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Alluring: Aomori, Japan (2)

Wendy Yeh

In the city of Aomori, the skyline’s contemporary angles are the result from its destruction during World War II and rebuilding thereafter. But Aomori also celebrates ancient societies that settled here millennia ago.

I was reminded of this historic past at the 21st-century museum of modern art, as its architecture pays homage to the nearby excavations of ancient ruins.

There are three major Aomori products: Aomori apples, garlic, and yams. Aomori accounts for more than half of all apple harvests in Japan. Different types of apples, including Tsugaru and Sekai-ichi, are harvested at different months.
The Aomori garlic has large cloves and accounts for approximate 80% of all domestic production. Its snowy white cloves and outstanding quality are highly regarded nationally and are the pride of Aomori.

Accounting for approximately 40% of the distribution of Yams in Japan, Aomori’s yams are highly valued for their snowy white color, sweet, full-bodied taste, and crispy texture.

I joined a chef-guided market tour and enjoyed explorations across the city. As we were strolling through the town, we passed by the Auga Fresh Market. This is a produce market with 87 stores in the basement of a commercial building called “Auga.” Visitors can enjoy seafood from Aomori to the fullest in one of their restaurants.

With large production of cultured scallops in Japan, I was determined to try some fresh scallops when visiting Aomori. There are many scallop-themed meals in the seafood restaurant. I was able to choose from fresh scallop sashimi, fresh scallop steak, baby scallop sushi, baby scallop soup, or even a scoop of scallop ice cream.

Each change of season brings fresh new beauty to the coastal town of Aomori. The blush of cherry blossoms greets visitors in spring, while in winter the forests of the surrounding mountains are so heavily laden with snow that the trees appear to be giant white beasts.

In Japanese culture, sakura is the embodiment of beauty and fragility. The delicate and graceful cherry blossoms are a symbol of the spring which is a time of renewal. After their beauty peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to fall. A fallen cherry blossom or its petals symbolize the fleeting nature of life.

I was fortunate enough to witness the “flower rafts” when I was strolling through the elegant parks in Aomori. I happened to see the millions of cherry blossom petals carpeting on the water surface of a moat creating what is known as Hana-Ikada. The literal translation for Hana-Ikada is the “flower rafts.” It was truly a breath-taking scene.

From the invigorating rhythms of Japan to the magical scenery and rugged beauty of Asia, Aomori offered me an indelible experience. I just wish I could have spent more time there。



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