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Japan Hour

It's Lunch Time

This week, our search for delicious food first takes us to Etajima City in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is known for its oysters so we head to a shop called the Oyster Hut.

During the oyster harvesting season, it offers an all-you-can-eat oyster feast which lasts for 70 minutes. After getting our fill of this delicacy, we go to Kadobayashi Fisheries. The staff are cleaning oysters by removing the barnacles by hand, before the oysters are shipped. They handle about 3,000 oysters per day.

We speak to Kyouhei Kadobayashi, a second-generation oyster fisherman. He shows us some baby oysters. We learn that it takes between one and three years for them mature. Etajima is surrounded by mountains. Many minerals flow down from the mountains and there is a lot of plankton for the oysters to feed on. This is why oysters from Etajima are known to be large.

Mrs Megumi Kadobayashi then shows us how the oysters are processed. The oysters are opened by hand using shell removers. The process of removing oyster shells is done from 5am to 4pm daily. Each person processes 30kg of oysters per day and these shucked oysters are very popular.

The Kadobayashis agree to let us see what they are having for dinner. We go to their house, where Mrs Kadobayashi prepares the meal with their daughter Yumi. The first thing they do is to rinse the oysters with water before making oyster tempura. Salt is added in the batter and sesame oil is used to make the tempura. For the next dish, oysters are stir-fried and then cooked with rice and broth. Soy sauce and chilli pepper are used for flavouring. There is also oyster soup; the oysters are taken out before the water boils so that the meat does not shrink. The oyster soup with Chinese cabbage, radish, carrots and miso is ready after soy sauce and sugar are added.

Mr Kadobayashi, meanwhile, makes spicy oysters boiled down in soy sauce. He mixes soy sauce, sake, brown soft sugar, chilli pepper and broad bean chilli paste to make tsukudani. After this, he uses the tsukudani to make another dish, an oyster omelette which includes chopped green onions and cheese.

Our next trip takes us to Tochigi Prefecture. This time, we visit a station with an unusual name, Omochanomachi, which means “toy town”. It is located along the Tobu Utsunomiya Line. We are keen to find out the story behind the name, so we ask a resident. She tells us that in the past, many toy manufacturing companies such as Tomy, Bandai and Epoch had their offices in this area. 

We walk around the town and meet a family of five. Atsushi Kumekawa, 29, has three children - Rua, Hibito and Rikuto. He is currently remodelling his car, which he calls his “toy”. He actually makes cars that race on a circuit. He tells us it costs nearly a million yen to remodel a car. He has loved cars since he was six years old. He learned how to tune cars on his own and has even entered races. For example, he competed in an amateur race in Nikko four years ago and won the first prize. He tells us that even his kids like cars; they have many toy cars and enjoy racing. In fact, his 25-year-old wife, Misaki, also has a red racing car which is only used at the circuit. The couple’s love for cars brought them together when they first met at a shop selling second-hand cars. They got married in 2011 and their dream is to race at the circuit with their children when they are grown up.

We are interested to see what this car-loving family eats so they invite us to their home for dinner. They are actually holding a barbecue in their garage. Pork belly is one of the items on the menu. Mr Kumekawa is in charge of dinner on weekends. He and his wife work at the same nursery. Mr Kumekawa works in administration while his wife is the cook, preparing lunch and snacks for about 160 people each day.


1) Oysters are a must-try delicacy of Etajima City in Hiroshima Prefecture

2) Some restaurants have all-you-can-eat oyster buffets during the oyster harvesting period


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