Exploring Hachinohe-Squid City

Hachinohe is the nearest big city to where we are living.  Now, the actually town where the base is has a population around the size of the entire island we just left, and is probably the same size around as the whole island, so it seems like a major city right here.  But it's not.  It's also considered a rural area.  Trust me, you are not in the middle of nowhere if you have fast food (the island had NONE!  except the Subway on the base of course). 

Who the heck needs fast food when you have access to all this!  These first pictures are from the fish market in Hachinohe.  Actually, it is more than a fish market, but most of it is fish and seafood (even the weird ones).  In fact, Hachinohe is known as squid city.  It supplies the majority of the squid used in Japan.  This market also has a food court, like a mall, and other little shops.  I love that the base takes these tours out because we felt comfortable enough to come back here the following weekend.

Take a look at all the cool things I found.  If I can remember what the picture is of (we had a Japanese guide to help us and translate), I will let you know.  Some things I never found out exactly what they were.

I loved that you could sample here.  Of course you had to use chopsticks to grab your sample, but you could still have a sample.
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Crazy looking fish.  I think these are actually the same kind of fish.
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I can't even begin to figure this one out, but I am guessing they eat these little lizard looking things.  YUCK! (in my opinion)
Do you know what's in here?
If you guessed SCALLOP you are correct!

Some shrimp:
All kinds of crabs:
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More fish:
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Squid, both already cut up and then whole.
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Any ideas what this might be:
This is a sea pineapple.  I had to ask on this one because it looked so cool.

This lady was working on a massive tuna.  She was cutting it up for sushi use.
Here you can see the raw fish comes ready to eat (pre-sliced) from the market.  This is known as sashimi (which I know many of you know about because sushi places are so common in the US now).
More fish
Octopus!  This is with a flopped head.  I only know about head flopping (I love to say that) because we lived on the island.  Basically you flip the head inside out to kill it. 
More crabs!  Look at those guys.  WOW!
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More scallops and more fish.
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This was so awesome.  He is filling these little molds with pancake batter.  The molds are shaped like fish.  Inside goes red bean paste or custard.  After a sample, I was hooked.
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We bought some of each...and ate them very quickly.
I love how cute everything looks here. 
They sell lots of little prepackaged gourmet looking cakes and cookies.
After the fish market we were taken to see the train station so we would know how to take the bullet train to Tokyo.  Attached was a little shopping area.  The tour guide explained to us about the floats since there was one on display here.  They are very elaborate and tell a story.  They have pieces that open up and fold out, and each level is another part of the story.
This was too funny not to take a picture of.  They have monkeys up where we are (not like running in our neighbor hoods, but I am guessing in certain areas nearby) and they are mean little monkeys.  So I thought this was a nice mean looking display of the little guy.
Here is the display from the front.
Next up we went to a Shinto Shrine.  This was really neat.  The Japanese tour guides taught us the proper protocol for washing before entering all the way to the front where you make your wish.
Here is the washing station.  It is very complex and involves quite a few steps for purifying yourself to enter.  Shinto is a religion based on nature.  I thought it was interesting to learn it does not conflict with Buddhism, which is the primary religion here, so someone could be Buddhist and practice some Shinto traditions.  I look forward to learning more about this.  I took a class in Japanese and Chinese religions in my undergrad program and it is neat now to see how these really are practiced.
After purifying, you have to enter the shrine through the middle on the bridge.
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Here we are approaching the main entrance to the building.  Here you have another set of steps to do in order to properly ring the bells and make your prayer (or wish).
Then you may enter.  Unlike the Buddhist temple, you could take pictures inside here.
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Then we spent some time walking around the grounds outside.  Very cool looking.
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These are so cute.  I see them everywhere now so I am planning to find out more about these.
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I am also unsure about these.  Maybe someone just thought it was cute to dress these statues up, or maybe it really means something, but either way, they were really cute.
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These red gates here are called Torii gates and they are the type of gates used in Shinto shrines, but seen many other places as well (on the base too).
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Here is a close up of the purifying station before entering, and the pond just behind it.
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Last stop for the day was for lunch.  We went to the Lapia Mall.  Yay, a mall!  It is so nice to have a mall around.  Malls here are a little different than the US.  Usually there is a full grocery store inside.  Plus, I love all the different food options to look at.
There are bakeries galore around here.  Look at all the goodies!
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Seriously...how cute are these?!?!
The sushi looked amazing!
These are the donuts from Mr. Donut.  They are too cute.  We decided to buy one each to eat after lunch.
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Speaking of lunch, we both got sushi.
From left to right, my lunch included: tuna, scallop, raw shrimp, squid, cooked shrimp, egg, cucumber, and daikon, which is a giant white radish, and by giant I mean it can pass as a deadly weapon.  All of the sushi was amazing.  I even managed to eat it all with chopsticks.  I am starting to get good...finally!

This mall features a giant arcade complete with a little roller coaster.  I was just impressed with the ice cream vending machine.
But after looking at it in amazement, I entered to check out the craziness that was inside.  Here you can see the track for the roller coaster.
We still had a little time, so we checked out the grocery stores.  I loved looking at all the mushrooms.
The grapes here look good too.
Any idea what this is?
If you guessed Dragonfruit, you are correct!

Well, that was it for the tour of Hachinohe.  Later that night we attended the major festival for the town where the base it located, and the parade went right past the base so it was easy to get to.  My next post will cover the festival, with the amazing floats and insane Japanese street foods.

QUESTIONS:  Did you know what kind of shell scallops come in?  Have you ever seen or tried a dragon fruit?  Do you like squid?