Tag Archives: Japanese Cuisine

2012 Shizuoka Festival Food Stands and Dancers!

Cute lady selling dango/団子!

The last three days saw the annual Shizuoka Festival which was held all over town.
It is slowly becoming better organized thanks to contributions from the whole Prefecture and volunteer citizens, although the city and authorities do very little…
Anyway yesterday, a beautiful Sunday, I took the opportunity to take a few (a lot actually) pictures to show you all what a local (in Shizuoka City) festival looks like!

I first went to the Sumpu Castle (a 2/3 scale copy of the original) and Sumpu Park!

The entrance to the main “square” where most of the food stands were located.

The map of the whole park!

A small traditional band manned by physically-impaired children!

Tough-looking girls on the Japanese drums!

Drummers start young in Japan!

Unimpressive and idle Shizuoka policemen…
Shizuoka policemen (actually traffic wardens in spite of their guns and plates…) are notorious as a lazy breed…

Now, what is that castle for?

A giant air cushion for kids to play on!

Fancy a tour with a “jinrikisha”?

Some people also call this Festival the “Shizuoka Spring Cherry Blossoms festival”!

These knee-high stockings are very much in fashion this year!

Plenty of food and drinks under the cherry trees! Ever heard of “Hanami/花見”?

Bento stand!

Japanese-style country food!

Yomogi wagashi Japanese cakes!

Shizuoka Oden!

Tsubuan Manju!

Shizuoka-style okonomiyaki!

Floating balls for the kids!

Try your luck!

Shizuoka specialties: dried sakura ebi/cherry shrimp and shirasu/sardine whiting!

A treat that kids all over the world look for!

More Shizuoka Oden!

Very well organized event with many public dustbins!

Kimonos are still very much in fashion!

A whole range of fancy okonmiyaki!

Japanese-style soft ice creams!

Korean-style karaage/deep-fried chicken!

Preparing o mochi and kinako wagashi cakes!

More okonomiyaki!

No, they are not selling kangaroo meat!

Shizuoka is strawberry country!

The Japanese too love their hamburgers!

Yakisoba!

Famous Shizuoka’s Hatsukame sake!

Takoyaki/Octopus dumplings!
I took a break to enjoy some with a cup of the above sake!

Charcoal-grilled ayame and ayu trouts!

Dango/団子!

Hiroshima-style Suwaganiten and nigiriten!

Utsunomiya gyoza!

Japanese-style corn on the cob!

Mini okonomiyaki?

More Shizuoka-style oonomiyaki!

Sausages!

Giant Sasebo (Kyushu) hamburgers!

Yakitori and oden!

“Love and Peace Ice Cream”!

I finally moved out to a quick look at Aoba Park Street where the kids were having on giant air cushions!

Right in front of the city hall! I suspect that many a civil servant’s kid was there!

And then I walked and made myself a nuisance taking pics of dancing groups in the middle of the main thoroughfare!

Sexy dancers! Sorry for the fuzzy pic, I was not really looking at my camera….

Mothers and kids waiting for their turn!

The Japanese love to be taken in photographs but the setting sun was a bit of a nuisance!

Is that a gentleman in the middle?

My personal first prize for colorful costumes!

The last pic!

Looking for and forward to the next local festival!

Dekopon Oranges Producer in Shizuoka City: Nobuhiko Onuma

Nobuhiko Onuma/小沼宣彦 between his daughter/睦代, and wife, Yoshiko/良子!

Dekopon (デコポン?) is a seedless and very sweet citrus fruit, a hybrid between Kiyomi and ponkan (Nakano no.3), developed in Japan in 1972 starting from Kyushu Island. Originally a brand name, Dekopon has become a genericized trademark and it is used to refer to all brands of the fruit; the generic name is shiranuhi or shiranui (不知火). Dekopon is distinctive due to its sweet taste, large size and the large protruding bump on the top of the fruit.
Shizuoka prefecture has become a major producer thanks to its ideal climate.

Okitsu Mountains under a glaring sun.

I recently had the chance to make a new friend, Ms. Chikayo Onuma working as a nurse at the Shizuoka Children’s Hospital, whose parents are producers of Dekopon and other oranges in Okitsu, Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!
Her parents were very kind to accept this foreign resident to visit and interview them!
Okitsu in Shizuoka Prefecture is nationally famous for its citrus fruits thanks to an ideal sun exposure and wide differeneces of temperature between day and night contributing to an extarordinary sweetness of the fruit.

Unfortunately the picking season was finished but we still had a lot to talk about before moving to the ozawa’s home to have a look at their crops.
Mr. Onuma produces an annual crop of 3,000 kg of Dekopon, 1,000 kg of Aoshima (Aoshima Shutarou) Oranges, as well as Kiyomi and Suruga Elegant varieties.

A typical farmhouse in Shizuoka Prefecture!

Mr. Onuma sells some of his crop through the JA but mostly deals with a network of private customers and accepts orders through the phone/fax as long as there are any fruit left. You had better hurry as they will disappear soon!

Mr. Onuma was kind enough to prepare an explanation of the cultivation for my perusal:
May: Flowering
July~August: Pruning and thinning the trees to keep only the best fruit. A neck braking work!
From August: regular watering
About the 20th of November: Each fruit is individually protected with a paper bag. More neck-breaking work!
From Januray 20th: Harvesting.

But the work is far from being finished as I will explain later!

Moreover, fungicide has to be spread 12 times a year.
Mr. Onuma told me that he keeps any such fungicide to a minimum and does not use any other agrichemicals.

More work is to come as the fruit will be stored in a dark cool shed to mature.
The fruit must attain a level of 13 on the official sweetness scale before they may be called Dekopon.
Mr. Onuma’s crop of Dekpon has been awarded the special appelation of shiranuhi (不知火) by the Prefecture, as a sure mark of its excellence!

Mr. Ozawa’ shiranuhi have even been prized in spite of the fierce competition!

Even Japanese nationals will be hard pressed to pronounce the Kanji for shiranuhi (不知火) properly!

Temperature inside the shed is strictly regulated!

And the place is also kept dark at all times!

Moreover, each fruit has to be individually wrapped in an open vinyl pouch!
I can’t start to imagine all the work and time spent!

Not to mention all the back-breaking work carrying 10 kg trays out and preparing orders!

Mr. Ozawa’s dekopon in my bento!

All this to make sure that all the fruit reach customers in the perfect state!
Thank you so much, Mr. Ozawa!

Nobuhiko Onuma/小沼宣彦, Dekopon and ornages producer
424-Shizuoka City, Shimizu Ku, Okitsu Inoue Machi, 177
424-0202静岡市清水区興津井上町177
Tel./Fax: 054-369-2670

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India
Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London
Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Shizuoka (& Japanese) Gastronomy: Sushi & Sashimi – Eat Local!

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Saurel pike/Aji from Suruga Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture

Very few people will disagree with the notion that Japan is the ideal place to discover and savour sushi and sashimi in the whole world. Nevertheless, there are a few rules of the thumb to respect, even in this gastronomic paradise.
The overriding rule is that you should try and eat only local fish or seafood.
Tsukiji might be considered a sushi paradise by Tokyoites (it has or will be moved to another location), but the cheap prices enjoyed by tourists cannot conceal the reality: the fish and seafood are “imported” from all over Japan and beyond!
More than often, Edomae (Tokyo) sushi is nothing but a clever way to “dress up” ingredients to lure officionados (and customers) into believing they are eating top quality sushi (with the consequent prices).
Now, if you have the chance and time to explore Japan beyond Tokyo, you will discover an unfathomable treasure trove of gastronomic pleasure and knowledge!
After all, this country is a vast archipelago stretched across greatly different seas and climates, making for a diversity difficult to equal.
So, even if you cannot possibly explore all the shores of this nation, make a point to learn about the food available wherever you choose to stay.
The same goes for residents, not only for their own sake, but for that of their visitors and friends!

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Sushi set with fish all caught in Suruga Bay, Shizuoka Prefecture

You also ought to do some homework. Sushi chefs worthy of their salt will be only too happy to answer questions to genuinely interested customers and come up with revelations of their own.
As an example to illustrate the need for some basic knowledge, in Hokkaido “oyakodon” (“parent and child”) is not cooked chicken and omelette on a bowl of rice, but raw salmon and its roe spread on top the same bowl of rice!
Likewise, the same fish will more than often be sold under a myriad of names.
Many morsels will not be found anywhere else suc as “sakura ebi/cherry shrimps” and fresh”shirasu/sardine whiting” in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Sashimi in most cases has to be perfectly fresh as typified by “kubiore saba” in Yakushima Island where fishermen break the neck (“kubiore”) of mackerels (“saba”) to preserve their quality upon catching. The same fish will be served within a few hours, or less, on the local tables.
On the other hand, tuna sashimi is best consumed first thawed and then ripened for a few days in a refrigerator.
In Hokkaido, large shrimps, especially “botan ebi” will be served only raw, whereas “kuruma ebi” will be first boiled in other regions.

If you ask for “tataki”, make sure it means the whole fish, especially “aji/mackerel pike” that will be served finely cut as tartare atop the dressed fish. And if the fish is really fresh such small and medium fish will have their bones and heads served deep-fried for a beautiful crispy snack!

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Flying Fish/Tobiuo sashimi from Yakushima Island

On the other hand, sushi follows different rules.
Fish and seafood placed on “donburi” (bowl) are usually of the freshly brought variety but fish served as nigiri is prepared in a different way.
The greatest sushi (and this cannot be done in Tsukiji!) are made with fish which has been gutted and cleaned live within seconds, then dressed into strips/fillets left to mature in a refrigerator on clean cloth/kitchen paper. This can be done only with fish caught locally!
The same obviously goes with shellfish and other marine ceatures: One cannot sample better “uni/sea urchin” away from Hokkaido or sakura ebi from Shizuoka.

Vegan and vegetarians, upon finding a restaurant willing to satisfy their priorities should also ask for food grown locally, a search easier than one might think at first as there are many non-meat eaters in this mainly Buddhist country.
The same vegetables will make for the perfect combination when associated with local fish!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India
Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London
Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery