Shizuoka and Yamanashi, the prefectures in the vicinity of Mt. Fuji, each boast their own distinctive cuisine, offering food experiences that are as memorable as the breath-taking views of the snow-capped volcano.
JAPAN’S Mt. Fuji is among the newest sites to join the UNESCO World Heritage list, a feat it accomplished on 22 June 2023. While this will no doubt further boost the crowds of travellers who flock its foothills, the recognition is also an ideal moment to highlight the culinary treasures of its surrounding prefectures, Shizuoka and Yamanashi. Each boasts its own distinctive cuisine, offering an experience that is as memorable as the breath-taking views of Mt. Fuji.
Shizuoka: A Seafood Lover’s Paradise
Shizuoka, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Alps, is a treasure trove of seafood delicacies. The region’s proximity to the ocean ensures a fresh and diverse catch, making it a seafood lover's paradise. Among the must-try delicacies are —
Unagi no Kabayaki
Shizuoka’s signature dish is Unagi no Kabayaki, a grilled eel delicacy. The eels are meticulously prepared, skewered, and grilled over charcoal, then lacquered with a sweet and savoury soy-based sauce. The result is a succulent dish that melts in your mouth, leaving a lingering taste of the sea.
Another must-try is Sakura Ebi, a tiny pink shrimp unique to the region. These shrimps are typically served as tempura or scattered atop a bowl of hot rice, offering a delightful crunch and a subtle sweetness that is truly unforgettable.
Shizuoka is also renowned for its wasabi, grown in the clear, flowing waters of the region. The wasabi root is grated fresh at the table, providing a fiery accompaniment to sushi and sashimi dishes.
In addition to Unagi no Kabayaki and Sakura Ebi, Shizuoka offers another seafood delight, Shirasu Don. This dish features tiny whitebait fish, known as Shirasu, served atop a bowl of steaming rice. The fish can be enjoyed raw or cooked, each offering a unique taste and texture. The delicate flavour of the Shirasu, combined with the comforting warmth of the rice, makes this dish a must-try.
Shizuoka is also Japan’s largest producer of green tea, known for its high-quality Sencha and Matcha. The tea leaves are carefully harvested and processed to create a brew that is rich in flavour and aroma. A cup of Shizuoka’s green tea is the perfect way to relax and unwind after a day of exploring.
Yamanashi: The Land of Fruits and Wine
As you move inland to Yamanashi, the culinary landscape shifts from the sea to the land. Known as the ‘Kingdom of Fruits’, Yamanashi is famous for its luscious fruits and exquisite wines.
Houtou (or Hōtō)
Yamanashi’s traditional dish is Houtou (Hōtō), a hearty noodle soup. The thick, flat noodles are simmered in a miso-based broth with seasonal vegetables and pumpkin. The dish is a comforting, warm treat, perfect after a day of exploring the scenic beauty of Yamanashi.
Yamanashi is also Japan’s premier wine region, known for its Koshu wine. Made from indigenous Koshu grapes, the wine has a delicate, crisp taste with a hint of citrus, making it a perfect accompaniment to the region’s cuisine.
Another culinary gem from Yamanashi is Yoshida Udon. These thick, chewy noodles are served in a soy-based broth with green onions and tempura. The dish is simple yet satisfying, showcasing the region’s knack for creating hearty, comforting meals.
Yamanashi is not just about wines. The region is also home to Fujizakura Heights Beer, a craft beer brewery known for its award-winning beers. The beers are brewed using the pure, clean water from Mt. Fuji, resulting in a crisp, refreshing taste. Whether you prefer a light Pilsner or a robust Stout, Fujizakura offers a beer to suit every palate.
Finally, don’t miss out on Yamanashi’s fruit parfaits, a delightful dessert made with the region’s fresh fruits. Whether it’s the juicy peaches, sweet cherries, or crisp grapes, these parfaits are a refreshing end to your food exploration.
Delectable and memorable as they are, the flavours of Yamanashi and Shizuoka, like Mt. Fuji itself, will surely stand the test of time.