Continuing on with part two of our adventures with kyodo ryori (郷土料理) / Regional cuisine, we visit the Tohoku Region, an area which comprises the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The region consists of six prefectures: Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata. Known mostly as a remote, scenic area with a harsh climate, the region did not benefit from the tourism industry until the 20th century.
Unfortunately, on March 11, 2011 the area suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami where the waves reached heights of 133 feet. The earthquake is often referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災 / Higashi Nihon Daishinsai) and is also known as the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake.
Today, as the Tohoku Region continues to rebuild, the Japanese tourism authorities are reporting that inbound tourism has returned almost to the level it had been in 2010. The region continues to promote itself and one way in which they attempt to get tourists interested is through their regional cuisine.
Tohoku kyodo ryori features: Ichigo-ni (a clear soup with sea urchin and abalone associated with Aomori), Jappa Jiru (a fish gut and vegetable soup associated with Aomori and Akita), Senbei Jiru (a soy based soup with baked rice crackers and vegetables), Wanko Soba (soba noodles served in small bowls which are refilled repeatedly and associated with Iwate), Morioka Reimen (a variation of the North Korean cold noodle soup), Harako Meshi (rice cooked in a salmon and soy stock and topped with salmon roe/ ikura), Kiritanpo (pounded rice wrapped around a skewer and grilled. It is typically brushed with miso and eaten or put into chicken and vegetable nabe/ stew) and Gyutan (beef tongue typically grilled but can also be served sashimi style. )
There are so many things to see and do in Tohoku, including onsens, temples, castles, parks, etc., why not plan a visit? While there, sample the kyodo ryori too!