The Tea of Life

For centuries, people have been searching for the secret to a longer life. Who knew that all they needed was to take a trip to Aomori?

On the Kayano Plateau in Towada-Hachimantai National Park, just 40 minutes from Aomori city centre, lies the Kayano Tea House. Outside you will find a teapot surrounded by teacups. There is also running water available to wash your cup before and after drinking. The tea is free of charge, so feel free to help yourself!

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The tea house is quaint and nicely situated in a quiet corner of the National Park.

But that’s not even the best part. Apparently, this tea will make you live longer! It’s called tsurukamecha, which literally means crane and tortoise tea. Don’t worry; it’s not made from cranes and tortoises! The reason behind the name is that both creatures live for thousands or even tens of thousands of years, according to Japanese tradition. A plaque above the tea station explains; if you drink one cup of this tea you will live for an extra 3 years, if you drink two cups you will live for an extra 6 years, and if you drink three cups, surprisingly, you will live until you die.

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A sign advertising the tea, with the explanation in the background.

“You will live until you die”? Is this the philosophical pondering of wiser folk than us? Perhaps telling us to stop counting the years and simply live our lives? Or, alternatively, is it an example of Japanese wit, reminding us that it is, after all, only tea? An interesting question to ponder as you sip from your teacup.

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Dainty tea cups lined up ready for use.

If the question; “where am I going to eat?” is more pressing for you, not to worry; the tea shop also has a restaurant with Aomori’s special Ginger Miso Oden stew, as well as other delicious meals, and the ever-important souvenirs. There is also plenty of space to have a picnic if you bring your own food; just pick a spot away from the kite-flyers and people practicing sports.

As a bonus, there are beautiful views on the way up to (and down from) the plateau. A relaxing way to spend some time near Aomori.

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