All-Star Flavor―2

Photography by Soshiro Nakakura
Text contribution by Yusuke Kitamori

Japan teems with diverse culinary treasures from its fertile lands and abundant seas. The foods we highlight here are all raised, handled, or made with painstaking artisanal care. Some have risen to the status of local brands, the pride of their prefecture or region. Others represent the pinnacles of traditional specialties, legacies created by generations of Japanese. All offer flavor worthy of discovery.

[Continued from Part 1]


Nori from the Ariake Sea―Saga
Each region of Japan has its own long-cherished foods packed with unique flavors and rich in nutrition. Producing these local specialties are people who are nothing short of craftsmen, using passion, ingenuity, and steady effort. One example is nori seaweed farmer Keiji Shimauchi.

Nori fishermen set out to sea at dawn for the harvest, which takes place twice between November and April.

Working in the Ariake Sea south of Saga prefecture in Kyushu, Shimauchi carries on the traditional fixed-pole cultivation technique that he learned from his father. It involves attaching nets to poles fixed into the ocean floor and planting nori seedlings on the nets. The key is the big tidal fluctuation in the Ariake Sea, resulting in the appearance of extensive mud flats twice a day. Seedlings feed on the nutrients in seawater when the tide is in and absorb the sun’s energy when the tide is out. The method takes time but helps seedlings develop high concentrations of amino acids that create umami savoriness.

Seedlings attached to nets are nourished by tides that fluctuate as much as 6 meters. Seaweed is harvested when 15 to 20 centimeters long.

Ever a perfectionist, Shimauchi cultivates his own seedlings, saying, “I aim to reproduce the nori my father grew.” He will continue the traditional methods nurtured by the natural blessings of the Ariake Sea.

Harvested nori is pressed into squares by machine, and then dried.


Keiji Shimauchi’s nori

[Continue to Part 3]


Find out more in the All-Star Flavor feature, KIJE 2020 Autumn / Winter issue.



2021 Spring / Summer

Inside Japan’s West