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Japan Hour

It's Lunch Time

Our search for interesting places and delicious food around Japan continues this week. The next location is Cape Muroto, situated in the southernmost edge of Kochi Prefecture.

Our search for interesting places and delicious food around Japan continues this week. The next location is Cape Muroto, situated in the southernmost edge of Kochi Prefecture. In 2011, the nationally recognised scenic coastal spot was named one of UNESCO's Global Geoparks. It has a thriving fishing industry and in western Japan, it is where most of the red bream is caught.  

We are keen to find out what the locals eat for their meals. We drop by a restaurant called Hamayu, which has been in business for 35 years. According to its owner, this area was a deep-sea fisherman's village in the past but nowadays, most of them dive for corals. We explore the town and meet a lady who works with crops. We ask to see her lunch and she lets us try a rice dish with knotweed and dried fish. A wild herb, knotweed is Kochi's speciality and this area is its foremost supplier in all of Japan.

We continue walking around and notice carp streamers. We visit a shop, whose owner Ms Tani tells us that in Kochi, there is something called “Fly Flag”, made from a huge swath of cloth. A boat’s “Fly Flag” is raised along with carp streamers, with the flag design depicting a huge catch of fish.

We then come across 85-year-old Mariko Ota, who is on her way to do some shopping. She is unable to show us her lunch but instead offers us some homemade sweet bean jelly cake - made from agar weed - as a snack. After this, we head to the fishing harbour, where a local shares with us that in Muroto, seasonal times and species are officially determined by law for the harvesting of corals. Coral from Muroto is of high quality and is crafted into jewellery such as coral rings and bracelets.

The next person we chat with is a young lady, Ms Misaki, who going to buy groceries for dinner. Her husband, Katsumi Takahashi, is a dried goods vendor so we decide to go to his shop, called Izuma Sea Products. It opened for business 47 years ago as a fresh fish vendor. Now it sells dried goods such as Kochi’s tuna, squid and yellowtail. Its most popular item is Omoutsubo, which is dried moray eel.

Mr Takahashi agrees to let us see what his family eats for dinner. We wait for the shop to close at 5pm and then head to his home. The dishes served for the family meal include seared bonito - a staple of every home in this area - served with cucumber and onion in vinegar; Omoutsubo from Mr Takahashi’s shop; steamed sweet and spicy red bream with rice; and tempura crisps made from fish shavings.

Our next adventure takes us to Kujukuri in Chiba Prefecture. We walk along a section of the 66-kilometre Kujukuri Beach called Katakai. We see a group of people catching sand crabs. One of them is Hiroaki Tsuda, who allows us to visit his house to see what his daughter, Ms Noriko, has prepared for lunch. After driving for an hour, we reach his home in Tomisato City. Mr Tsuda belongs to a family of farmers and grows things such as Tomisato watermelons and daikon radishes. Besides his daughter, we also get to meet his wife, Ms Kazuko, and son-in-law Mr Soichiro. For lunch, the family has steamed sand crabs, ginger-sauteed pork and pickled daikon radish.   

1) Knotweed, a wild herb, is a speciality of Kochi Prefecture
2) A good souvenir to buy at Cape Muroto is coral jewellery


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