はちみつ村 (Restaurant-Morioka, Iwate)

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Are you craving some delicious and homey food that will just hit the spot?  Then this would be the right place for you!  はちみつ村 or “Honey Town” is a restaurant, honey shop, and ice cream shop all in one!  They serve bowls of yummy soup that contains healthy vegetables and chicken.  In the soup, you can choose to have dumplings or noodles that have honey mixed into the dough.  After the famous Ama-chan drama in Kuji, they have included mamebu, dumpling balls filled with honeyed walnuts.  You can also eat reimen, one of the three famous noodles in Morioka.  The food is delicious and cheap!  While you wait, you can go and try out all the different kinds of honey!  Check it out when you’re in Morioka area!

TEL 019-623-7073
TIMES 10:00 – 19:00
(Holidays: Mondays)
Address: 岩手県盛岡市若園町 3-10 
(Wakasonocho 3-10, Morioka, Iwate)
It’s a 30-minute walk from Morioka Station and a 10-minute walk from Morioka Park.

Printemps Blanc (Cafe-Morioka, Iwate)

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PB, or Printemps Blanc, is a new cafe and cake shop that opened this year in 2013.  It’s children friendly, vegetarian friendly, and now meat friendly!!  Just the other day, I went to PB for lunch and I found out that they added new dishes, two that includes meat and seafood.  Everything is fresh, healthy, and delicious, especially the melt-in-your mouth dessert!  There are also great selections of smoothies (I recommend the blueberry lemonade), tea, coffee, latte, and others.  Plus, there are plenty of seats for customers to choose, plenty of parking, and even a play area for kids!  It’s a bit far from the station, but it’s a nice walk pass Odori Street, Morioka Park, and the river.  If you’re looking for an everything-friendly restaurant, go check out PB!

Note: You have to order first before you sit, and make sure you put your tray away!

Printemps Blanc (プランタン ブラン)
TEL 090-613-8220
TIMES 10:00 -19:00
(Holidays: first and third Wednesday of every month) Address:岩手県盛岡市南大通2-9-2
(Minami Odori 2-9-2, Morioka, Iwate)
It’s about 25 minutes from Morioka Station and less than 15 minutes from Morioka Park.



Mt. Iwate Climb

Hi guys, Ian here!

So this past Sunday, a number of Iwate JETs, along with other members of the foreign community in Iwate and a number of Japanese, decided to climb Mt. Iwate together.

We met at 6 a.m. in the Yakihashiri car park, and waited for a sudden and surprisingly rough rain to pass. The weather forecast had consistently predicted clear skies that day. By about 7 the rain had stopped and we began to climb. It was my second time climbing the mountain (the first being last October), and we were taking a different route than the one I remembered. Other JETs who had made the climb two years ago told me that they had also not taken the Yakihashiri route that time.

It was an unusually windy day on the mountain, and although the sky was mostly clear and sunny, what clouds there were ran across the sky like reindeer. I and a few others stayed at the cabin rather than risk the last trek to the summit, as the wind was especially strong near the top of the mountain.

It was also the first frost, with the upper part of the mountain growing very cold and covered in a light layer of snow, although as late as the previous day the snow had not been there.

An unofficial account of the climb, along with a tanka I composed to commemorate the occasion, can be found on my blog here.

Overall, the day was a tremendous success. Thank you very much to Michael for organizing the whole thing (as well as the AJET Welcome Party in Sundance afterward), and to all the people who volunteered their cars for the trip there and back.

More updates, hopefully, coming soon.

~~ Ian Suttle ~~

Welcome JETs 2013

Hello to all of the new JETs placed in Iwate for 2013! We here in Iwate are looking forward to meeting you as you start your new life in “Rock Hand” Prefecture, as we call it. Well, just me. Only I call it that.

Anyway! I’m sure you have many questions regarding coming as a JET to live in Japan, so please have a look through our “Life in Iwate” section for info. Be forewarned, much of that information is slightly out-of-date. However, first contact should be made by your school or Board of Education, so we ask you to refrain from contacting them, the PAs, or your predecessor before all of the proper steps are taken. This is to help avoid the spread of misinformation.

Once you arrive in Japan, you’ll go through a whirlwind of orientation sessions in Tokyo and Iwate before going to your placement. We can’t wait to see you! Good luck.


Hello to New JETs 2012

Hello all new JETs of 2012! Hope you’re gearing up for your new adventure in Iwate Prefecture. Some (a lot) of the information on these pages is a bit out of date and nothing’s organized very well, but I do hope to clean up the website at some point. In the meantime, there are some useful gems hidden in these pages, so have a look!

If you have any questions regarding your life in Iwate, please contact your predecessor. I know you’re going to have a great time here in Rock-Hand Prefecture, and I can’t wait to meet you!


Wine and Steak “otsu-tey”

Tired of Japanese-style izakaya? Really craving some good steak and have no idea where to get it in Japan? Or do you just enjoy a really good glass of wine every now and again? Try out Otsu-tey, a small little wine bar near Iwate Castle Park. All of their food is European-inspired, and the decor is very western-looking, so this place is quite unique among Morioka’s many Showa-style izakaya-type establishments.

I’d have to say the best thing on their menu is their steak. It’s not a huge cut of meat, but it’s prepared perfectly (if on the rare side, so if you like your meat well-done, be sure to say so!). The waitress adds some alcohol to the still-sizzling hot plate in front of you, which sparks a short, crowd-pleasing flame. Their baked cheesecake is pretty good too, though it’s more savory than sweet. They also have many seafood options as well!

Want some home-style steak and potatoes? Look no further than Otsu-tey.

盛岡WINE食道 乙亭 Otsu-tey
Dinner: 17:00-1:00
TEL 019-626-5530
Near Iwate Castle Park, behind the Daiso 100-yen Shop
(Iwate-ken, Morioka-shi, Odori 1-5-19)

Spaghetti and Omelet-rice “Bistro Biya”

Bistro Biya is an Italian-inspired restaurant on Odori Street with a European cafe-style decor. I’ve been there for both lunch and dinner, and I’ve never been disappointed. There are better Italian restaurants in the city, but for the price and convenience, Bistro Biya can’t be beat. You can also get crepes from the side window facing the street, and three karaoke places are within five paces, so it’s a great place to hold a nomikai (and AJET has done just that a few times!)

If you can get there for lunch, they have a salad bar with all the fixings free with your meal. I particularly like their omelet-rice (omuraisu) dish, as well as their sweet potato and kabocha fries. The spaghetti meals are good too, with a variety of both Italian and Japanese-style dishes. They also have a breezy soundtrack running, with covers of lots of pop hits. It’s kinda cheesy, but kinda cute at the same time.

In the summer they open up their front porch so you can sit outside. A great little place to have lunch!

ビストロ麦家 Bistro Biya
Lunch: 11:30-15:00 on Tuesdays through Fridays, 11:30-16:30 on Sat/Sun, no lunch on Mondays
Dinner: 17:00-01:30 on Mondays through Thursdays, 17:00-03:00 on Fridays and Saturdays, 17:00-23:00 on Sundays
TEL 019-622-5773
On Odori Street, a few minutes walk from Morioka Castle Park, Karaoke-kan, and Daiso 100 Yen Shop
岩手県盛岡市大通1-9-5 サンシャインビル 1F
(Iwate-ken, Morioka-shi, Odori 1-9-5, Sunshine Building 1F)

Tokyo Orientation in Summer 2012

For JETs recontracting for the 2012-2013 year:

Want to help out at Tokyo Orientation and introduce new JETs to their new lives in Japan? Apply to be a TOA at Summer Orientation 2012! You can be a TOA at Orientation A, B, or C.

TOAs will be asked to assist with the following tasks:

  • Present CLAIR or MEXT workshops and be part of panel discussions (selected TOAs only)
  • Present AJET workshops (selected TOAs only)
  • Guide new JET participants through Narita Airport or the orientation venue, assist with luggage, answer questions, etc.
  • Staff the 24-hour Hospitality Centre and Information Desk during the Orientation
  • Attend Embassy Welcome Events (selected TOAs only)
  • Accompany new JET participants to their host prefectures/designated cities as requested by individual prefectures.
  • Any other duties deemed necessary by CLAIR

The deadline is March 7, 2012. Please hand in filled out applications to your supervisor by that date. You should have received the application from your supervisors by now, but if now, please let the PAs know and we can forward you the application.

Any questions about TOA can be referred to the PCs at CLAIR at jettoa@gmail.com

Classic Chinese Cooking “Mangekyou”

 We had a work party to celebrate both the achievements of our division of late, and to ward off the cold, and since we usually go to Japanese-style izakaya places, our party planner decided to go with Chinese food this time. She picked a place called 萬花京 Mangekyou, which is a quick walk from Kawatoku Department Store, above a eyeglasses shop.

Usually when I have Chinese food in Japan, it’s a) ramen or b) gyoza, so it’s rare to get to go to a nice, sit-down Chinese restaurant (well, it’s rare to see more than delivery Chinese back in the states…). It was pretty good food, and some interesting Chinese drinks – we go to try some shoukoushu, or Shaoxing wine, which was a very sweet plum wine similar to umeshu (Japanese plum wine). We were recommended to put an actual dried plum in the glass which really brought out the flavor.

Our Chinese CIR said this was the best Chinese food she’s had while in Japan, so you heard it here folks. Give it a try the next time you’re craving Chinese food!

萬花京 Mangekyou
Lunch: 11:30-14:00, Dinner: 17:30-21:30
TEL 019-604-6611
Closed every Monday
One minute walk from Kawatoku Department Store, behind Starbucks
岩手県盛岡市菜園1-6-13 ベルトリービル2階
(Iwate-ken, Morioka-shi, Saien 1-6-13, Belltree Building 2F)

Valentine’s Day in Japan – just as commercialized as back home!

Credit to JustHungry.com

As I’m sure you already know, Valentine’s Day is a little bit different to what you’re used to back home. Here, instead of boyfriends giving their girlfriends flowers and chocolate and taking them out for dinner, women give chocolate to men (most of whom don’t even eat chocolate) in descending order of “lover” all the way down to “acquaintance at work.” In this way, it really does resemble elementary school, where you had to make Valentine’s Day cards for everyone in class but you secretly gave the biggest, best one, with Bugs Bunny on it, to your Crush named Evan. Oh wait, maybe that was just me.

There are two main types of chocolate: honmei choco (本命チョコ) and giri choco (義理チョコ). Honmei is what girls give to their boyfriend/husband, and is ideally homemade and heartfelt. There’s a classic trope of a high school girl making chocolates for her crush in high school and giving it to him as a way of confessing her feelings. Then there’s giri, which means obligatory – this is the chocolate that ladies give to male friends and coworkers. As a JET, this may be something you participate in. In my case, a female worker in the office will gather money from all the other women and buy the appropriate number of boxes. I also tried to participate in the honmei choco tradition once, but I got too nervous and threw the box away before I gave it to the guy. Well, please try to learn from my mistakes.

This may seem very one-sided, but rest assured the Japanese confectionery companies made a special corresponding holiday on March 14 where the men return the favor called White Day. They often spend three times as much as the gift they themselves received, or at least that’s the custom. I have never received a 3000 yen box of chocolates, but shoot for the stars, guys. In related news, March 14 is now gaining favor in America as a corresponding holiday to Valentine’s Day, but I can’t print that name here.

The good thing is that Valentine’s Day ends up being about all the men in your life, not just one, so there’s not as much pressure to be partnered up. The bad thing is that that expectation has been moved to Christmas Eve – but most of us are home during that time so I suppose it’s no big deal ^^

Valentine’s Day in Japan (wikipedia)
Valentine’s Day and White Day