The SAKANA & JAPAN FESTIVAL 2023 (Japan Fisherman's Festival) in Tokyo's Odaiba-Aomi area promises an extraordinary gathering of seafood delights from across the country. Taking place from November 23-26, the event spans four days of delicious opportunities.
One of its goals is to support communities recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Therefore, it also features dishes using seafood known as "Jobanmono" from Fukushima in collaboration with the simultaneously held Discover! Fukushima Fish Festival.
Here are the highlights.
Sharing the 'Now' of Fukushima's Tomioka Town - It's Finest Flounder Jobanmono
Fukushima's Tomioka Town is resilient in its ongoing recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station incident. Representatives of the town will be present to share its current journey.
On the first day, November 23, local fishermen from Tomioka's fishing port will deliver freshly caught flounder directly to the venue. Skilled artisans at the on-site kitchen will expertly craft them into delectable seafood bowls, generously offering 100 servings for free.
A live demonstration of inspecting for radioactive substances in flounder will also be part of the experience. Throughout the event until November 26, the booth will host workshops. In these, visitors can delve into Tomioka Town's recovery, listen to storytellers, and watch videos showcasing the town's captivating coastal charm.
The town of Tomioka is located in the Hamadori region along Fukushima's coast. It faced significant devastation from the tsunami during the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. Compounded by the nuclear power station incident, the entire town had to evacuate.
Gradually, starting in April 2017, evacuation orders were lifted for some areas and residents began to return. This April 2023 marked a significant milestone as evacuation orders were lifted for the Night Forest District, including the nationally renowned cherry blossom avenue, except for specific recovery and revitalization areas. Now, 93% of the town's area is open for residents to reclaim.
After the tsunami's impact, Tomioka Fishing Port reopened in 2019, welcoming the return of eight fishing vessels. As the auction market has not yet been revived, they unload their catch at the Ukedo Fishing Port in neighboring Namie Town.
Tomioka's Revered Jobanmono
For this event, flounder caught by Tomioka fishery vessels will be carefully sourced and expertly prepared on-site. The outcome is the impeccably fresh and firm-textured finest Jobanmono "Fresh-out-of-the-Ocean" flounder bowl, awaiting visitors to savor its flavors at the event.
The seafood harvested off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture is referred to as Jobanmono, with flounder holding the distinction as its representative. Flourishing in the nutrient-rich and plentiful sea where two Pacific currents meet, flounder from this region are characterized by their well-developed and flavorful meat.
Tsuyoshi Shiba is the president of Shibaei Suisan, a fishery products company in Namie Town. As the source of the flounder for the 2023 event, he shares, "I truly hope that you'll seize this opportunity to savor the deliciousness of Jobanmono flounder."
To raise awareness of the safety of Fukushima's seafood, a live demonstration of radiation testing will be conducted. The town's food inspection center, located in the municipal office, independently performs radiation testing. During the event, a portable testing device identical to the one used at the inspection center will be set up to conduct radiation testing on the processed flounder.
Tomioka Fishing Experience Tours
Throughout the event, the booth will showcase the allure of the sea in Tomioka Town. Tomioka Fishing Port serves as the base for the fishing boat Choei Maru. The vessel has become renowned for its capacity to catch large flounder due to the recovery of the fishery resources.
In September and November of 2023, the town conducted "experience tours" for outsiders to learn about the sea in Tomioka Town. It invited families from the Tokyo metropolitan area to participate in activities such as flounder fishing.
Videos featuring the tours, including children catching an 88-centimeter flounder, have been broadcast on social media. Captain Hirokazu Ishii of the Choei Maru remarked, "We want people to feel the richness of Fukushima's sea and seafood products by experiencing fishing."
Moreover, the booth is hosting a workshop conducted by a Tomioka Town 3.11 storytelling group. Its members focus on sharing narratives related to the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.
Utilizing the traditional storytelling technique known as kamishibai (roughly meaning "paper drama"), the workshop aims to recount the events of "that day" in Tomioka Town. Stories navigate the audience through the dual calamities and shed light on the present as the town continues on the path of reconstruction.
Local high school students will take the lead in presenting their kamishibai. The group aspires to "offer attendees an opportunity to grasp the perspectives of high school students on disasters and encourage collective reflection on the impact of such events."
The Sustainable Signature Dish - Delighting in the Overflowing Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Roe Bowl!
At SAKANA & JAPAN, the most popular specialty dish vying for the top spot is the wild "Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Roe" bowl. This dish features luxurious salmon roe spilling generously from the bowl onto its plate.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and leading fisheries company Kyokuyo are preparing and promoting the dish. Also known as beniko, the roe from sockeye salmon are smaller than the typical roe from pink salmon. However, they boast a ruby-like color, a rich flavor, and a meltingly smooth texture.
Alaskan sockeye salmon is nurtured in an untouched wilderness and bountiful seas and proudly offers 100% natural deliciousness. Moreover, traditional sustainable fishing practices prioritizing resource conservation have been followed, ensuring an abundant and responsibly managed resource.
Turning Salmon Roe Into 'Ikura' and 'Sujiko'
Processing sockeye salmon roe into ikura (Japanese-style salmon roe) has historically posed a challenge due to its unique shape. Additionally, its distinctive flavor has primarily led to its consumption as sujiko (salted salmon roe in the skein).
Conversely, ikura from common salmon and trout has faced substantial catch volume fluctuations year by year. With the demand for ikura outpacing the available supply, prices have been on an upward trend.
In response to this, Kyokuyo has directed its focus toward the comparatively abundant and stable sockeye salmon supply. As part of that, they are initiating the development of salmon roe products.
Drawing on their extensive experience in fish roe handling, they devised a unique technique involving the kneading and loosening of sockeye salmon roe. This approach addresses the challenge of the roe liquefying when simply loosened. After numerous trials, they successfully brought sockeye salmon ikura to the commercial market.
A representative from Kyokuyo explained. He said, "Sockeye salmon ikura is a novel product that has not been widely available in the market until now. We invite you to savor this ikura, offering not only deliciousness but also contributing to resource conservation."
Celebrating 50 Years: Amashio Unveils Original Menu - Platinum Satsuki-masu Umashio Ankake Udon
Amashio is a salt company located in Tokyo's Shinjuku district. It is renowned for its production of Ako's Tenshio using the traditional salt-making method from Ako, Hyogo Prefecture. The company is commemorating its 50th anniversary in 2023.
In appreciation of many years of continued patronage, the company is introducing a special menu for the event. Its highlighted dish is "Platinum Satsuki-masu Umashio Ankake Udon." The noodle dish features premium fish cultured by the group and is an exclusive offering available only at the Japan Fisherman's Festival. It harnesses the power of salt to accentuate the natural flavors of other ingredients.
The company preserves the ancient tradition of Ako's salt-making, which dates back to the Edo period. There is a dedicated emphasis on the sajishio or spoonful of salt method.
For the raw material, they use high-quality seawater from Shark Bay on the western edge of Australia. It is then concentrated in salt fields through sun drying to produce a natural sun-dried salt. After recrystallizing the natural salt in Ako, nigari is introduced. It is the residual liquid extracted from the seawater. In this way, the company recreates the traditional taste of Ako salt.
The udon with salted-thickened sauce offered at SAKANA & JAPAN features Satsuki-masu, a variety of cherry salmon native to the Pacific western coast of Honshu. Acclaimed as the "queen of salmon," it is the main ingredient, accompanied by scallops and chicken dumplings as delightful toppings. The dish is meticulously crafted with a savory salt-based broth composed of bonito, kombu, and chicken bones, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
Aquaculture Rescues 'Phantom Fish'
Taking center stage is Platinum Satsuki-masu, an exquisite fish raised by the group company Ako Kasei. It operates an aquaculture facility in Muroto City, Kochi Prefecture, using deep-sea water. The population of natural Satsuki-masu has declined due to environmental shifts in upstream rivers. In turn, that has earned it the moniker of "phantom fish."
Ako Kasei ventured into aquaculture to ensure a consistent supply of Satsuki-masu. It has successfully cultured the fish using deep-sea water with optimal low temperatures for its development. Shipments of the product began in 2020.
A representative from Amashio shared this enticement: "We invite you to relish the finest bowl that provides warmth during the chilly season."
Alongside this dish, Amashio's booth also offers salty mojitos and lemonade infused with salt.
Bon Quish Supports Expanding Scallop Consumption - Introducing the Ishinomaki Scallop Cream Croquette Burger!
Bon Quish is a home delivery service offering top-notch frozen ready-to-eat seafood crafted from locally sourced ingredients. It's taking part in the "Support through Eating! Blessings of Japan" section of the event. Their focus is premium seafood from Hokkaido and the Sanriku coastline.
For the festival, their featured dish is the Ishinomaki Scallop Cream Croquette Burger. Specially created for this event, the burger aims to highlight the delectable qualities of scallops impacted by the seafood export restrictions imposed by China.
Making its exclusive debut at the event, the Ishinomaki Scallop Cream Croquette Burger will later be available through the company's December home delivery service.
Bon Quish delivers eight authentic Japanese, Western, and Chinese seafood dishes monthly, all created under the careful supervision of renowned chefs. Its objective is to foster Japan's fisheries and aquaculture industries by expanding domestic seafood consumption. A subscription is priced at ￥6,400 JPY ($43 USD) per month including shipping. The menu changes monthly.
For the fish festival, the scallop burger uses the thick scallop adductor muscles from Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. These are transformed into a creamy croquette that melts in your mouth. Visitors can choose from three different sauces to top the burger, representing Japanese, Western, and Chinese flavors.
Expert Chefs Curate the Flavors
Bon Quish's menu is curated by three expert chefs specializing in Japanese, Western, and Chinese cuisine. Each one is responsible for a unique sauce and flavor.
Chef Kazuki Kondo specializes in Japanese cuisine. The former full-time professor at Tsuji Culinary Institute selected a red miso sauce. Chef Hiroshi Fujii, specializing in Western cuisine and based in Osaka's Chuo Ward, crafted a special ratatouille sauce. Chef Tadashi Nishio From Chukashunsai Nishio in Matsuyama City, Chef Tadashi Nishio proposed a spicy mayonnaise sauce.
A representative from Bon Quish described the dish: "Each sauce perfectly complements the scallop cream croquette and buns. We hope you savor this special Scallop Burger with its delightful and satisfying bite."
Indulge in Hot Pot Delights with Suntory's PSB, Selected as the Official Beer
At Suntory's booth and the booths of other vendors selling draft beer, Perfect Suntory Beer (PSB) is on tap as the official beer of the event. This beer pairs exceptionally well with seafood dishes, making it an ideal companion for the warmth of hot pot delights.
PSB is a beer that flawlessly balances authentic flavor with zero sugar. It stands as a testament to Suntory's innovative brewing prowess.
Crafted meticulously over a five-year development period, their unique brewing technique allows yeast to ferment until sugars are completely eliminated. This skillfully converts malt sugars into rich flavor profiles. The groundbreaking achievement signifies Suntory's foray into the world of zero-sugar beer.
Leveraging the brewing mastery honed with The Premium Malt's, Suntory places a premium on the finest malt and hops. Through a process that entails careful brewing and natural water fermentation, they bring forth the "perfect beer." The name is chosen to encapsulate the true essence of their product.
Tsufuya: Gourmet Dining with the Finest Beer
Embracing the slogan, "Great food calls for great beer," Tsufuya runs promotions through various channels, including TV commercials. The restaurant offers a diverse culinary journey, ranging from Chinese delicacies to barbecue and okonomiyaki.
At the fish festival, Tsufuya presents a tempting array of hot pot dishes tailored for the colder seasons. Highlights include the "Forbidden Gout Hot Pot," featuring ankimo (monkfish liver), shirako (cod milt), and oysters. They encourage you to elevate your hot pot experience with PSB, emphasizing the harmonious blend of beer and hot pot cuisine.
The SAKANA & JAPAN FESTIVAL 2023
Event Hosts: SAKANA & JAPAN FESTIVAL Executive Committee and Discover! Fukushima Fish Festival Executive Committee
Dates: November 23 (Thursday) through November 26 (Sunday)
Venue: Special Venue: Odaiba Aomi Area, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Access: Yurikamome Line Daiba Station or Tokyo International Cruise Terminal Station
or Rinkai Line Tokyo Teleport Station
Admission: Free (Food and beverage charges are separate)
Number of Booths: Approximately 80 booths
For more details, please visit the official website.
- Safer than Safe: Inside Fukushima’s Food Monitoring System
- To China from Fukushima Flounder: 'We're Healthy, Happy, and Clean'
- EDITORIAL | Culture Day: Preserving Japan's Food Traditions for the Future
Author: The Sankei Shimbun
(Read the article in Japanese.)