cooked to perfection—the same way it has been for generations. Toasting with strangers is tradition here—make a new friend or two, as you wander in and out of each tiny eatery, learning more about Japanese culture and feeling like one of the locals. Stall hours vary depending on stall.
Egg Vending Machine
Get farm fresh eggs right here in Misawa. If you love eggs, Japan is the place to be. Few things are better than the delightful, velvety, orange yolk of a Japanese egg. Look no further than right down the road from the Falcon (POL) gate for farm fresh, free range eggs. Farmers place their eggs in the vending machine daily and ¥200 gets you your choice of brown or white, large or medium sized.