Aomori has fresh fish. I mean, the city is right on the ocean so that’s not exactly a surprise, but still…
Backing up a bit, I spent the weekend in Aomori city visiting one of my best friends from college, who is with the JET program up there. It was my first time in the city (aside from a six hour “layover” several years back, when Ryosuke and I took a ferry from Aomori up to Hakodate). There were so many things I wanted to do, see, and eat – but not enough time.
One of the highlights of the trip was the Aomori Gyosai Center (also known as the Furukawa Fish Market).
This fish market is a tourist attraction that lets you build your own fish bowl, or nokkedon, using tickets and creativity.
Well, when you enter, there is a desk at the front that lets you buy a package of tickets.
The 5 pack of tickets cost 540yen and the 10 pack of tickets cost 1080yen.
My friend opted for the 5 pack (since she wasn’t very hungry) and I went for the 10 pack. We took our tickets to one of the vendors with an orange flag, a chatty old Japanese lady with a large rice cooker, and she filled our bowls up with rice in exchange for one ticket. She also gave us sushi vinegar to sprinkle on our rice.
After that, it was time to build our bowls!
The market was crammed with stalls selling fish, seafood, and pickled vegetables in on small plates, costing between one and two tickets each. A lot of the vendors carried the same things like fish eggs, salmon, and tuna but there were a lot of random specialties too.
I ended up with two types of salmon, salmon roe, some sort of slimy raw pinkish fish that one of the vendors talked me into, raw squid on shiso leaves, egg, and very, very fresh raw scallops (since they’re an Aomori specialty) – and gave my last ticket to my friend.
Some of the vendors also sold their fish in packets that you could take home. If I was heading back to Tokyo right away, I definitely would have picked up some for Ryosuke (but I’m not sure how long raw fish stays good for at room temperature on the shinkansen).
In the end, my bowl looked like this:
Each of the vendors tried to artfully arrange their fish so that it harmonized well.
Looking back, it might have been a bit pricey for the amount of food that I got… but when I’m traveling, I don’t mind shelling out 1080yen for lunch + experience. Plus, it was really, really fresh fish.
If you’re in Aomori city, I highly recommend the Furukawa Fish Market. It’s free to enter (you only have to pay if you’re going to build your bowl).
Address: 1-11-16, Furukawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori 030-0862
Hours of Operation: (closed Tuesdays) 7:00AM – 4:00PM. But some stalls inside the building keep shorter hours.