Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tomb of Christ



Ah, Shingo, the village of Mystery and Romance (or so the sign said). Here you can find what is believed by some to be the  burial mound of Jesus Christ and his brother, Isukiri. Oh, you didn’t know?

The legend states that when He was 21 years old, Jesus Christ (イエスキリスト) came to Japan and studied theology for 12 years. He came back to Judea at the age of 33 in order to preach, but people there rejected His teachings and arrested Him to crucify Him.
However, it was His little brother Isukiri (イスキリ) who took His place and ended his life on the cross. Jesus Christ, having escaped crucifixion, resumed His travels and finally came back to Japan, where He settled in this village, Herai, and lived till the age of 106.
In this holy place, the tomb on the right is dedicated to Jesus Christ, while the tomb on the left commemorates His brother, Isukiri. All of this is written in Jesus Christ's testament (which He wrote Himself and can be seen in the museum located beyond the burial mounds). You can read more details about the Tomb of Christ here.


When you first arrive you are greeted by the calming rush of a small waterfall.  From there, it is a  220 meter walk to the site.  You will notice a Japanese style graveyard. This is for the Sawaguchi family, the owners and, according to the story, descendants of Christ.



We did not enter the museum (pictures weren’t allowed anyway) but did go into the entrance where they have mobile wooden sculptures of daily life during the time Jesus was in Shingo. They also sell Dracula garlic flavored ice cream.



At the Jesus’ and Isikiri’s gravesites there are baskets to throw in a coin and say a prayer.

There isn’t much to do at this location but it is a pretty drive and interesting place to talk about. Whether or not the legend is true it’s always nice to stop somewhere in quiet meditation and prayer.

Directions: Drive west to Route 4 in Towada, then turn left and head south about 20 miles to Route 454. Head west on Route 454 for 9 miles and look for the “Tombs of Christ” sign in Shingo.

Hours: The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October.
Admission: 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for children.
Information: Call (0178) 78-2111.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rokkasho Salmon Festival 2011



Rokkasho Salmon Festival was held on October 25th and 29th this year. It is extremely popular and the main event is catching your own salmon (with your bare hands). This event is not free and you do need to buy a ticket in advance. (Tickets are appx. ¥2700). Each ticket allows you to catch one fish, so if you buy three tickets you can catch 3 fish. You only have about three minutes to catch your salmon. After that if you haven’t caught one, they will catch one for you.  I did not participate because 1: no ticket 2: it is pretty cold when they hold the event 3: I’d probably get really attached to my fish. (They slaughter it immediately afterward). It’s as close to punching a dolphin in the mouth as you’ll ever get.


The first six people lucky enough to catch a salmon can enter the salmon race. The winner gets a prize. (Not exactly sure what the prize is).


After the catch you can bring your salmon to get “cleaned” (read killed). No, I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, its just amazing one minute the salmon is alive, the next it’s knocked out and then CHOP…headless. Well, that’s the best way to get fresh fish!



For those who are thrifty and like to keep warm and dry and still want salmon, there is a salmon net pull and they sell the salmon at a discounted rate. (This year they were only  ¥200 each!)


There are plenty of other events that take place during the festival such as contests and entertainment. We got to see the adult and children’s Squid peeling / Naga-imo (Japanese yam) grating contest and the Rock ShuS &  Rokko Jazz Band show. Other events were Shochu and milk drinking contests, dance shows, DIY BBQ, charity face portraits, bingo and different types of theatrics.





Rokkasho Town is only a 45 minute drive north of Misawa Air Base. Go out the main gate, turn left at the first light and go straight until you hit the T at the Pacific Ocean. Turn left, you will now be on Rt. 338 going north. From the T go 21.9km and turn right at the light (there will be a convenience store on the left at this light). Follow this road 6.6 km and turn right (the sign will point to the Rokkasho Village Office) follow this road 6.6 kilometers and turn right (there is a small post office on the left). This road will take you to the festival site at the pier.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011





Moritoyama is a soba shop located in Misawa. It is one street across from Nakashio Gifts on white pole road.






You can order  either a hot or cold soba dish. It is a great place to try to mix up from your routine restaurants and also great for soba lovers!

This building is actually two stores, Matsuda liquor store is on the right and Moritoyama is the entrance on the left.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Japan: where 80s has-beens become stars once again.


310246_2545978011458_1314019772_2940299_1613950732_n Okay so I’m going to get a little nostalgic here so bear with me. I don’t know what happened to the toy market in America, but it is awful. I see new toys on the shelf every holiday season and think to myself “Would I even WANT this for Christmas?!” I must say we had the best toys and I think Japan has noticed and is making bank on them!

I went to MG Plaza recently and they have rearranged the store. I noticed a lot of toys that I grew up with for sale and the characters splashed on towels, keychains, notebooks, pencils an anything else you could think of.

Some of you may not remember the Yum Yums but I do. I think the toy came out first and then they had some cartoon afterward. (I actually didn’t know about the cartoon until looking for the toy commercial on YouTube with no luck). I actually had the Peppermint Kitty. All of the toys have a scent on their tummy.

And now along with the toys you can get yum yum notebooks, folders pencils, pillows, towels….etc!


An even more popular toy in the 80s (and one of my favorites) was the popple. I had a few of them but my favorite being the large pink one (pictured). Popples also came out with a cartoon after the toys.


If you don’t know what a Popple is, check out the commercial below. Heck, even if you DO check it out. I remember going to the toy store looking for one! (BTW the price for these Popples at ¥4200 is astronomical! That’s about $50 USD! (Maybe more)

Popples commercial USA

Popples and Yum Yums are just a few examples of old cartoons reviving to a Hello Kitty status in Japan. I’ve also seen Raggety Ann and Andy! I forget which character it was, but I noticed one of my Japanese friends had a keychain or something of an old 80s toy. When I inquired if they knew what it was they just responded with “I just got it because it is cute.” Touché Japan, touché. Mattel must be making a killing. I just imagine them in a conference room deciding what to do with all these toys from the 80s and how they can still make a profit on them. “Send it to Japan, hell… they’ll buy anything cute or weird.”

It’s a shame they don’t sell (and advertise) these as new products in the States (without having to go to Spencer’s Gifts or Newbury Comics) so that American children can have access to toys worth asking Santa for!





We took a leisurely ride up to Hakkoda to see the fall colors. We also stopped at a few sites on the way.

The first site was Dozono Chaya. It is a rest stop/restaurant/giftshop/ memorial/museum. We got some really delicious mochi-type thing here… and then we went back to buy more because it was so good!


DSC_3578_DxO  DSC_3587_DxODSC_3610_DxO


The building also has a small museum which you can view for ¥200. I’m not quite sure of the specifics but something to do with Japanese soldiers walking through Hakkoda in the snow. That is also what the memorial behind the rest stop is for as well.

DSC_3607_DxO  DSC_3598_DxO


Next stop was “Legendary Tea.” Being a tea enthusiast myself, this sounded intriguing and I couldn’t wait to try it. The legend is as follows “drink one cup and increase your life by 3 years, drink 2 cups and increase your life by 3 more years, and drink 3 cups you will live as long as possible.”


DSC_3629_DxO The tea is actually free of charge when you drink it here.  You wash your cup in the fountain and pour the tea from either one of the pots using a wooden ladle. Please wash your cup again when finished. 

Naturally, I drank three cups out here. I also went inside to buy a snack (konyaku) It was pretty good! We had another cup of tea here.


The shop also sells the tea leaves used to make legendary tea for ¥300 for 10 grams.

Next stop was Jigokunuma or “Hell” Swamp. This swamp is a crater lake produced by the eruption of Mt. Hakkoda that occurred in its last phase of volcanic activity. Every minute 2,700 liters of strongly acidic, 90°C water comes out of the bottom of the swamp.


The next stop was Suirennuma Pond. By this time it looked like it was about to storm heavily.


Our final stop was in front of Sarukura Spa Resort. They had a lovely stream.


Fall is a popular time for people to go through Hakkoda and enjoy the fall colors. I really enjoyed seeing all the beauty of autumn in Aomori . If you haven’t gone to Hakkoda in the fall I recommend it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Parm ice cream bars


I now would like to highlight  an ice cream bar so delectable I thought it should  be featured in this blog.

I saw a commercial for Parm on Japanese television and decided to try it when I came upon it while browsing Universe supermarket. It is smaller than your average American ice cream bar, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. (calories, people!). The most common flavor has vanilla ice cream with a chocolate coating. All of the coatings are a little more on the fudgy side (they aren’t crisp like Dove bars so pieces of chocolate don’t break off).


Currently there are four flavors, chocolate, espresso latte, vanilla white chocolate, and the newest one and my new favorite, almond. I think they may have other flavors that come out for a limited time. It’s a delicious ice cream bar with a strange name so why not try it out and discover your favorite flavor?!

Sunday, September 25, 2011






After visiting Asamushi Aquarium and Aomori Art Museum we were pretty famished so we looked for a place to eat and Hachi-ya (literally 8 shop) looked good, and it was!DSC_2346DSC_2352

This place is great for non-native speakers because they have a picture of every menu item and then you just use the vending machine to buy the ticket for your order.


You can sit at the bar, at a table or take your shoes off and try it Japanese stlye! And if you’re bored, they have an entire library of mangas to look through!

DSC_2349DSC_2348DSC_2355 In addition to ramen, they have three different rice bowls (I think it is more of a side order/ appetizer but I’m sure 2 of them could count as a meal) which are ¥250 each)