28 hours in Aomori

Yesterday I got on a plane for the first time since September 2019. I flew north to Aomori for work with Rob and CCJC.

I was called in at the last minute to assist on a video shoot for the launch of Coca Cola’s new Ayataka tea products. My key task was driving, but I also did some shooting and equipment wrangling with Rob.

Driving the massive seven seat Toyota Noah was interesting. Aside from being very large, it had lots of driving features like lane detection, proximity warnings (which sounded frantically but were not useful at all when I got wedged in a parking garage), and weirdly, news headlines that popped up on the navi display at random intervals.

I drove 153 km all over Aomori. Aside from the parking garage – oh how I hate them – the trip was safe and stress-free.

It was also my first time back in a business hotel in quite a while. Because we had to be at the client office at 8 am Monday, Rob and I flew in and stayed overnight on Sunday at Hotel Aomori. It is a classic with the original (now retro) styling and it seemed popular with foreign tour groups – there were a lot of Australians at breakfast on Monday.

Aomori’s city center restaurants are almost all closed on Sunday night, but we got a recommendation from one of the restauranteurs who was finishing service when we walked in, and eventually enjoyed a feast at Ooban Koban that included dishes way bigger than they appeared on the menu, including a Caesar salad with colorful freeze-dried veg croutons. We waddled back to the hotel, full of katsu-ni, fish, fried potatoes, and also stinking of tobacco. A lot of people in Aomori still smoke cigarettes. How odd.

Aomori is a beautiful place. There is a harbour, a vast plain and big skies, with distant snowcapped peaks that reminded me of the Himalayas. Mount Iwaki rises majestically over the whole area.

And wow, does it have pretty parks.

We did a quick lunchtime shoot at Hirosaki Castle Park where the sakura were glorious. It was one of the prettiest, postcard-iest scenes I have ever encountered.

After our final location shoot at a supermarket on the north end of town, we had a couple of hours before our flight. Rob found us an extraordinary park full of interesting trees, birds, and a lake all made more beautiful by golden hour light. What a way to wind up a long day!

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.