It's Lunch Time

Japan Hour

Japan Hour - Autumn
It's Lunch Time

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Japan Hour:

It's Lunch Time

Join us as we visit interesting spots and find out what the locals eat in these areas. Our first destination is Kurume City in Fukuoka Prefecture. Besides manufacturing and agriculture, it is also known for its gourmet food which represents Kyushu. For example, Tonkotsu ramen originated here. It is said that an udon street vendor first came up with the idea to use Tonkotsu soup in the early Showa Period.

We begin by exploring a remote area away from the city. We visit the Morimitsu Farm, which has been around for nearly 70 years. We speak to 38-year-old Chikara Morimitsu, a third-generation farmer who manages the farm. He is currently raising three kinds of dairy cows - the farm has about 70 cows in total. Mr Morimitsu takes us to a storage room where we get to try some freshly squeezed milk from Jersey cows.

We request to see what he is having for lunch. The meal is prepared by Mr Morimitsu’s wife, Ms Aiko, who also works at the farm with two other staff. They take care of the cows and milk them early in the morning. Ms Aiko shows us how she makes tofu using milk. Leftover raw milk is heated and then vinegar is added. Once they are mixed together, the milk will start to solidify. It is then drained through a sieve to remove the liquid. The milk tofu can be eaten as is or with soy sauce. Ms Aiko however adds it in a pot full of vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts and spinach. The hotpot is eaten with a citrus or sesame-based sauce. Aside from the milk tofu hotpot, some of the vegetables are also used in a salad with lettuce, avocado and tomatoes.

We next head to Yame City, which is also in Fukuoka Prefecture. Known for producing high-quality tea, the city is also rich in history - white houses built during the Edo Period can still be seen here. We visit a 300-year-old teahouse called Konomi Honke. It sells the city’s speciality, Yame tea. The shop’s 14th-generation owner Kenichi Konomi tells us that a special process called tea drying is used to make the tea in Yame. The tea leaves are dried on Japanese handmade paper with coal underneath. This traditional method is believed to add richness and sweetness to the tea leaves.

Next, we make our way to the mountains. We notice that many houses here have stone lanterns in their garden. We drop by a shop making stone lanterns and other things such as cooking stoves since the Meiji Period. It is run by Mr Hashiyama and his father. Mr Hashiyama tells us that Yame City is famous for its stone lanterns and stones have been processed here from as early as the Edo Period. The rocks used by Mr Hashiyama’s shop were formed as a result of Mt. Aso’s eruption about 70,000 years ago. The rocks are soft and easy to sculpt because they are lightweight, durable and fire-resistant.

Mr Hashiyama agrees to let us see what he is eating for lunch. We accompany his wife Ms Chiyomi to a stone quarry in the mountains to get some wasabi leaves for the meal. She tells us that wasabi leaves can grow without water so they are sometimes called field wasabi. She uses the wasabi leaves to make pickles. The leaves are lightly braised then cut after being cooled in water and left overnight in sake lees. Other dishes prepared are pickled leaf mustard and potato salad. The lunch menu includes carrots, shiitake mushrooms, deep-fried tofu and stewed bamboo shoots cooked with homegrown rice. The bamboo shoots are cut into bite-sized pieces and lightly cooked after adding chilli peppers and dried sardines. Kizara, a type of granulated sugar, is also added along with white sugar and soy sauce to the bamboo shoots. The last dish is scrambled eggs mixed with vinegar, cucumber and seaweed.

Our next stop is Miura City in Kanagawa Prefecture. The city is well-known for its abundant seafood such as tuna. It is also an agricultural city. We speak to farmer Kazuyoshi Yamazaki, who harvests spring cabbages with his wife Ms Mayumi. They grow watermelons and other melons in summer and radishes during winter. They agree to let us visit their home to see what they are having for lunch. Dishes include stir-fried spring cabbage with salted seaweed; stir-fried pork with boiled bamboo shoots; and bamboo and snow pea miso soup.

After this, we go to Misaki Port and visit the direct delivery centre, Urari. There are several stores here selling famous local products. We go to Suzuki Fisheries which specialises in things such as tuna caught in Misaki and dried fish from the Sea of Japan. We speak to Kazuma Tamaru and request to have a look at his evening meal. He agrees so we head to his house after he finishes work.

Mr Tamaru’s mother used to be a cook at an elderly care home. She prepares 12 dishes for the family, such as stir-fried spring cabbage with eggs and whitebait, spring cabbage cream stew and sauteed tuna cheek.  

Tips:
1) Yame City is known for its high-quality tea so Yame tea is a must-try item there
2) Spring cabbage is found in many home-cooked dishes in Miura City

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