On my last day in Aomori, I left the hotel in the early morning after a hotel breakfast buffet of rice, miso soup, pasta…and of course generous helpings of toast with Aomori’s famous pink apple jam and apple juice. Then we got started on the long drive back home.
Along the way, we stopped a few times to refuel and pick up some snacks. A traditional snack in Aomori is a type of cracker/cookie called nambu sembei, so we of course had to load up on those. Nowadays, you can buy them pretty much all across Japan, but the variety is very limited compared to what you can find in Aomori. The store we went to had one whole aisle filled with them!
Most traditional Japanese crackers (sembei) are made with rice, but nambu sembei are actually made with wheat flour. The two most standard flavours are black sesame and peanut (the peanut ones are my personal favorite), but we also bought some unusual varieties like chili pepper.
Another neat snack that we got were these old school traditional rice puff treats. They look similar to a rice Krispie square, but they’re made with puffed brown rice and coated in molasses. As soon as I had my first bite I realized that the taste was oddly familiar…and then it struck me. They taste exactly like Kashi cereal!!
During the drive back, we also made one more random stop at a little store that sells all types of clothing and gear for construction workers. One of the many quirky, fun things about Japan is that the construction workers there dress completely differently from in North America. They wear pants made out of thick fabric, which are super baggy and then tight around the shins and ankles. They endearingly refer to them as knickerbockers (or, nikka-bokkaa in Japanese pronunciation!). They look cool…almost like ninjas!
Another important part of the outfit is the jika-tabi. These are the long, tight boots that they wear, with flexible rubber soles and a separation between the toes. These boots help them keep their balance and stay alert to the ground around them. I tried on a pair. They were surprisingly comfortable! Honest!