Enjoyable local dishes and sake in Yamaguchi Prefecture

The gourmet food of Yamaguchi takes advantage of the rich variety of local ingredients

Located at the western end of Honshu and surrounded on three sides by the Sea of Japan, Setouchi Inland Sea and Kanmon Straits, Yamaguchi Prefecture is richly endowed with nature. Blessed with abundant natural gifts, this region has a wealth of ingredients, including seafood, with a gourmet culture that has flourished since ancient times. For example, fugu dishes (puffer fish), a representative Japanese winter delicacy, are a local specialty.

Famous for puffer fish, Karato Market in Shimonoseki City is a popular tourist attraction where gorgeous ingredients are available. It offers locally caught fish, such as red sea bream and yellowtail as well as puffer fish. There is also a farmer’s market. Fishers and farmers sell fresh seasonal ingredients in Karato Market.

A bustling market with fresh food and ingredients

In particular, Ikiiki Bakangai, an event held on the weekend and on national holidays, is popular among tourists. It offers seasonal fish for reasonable prices. Additionally, a large number of food stalls allow visitors to enjoy sushi and other dishes featuring fresh fish in the market’s vibrant atmosphere.

In Yamaguchi, particularly in Shimonoseki, puffer fish (fugu) are called fuku because fugu sounds similar to fuku (which means “good luck” in Japanese). Puffer fish are served as sashimi, hot pots, rice porridge, and fried fish. Among these, puffer fish sashimi, which is called tessa, features thin pieces of fish through which the pattern on the dish can be seen.

Thin slices of puffer fish meat are arranged to resemble blossoms
Fried puffer fish is also popular

An interesting local dish in Yamaguchi is kawara soba. It features green-tea soba noodles on heated kawara (roof tiles used for Japanese houses) topped with eggs, meat and other ingredients. This dish is interesting because of its uniqueness created by the use of kawara as a cooking utensil and its stunning appearance.

This dish is popular for its stunning appearance, not to mention delicious taste

Iwakuni zushi is made using plenty of local ingredients. In the 16th century, the local lord of the region ordered this sushi to be made as preservative food. Hence it is also known as Tonosama zushi (local lord sushi). Iwakuni zushi is a gorgeous type of pressed sushi containing lotus root, a local specialty, and flaked fish, such as Spanish mackerel and horse mackerel.

Iwakuni zushi, made using local ingredients, is colorful and gorgeous

Travel around Yamaguchi to visit local sake breweries

Yamaguchi Prefecture boasts many brands of sake, which are brewed using locally produced sake rice to create unique tastes. Such brands generally taste smooth and refreshing. They are highly rated because they pair well with many dishes. Some of the sake breweries, which are scattered throughout the prefecture, accept visitors for tours.

For example, Asahi Shuzo, the brewer of Dassai, which is also becoming popular outside of Japan, gives brewery tours to groups of up to five visitors. (Groups of six or more are not accepted.)

Visit Yamaguchi Prefecture and enjoy beautiful seasonal flavors and famous brands of sake