When most people think of "Aomori Prefecture," apples come to mind. Surrounded by three seas, the Sea of Japan, the Tsugaru Straits, and the Pacific Ocean, Aomori Prefecture is also a fishery prefecture, with a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and seaweed landed in abundance. Aomori ranks sixth in the nation in terms of fish catch, and third in inland waters, accounting for 12% of the nation's total catch. Scallop cultivation is particularly active in Mutsu Bay and is distributed throughout the country.
Exquisite seafood (fresh sea urchins)
Sai Village is known for its scenic beauty called "Butsugaura," which consists of white volcanic rock cliffs. In addition to the impact of the strange rock formations, which look like a row of Buddha statues, visitors who look into the sea from the shore are amazed to see several sea urchins at the bottom of the clear ocean. You may be familiar with Nuido Shokudo, famous for its large bowls of sea urchin, but the food at the minshuku is not to be outdone. In addition to the number of plates and the variety of dishes, what catches the eye more than anything else is the heaping pile of sea urchins. You may not often see sea urchins with spines, but the generous arrangement of the sea urchins is something that can only be found in the village of Saimura. The sea urchin alone may be enough to fill you up, but there are also shrimp, turban shells, crabs, scallops, sashimi, and other delicacies from the sea of Aomori Prefecture.
- Fukusu-So（Sai village, Shimokita, Aomori pref.）
This dish is served at a guest house called "Fukujuso" in the village of Sai. Access to Saimura, located on the northern side of the Shimokita Peninsula facing the Tsugaru Straits, is not so easy, but why not take a ferry or rent a car and head for Saimura, a treasure trove of precious and spectacular viewpoints, when traveling in Aomori?
Iwate Prefecture, one of the nation's leading rice-producing areas, has been cultivating rice since the Yayoi period (710-794), but due to cold damage caused by "Yamase" and natural disasters, the rice harvest was not stable. This led to the cultivation of millet, Japanese millet, millet, wheat, soybeans, buckwheat, and other minor grains, which in turn led to the spread of the powdered food culture in Iwate Prefecture. Grains were ground into flour and kneaded to form various types of meals and snacks. In the Iwate language, "kneading" is called "shitoneru. From there, these dishes were called "shitonemono," and a wide variety of "shitonemono" colored people's lives. (from Iwate Prefecture, Tohoku Region | Our Local Cuisine: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) Here are some of Iwate Prefecture's local dishes that originate from the climate of Iwate Prefecture.
Hatto, the soul food of Iwate Prefecture
It is a flour dish made by adding water to wheat flour, kneading it well, aging it, and boiling the thinly spread dough. In modern times, it has been arranged in various flavors, such as curry, Western, Chinese, and dessert, and is loved by people of all ages. At Horoha no Ie, you can enjoy "Hatto" as a home-style dish. The kneaded flour dough is stretched and torn by hand and placed in a pot (right image). The names "Hittsumi" (from "hikitsumamu") and "Totte-nage" seem to derive from this method of cooking.
- Horoha house（Ichinoseki city, Iwate pref.）
This lodging facility is operated as a farmhouse guest house in a renovated 150-year-old house. Many foreign tourists visit the inn and enjoy the atmosphere of the old private house, the sunken hearth, the hospitality of the friendly hosts and their country cooking, including their signature dish "Hatto".
Mamebu-jiru(soup), which became well known after appearing in the popular Japanese TV drama "Amachan," which portrayed ama divers, is a local dish consisting of "mamebu," flour dumplings filled with walnuts, and vegetables simmered in a soy sauce-based soup. Brown sugar is sometimes added to the dumplings, making it a rare soup in which the taste of soy sauce and the sweetness of the brown sugar can be tasted at the same time.
- Mamebu house（Kuji city, Iwate pref.）
This guest house was selected as one of the "100 Best Farming, Forestry, and Fishing Family Guest Houses in Japan. You can enjoy "Kuji Mamebu-jiru" at dinner. Iwate Shorthorn Beef barbecue and hamburgers are also popular. Try the authentic Mamebu-jiru at a guest house in Kuji City, Iwate Prefecture, the setting of "Amachan" (Ama-chan).
Yamanashi Prefecture is part of Japan's metropolitan area, but is surrounded by some of the country's most famous peaks, including Mount Fuji, the Southern Alps, and the Okuchichibu Mountains, with mountainous areas accounting for 80% of its area. Blessed with beautiful mountain streams and spring water, the prefecture is also known as a "natural water reservoir," and Yamanashi Prefecture produces the largest amount of mineral water in Japan.
Yamanashi Prefecture is also the birthplace of wine in Japan. There are about 80 wineries throughout the prefecture, and Koshu wines, made in Yamanashi Prefecture's climate and grape cultivation, are world-renowned.
- Y's village Fukuori (Koshu city, Yamanashi pref.)
Y's village Fukuosato is the perfect facility to enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji and Koshu wine in Yamanashi. Although this facility is a rental villa, there is a winery within a short 5-minute walk and a restaurant catering service for dinner, so you can enjoy the luxurious and extraordinary experience of enjoying restaurant meals and Koshu wine in a high-quality space. Fuji, this is a facility where you can enjoy the charms of Yamanashi with your whole body.
Located in the Minobu mountain range, which straddles southwestern Yamanashi Prefecture and northern Shizuoka Prefecture, Minobu is home to Kuonji Temple, the head temple of Nichiren Buddhism, and is known as one of the three most sacred mountains of Buddhism in Japan. Since Nichiren entered the mountain in the Kamakura period (1185-1333), it has been a sacred place of worship for more than 750 years, and its subsidiary monasteries have served as lodging facilities for group pilgrimages. Even today, 20 monasteries are still open to guests as lodging facilities. Shukubo(monasteries) offer Shojin ryori(vegetarian cuisine). Shojin ryori is a type of food prepared according to Buddhist precepts using only plant foods such as vegetables and grains, and is attracting attention as an ideal diet with excellent nutritional balance and low cholesterol.
- Gyogakuin Kakurinbo（Minobu city, Yamanashi pref.
Kakurinbo offers vegetarian kaiseki cuisine with a modern twist, using locally grown ingredients such as yuba and akebono soybeans, which are a specialty of Minobu.
Niigata Prefecture is famous for its rice production, and rice is the top agricultural product in Japan. The Shinano River, the longest river in Japan, and many other rivers bring fertile soil and abundant water, resulting in rich plains.
Niigata is a region of heavy snowfall, but this snow during the winter provides the water necessary for rice cultivation, and there is also little cold damage and typhoons, meaning that these conditions were ideal for rice cultivation.
Niigata's pride and joy: rice.
Niigata produces unique varieties and brands of rice. In 2021, the number of brands of paddy Uruchi rice was 40, which was the highest in Japan (the national average was 19). You can choose the best variety of rice for your dish. Niigata rice is also a good choice for cooking. In addition, Niigata rice has excellent cooking characteristics. For example, there are many varieties that are close to the best values in terms of the increase rate from the milled weight to the cooked weight, the sweetness and stickiness, and the eating quality over time. It is not just an environment suitable for rice cultivation, but you can feel the efforts and ingenuity of rice farmers to make their rice tasty.
The image shows rice grown in the terraced rice paddies of the nature-rich Yamakoshi region of the farmhouse guest house "Santayu" in Nagaoka City. The rice is grown using only water and rainwater from the mountains, with no domestic wastewater, with as little pesticides as possible, and dried in the sun with great care. Because the rice paddies are located in mountainous areas, the difference in temperature between daytime and nighttime makes the rice even more delicious. /p>
- Farmer's guest house Yamakoshi Hyakushoya Sandayu(Nagaoka city, Niitaga pref.)
Yamakoshi Hyakushoya Sandayu, a farmhouse guest house in Yamakoshi, which is said to be "a village where the original landscape of Japan remains," boasts creative country cooking using seasonal vegetables and rice grown in the rich nature. The menu offers not only rice from terraced rice paddies, but also vegetables and wild vegetables in pursuit of their potential.
The Nara Basin is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Until the capital was moved to Heian-kyo, most of Japan's palace capitals were located here. Reflecting this long history, there are numerous cultural heritage sites, including shrines, temples, ancient tombs, and mausoleums. Many of the trees in the precincts of these temples and surrounding areas have been protected and remain as natural forests.
This area, which flourished as the center of Japan and was praised as the "Mahoroba of the country" more than 1,000 years ago, is now home to rich nature and tranquil rural scenery that changes with the seasons.
Yakuzen (Medicinal Cuisine)
Satoyama Library is a renovated thatched old house in Nara that operates a "Yakuzen Homestay" facility.
"Yakuzen cuisine is a cooking method that combines dietary therapy and is based on the basic theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)," according to the website of the Japanese Society of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Dietetics, He has learned the wisdom of preserving food and using plants, and opened a yakuzen homestay in an old private house in Nara, Japan.
The hosts of "Satoyama Library" incorporate their knowledge of medicinal herbs and fermentation into their menu, which is composed of local seasonal ingredients.
- Satoyama Library（Tenri city, Nara pref.）
Running north to south along the eastern edge of the Nara Basin is the Yamanobe Road, which is said to be the "oldest road in Japan." According to descriptions in the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan), the road is thought to have already been established in the 4th century, and it is assumed to have already existed in the late Yayoi Period. The road, along which many ancient tombs remain, has become a popular hiking course in modern times, and invites visitors to enjoy the romance of the ancient times.
Satoyama Library is an old private house inn located near the Yamanobe Road. The garden is filled with seasonal plants, and plants are incorporated into daily life through edible flowers and medicinal teas. They hope to pass on the wisdom of making food, plants, and daily life.
Compared to the rest of Japan, Hiroshima Prefecture is mountainous and most of its land is covered with forests. While the variety of animals that inhabit the prefecture is diverse, it has also suffered from damage to crops caused by wild animals such as wild boars and deer. In response, an attempt has begun to provide safe, secure, and high-quality gibier meat from exterminated wild animals.
There is a brand of wild boar meat in Higashi Hiroshima City called "Sakae-niku," which has a reputation for being tender with no odor, and the number of supermarkets and restaurants handling it has increased rapidly. The city also offers subsidies for the development of new regular menus using local ingredients, including Sakae-niku. Located in the middle of the Chugoku Mountains, Shobara City is one of the most forested and nature-rich areas in Hiroshima Prefecture. Shobara's gibier workshop has obtained certification for domestic gibier and continues its efforts to provide safe and reliable gibier.
Wild boar hot pot
Wild boar meat, which is similar to pork in meat quality and taste, has long been used as a nabe dish. One of Hyogo Prefecture's local dishes is botan nabe. The nabe in the photo is a wild boar hot pot available at "Hyakushoan Bou" in Shobara City. You can taste wild boar as an old-fashioned country dish.
- Hyakushoan Bo（Shobara city, Hiroshima pref.）
This is an experience farmer's inn in Shobara City. As a farmer, they have been dealing with rice, vegetables, and mushrooms for generations. In this 130-year-old house, you can experience a self-sufficient lifestyle in the rich nature where insects, wild birds, and mountain wildlife live together. Enjoy country cooking unique to Shobara's rich nature, such as wild boar stew using wild boar meat and river fish from the nearby mountains.