There are three noodle dishes which Morioka is famous for. One of the most popular is the amusingly named wanko soba which come in small bowls and are consumed one after another until you’ve had enough. This has been covered by a countless number of YouTubers over the years and the record is an absurd 500 or so! The next one is called reimen which is a cold noodle dish with kimuchi in it that originates from Korea.
The final one is jajamen noodles which are udon noodles topped with cucumbers, garlic, chilli oil, and a sweet, miso meat sauce. This was the one I thought to be the more appetising and furthermore it had a name that was very similar to the much-ridiculed Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks. Unlike many people I never had a problem with his appearance in the Star Wars prequels and by pure chance I just happened to have a figure of the character in my bag ready to be whipped out for such a photo opportunity!!
The original jajamen restaurant is called Pairon (5-15 Uchimaru, Morioka) which is a cosy hole-in-the-wall style place with a few tables and counter seats all packed in tightly together.
My order came in no time at all and thankfully it came with a laminated sheet detailing (in English) how exactly to eat it.
The condiments are important for enjoying jajamen but I am never ever sure how much to add or what is right. It said to add a little ginger, garlic, vinegar and spicy oil and then mix it in with the noodles, miso and cucumber. The freshness of the latter helps balance out the richness of the miso meat sauce I’m told but I have no real idea how true that is. What I can say is that it was really good and all the ingredients blended well together to create a great taste which is no doubt why this particular restaurant is so popular.
What’s special about this dish is that it’s kind of two-for-one as once the noodles are nearly completed you can grab an egg, crack it open and add it to the dish along with some hot water. I played the incompetent foreigner role here very well and got one of the staff to do it as I didn’t want to mess it up. The jajamen therefore became an egg soup called chi-tantan which supposedly mixes everything together into a perfect blend. It was ok but I kind of wish I hadn’t bothered as I was more than happy with the first taste.
Prior to all of that I just about had enough time to see the Morioka Castle Ruins (below) before sunset and given that there isn’t much left it really didn’t take more than a few seconds! This one made previous castle ruins I’d seen in Sendai and so on actually seem impressive!!
Continued on through Morioka Joato Park into the Uchimaru area, I stopped for the aforementioned dinner and then tried to find my hotel. I had made a reservation at Kita Hotel which was on my map app but even though the blue dot was right on a hotel it certainly wasn’t the one I’d booked. As it turned out it was the correct hotel for it has another name (Hotel du Nord) which also basically translates as North Hotel. All very confusing!
Anyway, that was pretty much it for my time in Morioka as the following morning I had to move on up to Hirosaki which is about 150 kilometres further north. There was time for a quick look at the rock breaking cherry tree (below) known as Ishiwarizakura which was just round the corner from my hotel. The tree is approximately 400 years old and as the name suggests it is growing out of a crack in a granite boulder. It survived a fire in 1932 and is a symbol of perseverance and endurance.
It was about a 20 minute walk from there to the station passing over Kaiunbashi Bridge (roughly translated as good luck bridge) which crosses over the Kitakami River. A signboard nearby had a beautiful picture of the scene below with Mount Iwate looking stunning in the distance of the river. Sadly, it was too early in the morning and the wrong season to capture such a splendid view. The banks of the river, lined with seasonal flowers, look like a pleasant place to stroll along but I had a train to catch so didn’t spend too long in the area.
At Morioka Station I took a short train ride from the mysterious platform 0 to Kuriyagawa Station see the huge gas tank which has been decorated to look like a watermelon and unbelievably has its own post on Tokyo Fox.
Click here to read ‘Only In Japan: A Huge Gas Tank Decorated To Look Like A Fruit!’
Click here to read ‘Apple Curry, Hirosaki Castle & An Apt Pun-Based Name For The Local Japanese Idol Group!’