- Marina Tsuji
10 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Aomori Prefecture
Aomori Prefecture is rich in nature, as it is the land of the Shirakami-Sanchi mountain range and the picturesque Oirase Gorge. Aomori is also rich in souvenirs, from popular products made with its famous apples to traditional handcrafted items. This article will introduce some souvenirs you might want to buy when visiting Aomori.
1. Fuji Apples
Aomori is famous for its apples. The prefecture produces approximately 57% of all apples grown in Japan. Among them, one of the most produced is the always popular Fuji apple, a must-buy souvenir. The apples’ bright color and smooth skin is the proof of how carefully they are grown: every one of them is manually bagged on the tree. After the Fuji apples are picked in November, they are put in a special refrigerator until the spring. They are sold from April to August when other varieties are in low supply. Don’t miss the crisp texture and well balanced sweet and tart flavors of Aomori’s Fuji apples!
2. Soft Ringo
Soft Ringo (2 slices per package 150 JPY (excl. tax)) are freeze-dried slices of raw apples. This product takes fresh apples from Aomori, cuts them into 1 cm thick rings and dries them just like, so as to condense all of the fruit’s delicious taste inside. Usually, dried fruits use a lot of sugar and are quite moist, but Soft Ringo doesn’t use any sugar, so it is only mildly sweet. One bite and you feel the scent of apple floating through the air. This is a great food souvenir for health-conscious people because it has no additives and it’s easy on the body. Soft Ringo comes in two flavors: the red apple Fuji, and the green apple Orin. They are also suited for souvenirs because they last for a very long time. t
3. Tsugaru Kanjuku Ringo Juice (Tsugaru Fully Ripe Apple Juice)
Tsugaru Kanjuku Ringo Juice is made of 100% squeezed whole apples from Aomori. Two of the characteristics of apples grown in Aomori are their crispness and strong sweetness due to the great temperature differences prevalent in the region. The quality and taste of the juice extracted are also closely checked. Tsugaru Kanjuku Ringo Juice has two varieties: the White Label with its clean texture and sweet-tart finishing taste (1,000 ml 594 JPY (incl. tax)), and the limited Red Label with its delicate and refined acidity (1,000 ml 1,080 JPY (incl. tax)). Another recommendation is the small-size bottle “nora Fuji Blend Kobin” (180 ml 195 JPY (incl. tax)).
4. Kininaru Ringo
Kininaru Ringo (864 JPY (incl. tax)) is a must-have food souvenir that has even been presented on TV. It's a lavish apple pie made with a whole Fuji apple from Aomori that is soaked in syrup for a month and then enveloped in pie sheet. Usually, apple pies are quite sweet and the apple inside is very moist, but Kininaru Ringo conserves the sweet and tart flavor of the raw apple along with its crisp texture, offering you a brand new mouthfeel. The taste and volume are definitely satisfying! Since you can store it at room temperature, it is perfect for a souvenir.
5. Momokawa Nigori Junmai Torouma
Momokawa Nigori Junmai Torouma (720 ml 1,058 (incl. tax)) is a Japanese sake made with rice produced in Aomori and water from the Oirase River. As a sake from the junmai-shu category, Torouma doesn’t make use of any distilled alcohol, it only uses rice, water and koji mold to create a rice-scented and thick textured sake. Compared to other junmai-shu, this sake is relatively cheap, so it is perfect to buy as a souvenir. Torouma is only available from mid-September to around early April (while supplies last), so don’t miss your chance!
6. Stamina Minamoto Tare
Stamina Minamoto Tare (410g 483 JPY (incl. tax)) is a multi-use condiment that goes perfectly with yakiniku (Japanese style BBQ) and vegetable dishes. This multi-purpose sauce is a mixture of apples, onions, garlic, ginger, and many other raw vegetables, with soy sauce made only using soybeans and wheat locally produced in Aomori. Stamina Minamoto Tare can be used in barbecues and stir-fried vegetable dishes, seafood, such as grilled saury and squid, not to mention as a seasoning for fried chicken. For the company’s 50th year anniversary, they released the Stamina Minamoto Tare Premium (410g 540 JPY (incl. tax)) with 30% more apple to improve the sauce’s sweetness and richness!
7. Hachinoheya Senbei-jiru (Hachinoheya Cracker Soup)
“Senbei-jiru” is a kind of soup made with rice crackers that has even taken the gold medal in the food festival B-1 Grand Prix (a festival to decide who has the best local food among all prefectures in Japan). Senbei-jiru is a traditional food from Hachinohe City and consists of a broth made of beef or fish, vegetables, and mushrooms where specially made crackers of flour and salt called Nambu Senbei are added. These crackers are made for hotpots and other types of soups so they don’t melt apart and maintain a nice texture. Hachinoheya Senbei-jiru (432 JPY (incl. tax)), a set of 3 packs of soup and 10 crackers perfect for a hotpot for 3 or 4 people, is a great souvenir that allows you to easily recreate the flavors from Hachinohe in your home!t
8. Nanbu Senbei
Nambu Senbei is a kind of cracker particularly loved by the people of Hachinohe City. It’s quite a simple snack consisting of thinly grilled discs of dough made of flour, water, and salt. Nambu Senbei comes in many flavors: you have the classic “Shiro-senbei” (white senbei), “Goma-senbei” (sesame senbei) with an addictive bitter taste, the slightly sweet “Mame-senbei” with embedded peanuts, and more. You can add it to a hotpot, make a senbei sandwich with freshly made rice and red beans called “Okowa-senbei (or Kobirikko),” you can try a “senbei tempura,” or perhaps a “senbei pizza”, people eat Nambu Senbei in so many different ways.
9. Tsugaru Vidro
Tsugaru Vidro was born from a traditional handmade glassware workshop. This workshop used to make transparent colorless glass floats for fishing, but one day one of the artisans happened to mix some sand found in the beautiful beach of Shichiri-nagahama to the glass mixture and ended up creating a deep green colored glass. Currently, the artisans use their skillful techniques to try and recreate the colors of the four seasons in their creations. A perfect souvenir would be the colorful chopstick rest set (set with 5 units 3,780 JPY (incl. tax)) or the sake glass and wooden square cup set Oborozukiyo (3,780 JPY (incl. tax)), which will certainly make you crave for some Japanese sake.
10. Tsugaru Lacquer
Tsugaru lacquer is the only traditional lacquerware from the northernmost part of Japan. The trademark pattern seen in Tsugaru lacquerware is achieved by applying multiple coats of lacquer. Around 50 applications are carried during two months or more of careful work to finish the lacquerware. Some techniques, such as “Kara-nuri” used to create complex spot patterns, and “Nanako-nuri” for rape seeds pattern, have been employed without any changes for more than 300 years. Tsugaru lacquerware is a piece of art created by craftsmanship, and is the sole product in Aomori Prefecture designated as a Traditional Crafts by the Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry. A small dish or chopsticks would make a beautiful souvenir!t
Apple sweets, apple juice, long-time traditional crafts… so many wonderful things were introduced in this article! We hope you make use of it during your trip to Aomori so you can get yourself a memorable souvenir typical of the region!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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