Thursday, 29 January 2015

Towada Art Center Temporary Closure Notice

The Towada Art Center will be closed for maintenance for four days next month, from Monday, February 16th - Thursday, February 19th, 2015.

The Lounge area will also be closed for floor repairs from Monday, February 2nd - Friday, February 27th, 2015. During this period the Michael Lin piece, "Untitled" will not be available for viewing. The Cafe and Shop may also be closed on some days; please inquire at the Towada Art Center for more details.

Towada Barayaki 十和田バラ焼き

Barayaki History
Barayaki is a simple dish of grilled beef* flank and onions marinated in a soy sauce based sauce (called “tare”). The dish is said to have originated in the 1950s in Towada’s neighbouring city, Misawa, where an American air base was (and is still) located. People were able to obtain the beef flanks cheaply from the Air Base. Onions were also a cheap and easily obtainable vegetable at that time. So the meat and onions were combined with tare and barayaki was born.

*Although barayaki was originally made with beef, it is now also made with pork or horse meat.

Towada Barayaki
 Although barayaki originated in Misawa, its popularity spread throughout nearby cities and towns, including Towada. It is so popular now in Towada that it is served in about 70 restaurants! (See the Google Maps Barayaki Map (Japanese) for a comprehensive list of establishments in Towada serving barayaki.)

In 2008, the Towada Barayaki Seminar (Barazemi) group was formed to promote Towada through barayaki as a local cuisine. The Barazemi rose logo and motto “La vie en rose” (French, meaning “Enjoy a rosy life”) is a play on the word “barayaki” since another meaning for “bara” (flank meat) in Japanese is “rose.”
Towada Barayaki Seminar Barazemi Logo 十和田バラ焼きぜミナール バラゼミ

Towada Barayaki and the B-1 Grand Prix

The B-1 Grand Prix is a contest for “local gourmet brand*” foods from all over Japan. Barazemi started promoting Towada Barayaki at various local B-1 Grand Prix events in 2009 and made its first appearance at a national B-1 Grand Prix Competition in 2010.

(*Most people likely believe that the "B" in B-1 stands for "B-grade" (B級, B-kyuu) although it actually stands for "brand.")

    B-1 Grand Prix Participation and Ranking History
  • September 2009 B-1 Grand Prix Exhibition (Akita) – participant
  • December 2009 Tohoku B-1 in Hachinohe (Aomori) – 1st place
  • September 2010 5th B-1 Grand Prix in Atsugi (Kanagawa) - 8th place
  • October 2010 Hokkaido-Tohoku B-1 Grand Prix in Yokote (Akita) – 1st place
  • September 2011 Hokkaido-Tohoku B-1 Grand Prix in Aomori (Aomori) – participant*
  • October 2011 6th B-1 Grand Prix in Himeji (Hyogo) – 8th place
  • October 2012 7th B-1 Grand Prix in Kitakyushu (Fukuoka) – 10th place
  • September 2013 Hokkaido-Tohoku Grand Prix in Towada (Aomori) – host
  • November 2013 8th B-1 Grand Prix in Toyokawa (Aichi) – 2nd place
  • October 2014 9th B-1 Grand Prix in Koriyama (Fukushima) – 1st place
    *Voting was not held at this event


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Relaxing Restaurant-Cafe Drive-In Isshin

Restaurant/Cafe Spotlight: Drive-In Isshin ドライブイン イッシン
(Commonly referred to as "Isshin")
Towada Drive-In Isshin 十和田市 ドライブイン イッシン
 Towada Drive-In Isshin 十和田市 ドライブイン イッシン
Towada Drive-In Isshin 十和田市 ドライブイン イッシン
Towada Drive-In Isshin 十和田市 ドライブイン イッシン

With its warm lighting and wood-burning stove, Isshin is a great place to study, read books, play board games (Japanese comics, books, and games are available for free use) and enjoy a leisurely meal, alone or with friends. However, it is not the best choice for those in a hurry, as food and drinks take a fair bit of preparation time. The large menu has a little bit of everything: Japanese food, curry, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, parfaits, hot and cold drinks, etc. The parfaits are particularly well known for the impressive arrangement of fruits on top.

Recommended Menu Items:

Vegetable Stir-Fry-Style Grilled Meat (Pork) Set* 750yen 
野菜炒め風焼肉(ポーク)セット (Yasai Itame-Fu Yakiniku (Pork) Setto)
*Set includes rice, miso soup, salad, and pickled vegetables (tsukemono); 540yen à la carte (tanpin 単品)
Yasai Itame Fu Yakiniku Pork Set Isshin 野菜炒め風焼肉ポークセット イッシン

Cream Stew Set* クリームシチューセット 970yen
* Set includes salad and choice of rice or bread; 750 yen à la carte (tanpin 単品)
Cream Stew Set Isshin クリームシチューセット イッシン

Lasagne ラザニャ 915yen
(Comes with salad; eggplant in lasagne)
Lasagne Isshin ラザニャ イッシン

Cake Set ケーキセット 810yen
Choice of Hotcakes or Daily Cake; Isshin Blend Coffee, Ice Coffee, Isshin Blend Tea, or Ice Tea

Daily Cake Set Isshin 本日のケーキセット イッシン
Hotcakes Cake Set Isshin ホットケーキ ケーキセット イッシン

Parfait パフェ All 750yen

Chocolate Parfait チョコレートパフェ (pictured)/ Fruit Parfait フルーツパフェ/ Matcha Ice Parfait 抹茶アイスパフェ
Chocolate Parfait Isshin チョコレートパフェ イッシン

Cocoa Parfait ココアパフェ/ Tea Parfait ティーパフェ/ & Other Drink Parfaits
 Cocoa Parfait Isshin ココアパフェ イッシン
Tea Parfait Isshin ティーパフェ イッシン

Banana Parfait バナナパフェ
(Whipped Cream Roses! Choice of Chocolate (pictured), Vanilla, Strawberry or Matcha Ice Cream)
 Banana Parfait (Chocolate) Isshin バナナパフェ(チョコレート) イッシン

Hours: 10:30-22:00, Closed Thursdays
Price Range: 1000yen~2000yen
English/Picture Menu: N/A
Seating: Counter and Tables
Good For: Solo Dining; Couples; Families; Small to Large Groups
Reservations: Usually not necessary, except for large groups
Phone: 0176-22-8788
Parking: Available (~10 cars)
Shimomaekawara-65−2 Osaka (十和田市大字相坂字下前川原65‐2)
Towada, Aomori Prefecture 034-0041

Friday, 23 January 2015

Former Kasaishi Residence & Towada Museum of History and Folklore 旧笠石家住宅・十和田湖民俗資料館

Located near Yakeyama, the former Kasaishi Residence is a traditional thatched roof house designated as a “National Important Cultural Property.” In combination with the Museum of History and Folklore, a visit here provides a glimpse into the local traditional lifestyle.

April - October: 9:00-16:30 Wednesday-Monday
November - March: 9:00-16:00 Wednesday-Monday
Closed: Tuesdays, New Year's (December 31st-January 3rd)
Adults & University Students: 102yen
Elementary, Junior High, & Senior High School Students: 51yen
Address: Tochikubo-80 Okuse (青森県十和田市奥瀬栃久保80)
Phone: 0176-74-2547

Former Kasaishi Residence
Former Kasaishi Residence  重要文化財旧笠石家住宅
 Former Kasaishi Residence  重要文化財旧笠石家住宅
 (Video from B-1 Grand Prix in Towada YouTube Channel)

Towada Museum of History and Folklore
 Towada Museum of History and Folklore 十和田湖民俗資料館
Former Kasaishi Residence
(Video from B-1 Grand Prix in Towada YouTube Channel)
Aomori Sightseeing Guide, “Former Kasaishi Residence – Lake Towada Folk Museum”

More Sightseeing in Towada:

Oirase Gorge (Oirase Keiryuu) 奥入瀬渓流

Along with Lake Towada, Oirase Gorge is part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. The forests, stream, and numerous waterfalls in the gorge make it a gorgeous hike in any season. The 14km section of the Oirase River (a 67km long river connecting Lake Towada and the Pacific Ocean) that runs through the Gorge is referred to as the “Oirase Mountain Stream.” It takes about 4-5hr to walk through the entire Gorge, but there is also a road that runs parallel to the walking path so it is possible to drive and/or take a bus part of the way. Regular and electric bicycle rentals are also available at Yakeyama, Nenokuchi, and Ishigedo.

Oirase Gorge (Oirase Keiryuu) 奥入瀬渓流
 Oirase Gorge (Oirase Keiryuu) 奥入瀬渓流
 Oirase Gorge (Oirase Keiryuu) 奥入瀬渓流
 Choshi-Otaki Fall Oirase Gorge (Oirase Keiryuu) 奥入瀬渓流 銚子大滝

(Tatsuta-no-taki 立田の滝, Video from B-1 Grand Prix in Towada YouTube Channel)

National Parks of Japan, “Introducing places of interest: Towada-Hachimantai National Park”

Aomori Sightseeing Guide, “Enjoy Exploring Oirase Gorge by E-Bike” Yururira Towada: Towada City Tourist Information Portal Site

More Sightseeing in Towada:

Lake Towada (Towadako) 十和田湖

Lake Towada is the largest double caldera lake (formed by volcanic eruption) on Honshu and the 3rd deepest lake in Japan. It straddles three prefectures: Aomori, Akita, and Iwate. The Towada Jinja (shrine) and the Statue of Maidens (乙女の像 Otome no Zou, the final work of poet and sculptor Takamura, Kotaro) are two popular sightseeing spots at the lake.
Lake Towada Towadako 十和田湖
 Lake Towada Towadako 十和田湖
 Towada Jinja (Shrine) Lake Towada Towadako 十和田湖 十和田神社
Statue of Maidens Lake Towada Towadako 十和田湖 乙女の像

The Towada City Towadako Tourist Center “Puratto” (十和田市十和田湖観光交流センターぷらっと) opened in October 2014. It provides information about sightseeing around the Lake as well as featuring various exhibits related to Lake Towada. Current exhibits are about the introduction of himemasu fish to the Lake; Takamura, Kotaro, the sculptor of The Statue of Maidens; and Omachi, Keigetsu, a famous late 19th-early 20th century traveling poet who loved the Lake Towada-Oirase Gorge area.

Free Wi-Fi is also available at the center from 8:00-18:00. SSID: towadako-wifi Password: towadako

Hours: 9:00-17:00 Daily
Address: Towadakohanyasumiya 486-Okuse
Phone:0176-75-1531 FAX:0176-75-153
Lake Towada Tourist Center Puratto 十和田市十和田湖観光交流センターぷらっと
 Himemasu Exhibit Lake Towada Tourist Center Puratto 十和田市十和田湖観光交流センターぷらっと 十和田湖ひめます展示
 Takamura Kotaro Exhibit Lake Towada Tourist Center Puratto 十和田市十和田湖観光交流センターぷらっと 高村光太郎展示
 Omachi Keigetsu Exhibit Lake Towada Tourist Center Puratto 十和田市十和田湖観光交流センターぷらっと 大町桂月展示


National Parks of Japan, “Introducing places of interest: Towada-Hachimantai National Park”

Puratto Information Leaflet (PDF)

The Official Portal of Towada City, “Towadako Kankou Kouryuu Center ‘Puratto’ ni Tsuite” 十和田湖観光交流センター“ぷらっと”について

Yururira Towada: Towada City Tourist Information Portal Site

More Sightseeing in Towada:

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Hachinohe City Museum of Art Special Exhibit Neko

Hachinohe City Museum of Art Special Exhibit: December 20th, 2014 (Sat.) – February 8th, 2015 (Sun.)

“Neko (Cat) Iwago Mitsuaki Photography Exhibit”  
Hachinohe City Museum of Art Neko Iwago Mitsuaki Photography Exhibit 八戸美術館 岩合光明写真展「ねこ」
 Hachinohe City Museum of Art Neko Iwago Mitsuaki Photography Exhibit 八戸美術館 岩合光明写真展「ねこ」

Cat photography exhibit by Japanese wildlife photographer Mitsuaki Iwago, who also films the popular NHK documentary TV series “World Cats Travelogue” (世界ねこの歩き).
9:00-17:00 Tuesday-Sunday (last admission 16:30; closed Mondays, or the following day if Monday is a National Holiday)

10−4 Bancho
Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture 031-0031, Japan

Adult: 500yen
Senior High School & University Students: 300yen
Elementary & Junior High School Students: 100yen*
*Free for local Hachinohe ES & JHS students 

Special Discounts:
Various establishments are offering special promotions/discounts to people who have visited the Neko Exhibit, e.g. Forum Cinema regular admission 1700yen → 1100yen. You will receive a map with a list of participating establishments and the discount/promotion they are offering when you purchase your ticket at the Museum.

Simply show your exhibit ticket stub at a participating store to receive the discount/promotion (one per ticket). The date of the ticket does not matter: if you went to the exhibit in December, you can still use it in February; however, each ticket can only be used once per establishment. Discounts/promotions last until the final day of the exhibit (Sunday, February 8th, 2015) at any number of participating establishments.

Promotional Event [FINISHED]: 
“Our Family’s Idol” Cat Photographs
October 10th, 2014-January 31st, 2015

During the promotion period, submit a photograph of your cat for display at the museum and receive one free admission ticket. Submit photographs at the Museum’s 1st floor registration desk.

Accepted photograph sizes: E判 (8×12cm) ~L判 (9×13cm)
Maximum 1 photograph per person
Photographs will not be returned
Please get permission to display the photo from any people in the photo before submission
For photographs selected for display, photographers’ names, etc. will not be displayed

More Information:
Hachinohe Museum of Art (Japanese):