Japan has one of the most interesting and diverse food cultures in the world, with myriad unique delicacies and traditional dishes specific to each region. It is now taking its rightful place as a gastronomic destination on a world stage!
In December 2013, Japanese cuisine (washoku) was recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The decision of the committee for this recognition was more than just the country´s unrivaled food dishes; it was also about Japan´s traditional culinary cultures, the people´s respect for nature, the focus on healthy eating, the proper sourcing of the ingredients and the sustainable use of natural resources.
While much of what visitors recognize as Japanese cuisine can be found throughout the country, each region and many of the 47 prefectures also have their own distinct variations and unique dishes influenced by everything from traditions and customs to locality.
There is, however, no better way of exploring the nation’s amazing cuisine than by enjoying the gastronomic delights in Mie, touted as the food capital of the country. When eating in Mie, expect to indulge in some of the best seafood in the world and high-grade beef that melts like butter in your mouth. Mie is indelibly tied to the seasons, the people, and the land. The region´s abundant natural resources make particularly this prefecture a food heaven. Mie comprises a creative procession of dishes made of the freshest local produce, representing various cooking methods, and presented on a multitude of exquisite plates and bowls.
7 Reasons why Mie Prefecture is Japan´s Culinary Capital
Reason #1: Matsusaka Beef – known as “King” of beef in Japan!
Matsuska Beef – considered Higher Quality Beef than Kobe Beef – is known for its frosty appearance and sweet, fat, soft texture that almost instantly melts in your mouth. The more off-white the fatty marbling, the better the taste! Unlike Kobe-Wagyu, which is produced from bullocks, Matsusaka wagyu is exclusively from virgin females. These treasures cows are fed beer to give them the munchies.
Matsuska Beef is served in many delicious ways and can be enjoyed as steak sukiyaki, shabu-shabu, and BBQ or Teppan-yaki. When in Mie, Matsusaka beef is even offered in the club house on the golf course!
Reason #2: Ise Ebi (Lobster) – arguably the most delicious lobster in Japan!
Ise Ebi is known for its size and spines as well as its sweet and umami-rich taste (as fed by Kuroshio Current). Its meat is pink and almost translucent. Ebi (=shrimp) and Kuruma-ebi (prawns) are some of the most famous specialties. No matter how you cook them – sashimi, grilled or fried – they are just delicious. Although Ise Ebi is highly popular throughout Japan as high-class cuisine, enjoy this delicacy fresh from “Sea to Table” in Mie – at a fraction of the price!
Reason #3: Divine Abalones – treasured as an offering to gods!
Since ancient times, abalone continues to be treasured as an offering to the gods. Woman divers, called ama, carefully catch them even now, while preserving their ecosystem as a future resource. The Toba and Shima areas in Mie are the perfect habitat for these abalones with reefs and plenty of abundant algae (abalone’s food).
Reason #4: Fresh Delicious Oysters – for a keen deal at small Fishing Towns along Mie´s beautiful Coast
Thanks to nutrients flowing in from three rivers, especially Matoya bay is abundant with plankton that are rich food for oysters. Try the soft and fluffy, delicious Matoya oyster that can be eaten raw. It has a rich sweetness in taste. Alternatively, you may try the Rock oyster which has thin shells and is quite meaty with a creamy taste. A wide variety of oyster huts participate in the seasonal highlight (October to March) along the Toba Pearl Road, known as Oyster Road, with some huts offering the ultimate shellfish lovers’ dream: dig into as many freshly caught oysters as you want – all at a keen deal (about $ 20.00 pp)
Reason #5: Mie´s award-winning sake – a match made in heaven!
Distinct flavor profiles of delicious premium local Sake such as “Zaku”, “Uneme”, “Sakaya Hachibei” jive well with Mie´s authentic high-profile cuisine! There are 35 local sake breweries in Mie. Each brewery has its own signature brand. Mie´s top 3 sake brands were served to G7 leaders at the 2016 Summit in Shima. Mie´s famous “Uzume” brand has even won many global awards. Sake is served cool in summer and hot in winter and can be enjoyed at the turn or after your round of golf in the club house. Or Both! Nothing trumps fresh sake served locally.
Reason #6: The origin of Japanese Food Culture can be found in Mie!
Mie´s Ise region (Umashikuni) is a magnificent land blessed with fertile plains, the bounties of the sea, mountains, and a perfect climate. The area has inherited culinary traditions to savour seasonal ingredients nurtured amid beautiful local surroundings. This tradition is the very origin of the Japanese food culture. The locals have protected the natural environment, ensuring that its blessings continue to be handed down through the ages. The spirit underlying this relationship with Mie´s nature has remained deeply rooted to this day.
Shima region – the land of divine offerings – has historically provided marine products to Jingu (Gods) and the Imperial Court. And the culture of protecting and coexisting with nature is also still alive among the ama divers’ community.
Reason #7: Mie boasts unrivaled authentic culinary experiences!
Enjoy fresh seafood B.B.Q in an authentic amagoya (hut) and talk to Ama women divers. Amagoyas are constructed for ama divers to rest, warm their bodies – cold from diving – by an open fireplace, and socialize with their fellow divers. Grill your own freshly caught oysters in one of the multiple oyster huts along the Toba Pearl Road and dig into as many as you want – a shellfish lovers’ dream. For the ultimate experience: Savour these grilled oysters in a floating restaurant while revelling in the beauty of the picturesque Toba Bay. Meet authentic and traditional locals, who are genuinely delighted to welcome outsiders into their postcard-perfect idyll, serving farm-to-table delicacies.
TAKE AWAY – IN MIE YOU ARE IN FOR A TREAT
Mie is a FOOD LOVERS PARADISE and A GASTRONOMIC DELIGHT. Local produce is the essence of the prefecture´s culinary DNA and excellence. Its unique food culture, many traditions, an authentic environment, and the extremely friendly locals will add to your highly memorable culinary experience which can´t be found anywhere else.
VISIT MIE FOR A CULINARY GOLF JOURNEY UNLIKE ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD!