Fukushima Items


Japanese Green Eye Fish, or Mehikari (“Shining Eyes”)
Mehikari, meaning “shining eyes” in Japanese, received its name for its bulging, shiny blue eyes that pop right out at you. It used to be regarded as a rough fish of little value, but its tender meat came to earn it a great reputation, and it’s now the representative fish of Fukushima. It’s delicious when served tempura style, fried, dried, or even in sashimi form when fresh enough.

Mehikari | 福島特産物

Kawamata Shamo

Kawamata is a town that thrived as a major producer of silk products in Japan. Wealthy merchants originally owned shamo for cockfighting, but at some point or another these chicken-like birds became food to serve to guests. They’ve got a tender texture that becomes more and more delicious with every bite! Kawamata shamo were even used to make “the world’s longest chicken skewer.”

Kawamata Shamo | 福島特産物


The currently trending (?) “kyabetsu mochi” is a dish made with cabbage and mochi, and is a staple food in Koriyama.
It’s been a local household dish since before the 80s. For flavor, people often add soy sauce, mirin, or dashi soup stock. It’s easy to make, and quite tasty.

★ Since the area is freezing, it’s perfect for growing “snow cabbage”!
Snow cabbage is packed with sweetness and flavor. It’s almost like a fruit you can only get in the winter.
The key to its flavor is letting it rest under the snow. When the cabbage tries to protect itself from the cold, its proteins turns into amino acids. You can find snow cabbage at roadside stations and supermarkets in Inawashiro.

Cabbage | 福島特産物

Mount Bandai

★ Mount Bandai
Lake Inawashiro
The southern side of Mount Bandai, facing Lake Inawashiro, is called Omote-Bandai, and the northern side, facing Lake Hibara and Goshiki-numa, is called Ura-Bandai. Lake Hibara and Goshiki-numa are now famous sightseeing locations, but they’re actually still only 130 years old. They were formed in year 21 of the Meiji period (1888), when a volcanic eruption dammed the river.

Mount Bandai | 福島特産物


★ There’s a massive gingko tree beside the worship hall at Shingu Kumano Shrine in Kitakata.
The worship hall was built at the end of the Heian period (794-1185), and is now designated as a national important cultural asset. Within the shrine grounds is a massive, 800 year old gingko tree that’s considered to be sacred. When its leaves turn colors between the middle and end of November, it looks as if a golden carpet is spread out across the worship hall. It’s definitely worth checking out!
★ The large gingko tree in Furumachi, Minamiaizu.
This massive, 800 year old tree towers above the vestiges of an elementary school courtyard. It’s said that it was a garden tree for a warrior family in the middle ages. Some people say that you can tell how much snow will fall in the winter by looking at the pattern of its fallen leaves, earning it the name “snow forecast gingko” among locals….

Gingko | 福島特産物


Sunflowers bloom all over Fukushima Prefecture. The large flowers bloom as a symbol of reconstruction after the earthquake and tsunami, and they are planted in fields now unfit for growing crops, as well as in evacuation areas to make places for people to gather. Sunflower seed oil is also used as fuel for buses.

Sunflowers | 福島特産物


★ Aizu mishirazu kaki: the persimmon suitable as an imperial gift
These kaki are unique for their large shape and syrupy sweetness. Their astringent taste is removed the old-fashioned way with shochu.
In Japanese, “mishirazu” means “not knowing one’s place.” There are a few explanations floating around about the origins of this persimmon’s name…
1.That the persimmon forgets its place and bears tons of fruit
2.That a general once said he didn’t know such a delicious persimmon existed
3.That when you eat them, you lose control of yourself and eat too much

Kaki | 福島特産物

Joban Mono

The water off the coast of Fukushima is an ocean front where the Oyashio Current and Kuroshio Current collide. Many high-quality fish can be caught here, like flounder, slime flounder, mehikari (Japanese Green Eye Fish), and anko (“goosefish.”)
The fish caught in these waters are called Joban Mono, and have come to hold a high reputation on the fish market.

Joban Mono | 福島特産物


★Only during strawberry season! The “great tasting marriage seeking party”
Strawberry picking acts as the perfect way to bring men and women together, and there’s a strawberry farm in the Tobita area of Iwaki that’s perfect for people who are looking to get married.
★ The restored strawberry farm
The strawberry farm in the Wada area of Soma was submerged in ocean water during the tsunami, but it was successfully restored by converting to aquaculture. Now, children enjoy picking strawberries here every year.

Strawberries | 福島特産物

Shiso Leaves

One of the most beloved foods in the Tohoku region is called shisomaki (shiso-wraps). It’s a dish made by wrapping miso in shiso leaves.
Since it contains chili peppers, it is a bit spicy and has a mature flavor. The shisomaki in Fukushima have a lot of variation: you can wrap everything from daikon to dried persimmons or peaches in the shiso leaves.

Shiso Leaves | 福島特産物

Lake Inawashiro

This is the fourth largest lake in Japan.
There are many things to enjoy here in the summer, including windsurfing and water skiing. Moreover, a music festival is held every year on shore. In the winter, swans fly in from Siberia. One of the greatest views in all of Fukushima is Mount Bandai from Lake Inawashiro.

Lake Inawashiro | 福島特産物

Japanese Yams

Long, straight “Bai Ze Yams.” These are a special product of the Kyu-shirasawa area in Motomiya.
The yams are grown inside a special pipe, and can reach over 50 centimeters in length! They have a heavy sweetness and stickiness to them, and are renowned as the best quality yams in the whole country.

Japanese Yams | 福島特産物


Kido River in the town of Naraha is counted among the few rivers countrywide famous for salmon swimming upstream.
Due to the earthquake, people were unable to release salmon fry into the river to populate the waters, but salmon eggs naturally incubated while the townspeople took refuge.
The townspeople were uplifted when, five years later, those salmon came back again.

Salmon | 福島特産物


Some say that Fukushima’s apples are more ripe and delicious than those from Aomori or Nagano.
Apples with honey in them are one of the trademarks of Fukushima apples. Since they’re so cheap, and there are so many to choose from, you won’t know what to do with yourself.

Apples | 福島特産物


The mizu-basho is a famous flower in Ozegahara.
These flowers mark the start of the snow melting season, and bloom in great numbers toward the end of June. Many sightseers come to the gateway on Fukushima’s side to Mount Ozegahara, the village of Hinoemata.

Mizu-basho | 福島特産物


★A new year’s favorite, ika ninjin (“squid and carrots”)
This is a simple but strangely addictive staple cuisine in Fukushima. It’s made by finely slicing carrots and Japanese flying squid and flavoring them with soy sauce or mirin. It’s the perfect snack to complement your drink.
★Aizu is one of the top three producers of Asian ginseng
The ginseng produced in Aizu is called “Asian ginseng.” 300 years ago, the Aizu-clan encouraged ginseng cultivation in the region. It’s effective as a nourishment tonic and for relief from fatigue.

Carrots | 福島特産物

Zenmai — the Royal Fern

The royal fern is one of the wild plants that announces spring’s arrival. There’s an unspoken rule in Minamiaizu: when harvesting it, always leave some behind. This little piece of wisdom is meant to ensure that people have good fortune next year as well.

Zenmai — the Royal Fern | 福島特産物


Do you know that slightly grainy sensation that figs have when you eat them? That’s actually a bunch of little flowers!
Figs are a plant whose flowers bloom inside its fruit, and all those tiny red beads are actually tiny flowers!

Figs | 福島特産物


The matagi hunt bears, deer, wild boars, and other animals.
People in the Tadami area call them teppo-uchi (“riffle firers,”) kariudo (“hunting people,”) and yamodo (“mountain people.”)

Matagi | 福島特産物

Ears of Rice

Fukushima is one of the leading producers of rice in Japan. Before the earthquake, it held the number four spot in the country for rice production.
Afterward, rice production dropped to three-fourths of what it once was, but Fukushima is still the seventh largest rice producer in Japan today. The sweeping scenery of golden ears is just fantastic. Once it’s fall, it’d be great to buy some brown rice, polish it at a rice-polishing kiosk, and eat from the first crop of the year freshly cooked!

Ears of Rice | 福島特産物


Fukushima is Japan’s “Sake Kingdom.”
In Fukushima, both the quality of sake and the techniques used at breweries are among the best in the country. For five years in a row, Fukushima has boasted the most brands to secure gold medals at an award ceremony for new sake. And for good reason: it’s actually been a 25 year long battle to reach this position. Breweries have come together to develop talent in the workforce and engineer new technologies, and they now share the fruits of that hard labor.

Sake | 福島特産物


Akabeko is a cow doll made from papier mâché, and is a popular folk craft in the Aizu region. You might say it’s like a symbol of Fukushima Prefecture.
There are a few explanations for the cow’s origins, like the legend of a red cow that rid people of plague, or the story of a cow that helped construct a temple atop a cliff. Its red color is said to be effective in driving away evil-spirits, and it’s loved both as “a cow that brings happiness” and as “a guardian deity of children.”

Akabeko | 福島特産物

Fall Colors

From the Bandai Azuma Lakeline to the Adatara ropeway cars, Fukushima is a treasure cove for fall colors. There are a multitude of different terrains in Fukushima, from the warm pacific region all the way to the snow country of Oku-Aizu. So, you can enjoy the fall colors for a long, long time. Maybe on a hike, or perhaps from an outdoor hot spring…

Fall Colors | 福島特産物

Sansho no Ha

Aizu is famous for a dish called “nishin-no sansho zuke.” When you pickle dried and sliced herring that feels like it’s just been shipped in via Niigata in soy sauce and pepper leaves, you get a nice, crisp, and preserved snack.
It goes perfectly with Aizu sake!

Sansho no Ha | 福島特産物

Shiso Wraps

One of the most beloved foods in the Tohoku region is called shisomaki (shiso-wraps). It’s a dish made by wrapping miso in shiso leaves.
Since it contains chili peppers, it is a bit spicy and has a mature flavor. The shisomaki in Fukushima have a lot of variation: you can wrap everything from daikon to dried persimmons or peaches in the shiso leaves.

Shiso Wraps | 福島特産物
Cucumbers in Sukagawa | 福島特産物

Cucumbers in Sukagawa

Bristles are a good sign that cucumbers are fresh. When a cucumber is freshly harvested, it’ll stick together even after you cut it in half!
In summer and fall, Fukushima produces the largest amount of cucumbers in Japan.
They grow steadily during long, hot nights!

Peaches | 福島特産物


There’s a big difference in morning and evening temperatures in Fukushima, making it perfect as a “Fruits Kingdom.” Peaches, which have soaked up plenty of sun and have been raised nice and sweet, are particularly famous around the country. In Fukushima City, there’s a street where orchards and direct sells shops are lined up.
It’s called the “Fruits Line.” You can also try picking fruit there.

Cedars | 福島特産物


In the village of Kawauchi, there’s a massive cedar tree that towers above a farmhouse called “hayashi no osugi” or “shogun sugi.” People say it’s over 1200 years old, and the story goes that it was planted to commemorate general Sakanoue no Tamuramaro’s victory in battle. There’s also a quite unusual cedar tree in Kawauchi. It’s a “husband and wife” cedar, which splits in two from its base. Finding another cedar with that kind of shape would be very difficult indeed, even if you were to look all over the country.

Kokeshi Dolls | 福島特産物

Kokeshi Dolls

There are eleven traditional types of kokeshi dolls in the Tohoku region. Tsuchiyuonsen is the birthplace of the top three types of kokeshi dolls. Tsuchiyu kokeshi are unique for their striped, potter’s wheel style pattern and for making a squeaking sound when you turn their heads.
※ To learn about the differences between the Tohoku kokeshi dolls, try listening to the song “Kokeshi Keito Oboeuta” (“remembering the kokeshi doll groups.”)

Pumpkins | 福島特産物


★The “Iitate yukikko” (“Iitate snow girl”) is an original kind of pumpkin completed in 2011 in Iitate. It combines soft and flaky sweetness with a nice mellow texture. The village is proud to have protected its seeds even while they took refuge after the earthquake.

★ The “Aizu kiku kabocha” is the traditional vegetable of Aizuwakamatsu. This pumpkin turns a reddish brown when it begins to ripen.

★ “Okuaizu kaneyama kabocha” is a local specialty in the town of Kaneyama. The vibrant orange pumpkins are grown using a suspension method. They have a rich syrupy sweetness and a nice shape, too.

Wakasagi | 福島特産物


It’s winter. You take a tent down to Lake Hibara. You open up a hole on the frozen lake, and drop in a fishing line. You catch a fish called “wakasagi,” and take it back to where you’re staying to have it fried tempura style. For people who are sensitive to the cold, you can try fishing on a “dome ship,” where everyone can enjoy wakasagi fishing, even beginners!

Kogomi | 福島特産物


These wild ostrich ferns announce the arrival of spring. High quality ferns can be gathered in Minamiaizu because of its snowy climate. They’re great boiled with some salt and sprinkled with some bonito shavings and soy sauce.
It’s also fantastic mixed with miso for Aizu’s special “wild sesame miso” side dish.

Daruma Dolls | 福島特産物

Daruma Dolls

These dolls were first made about three hundred years ago to wish prosperity for the castle town. Their faces are made from various signs of good fortune, like cranes for eyebrows and turtles for beards. Every year on February 11th, over 150,000 people visit the Daruma Ichi Market. If you eat the newly famous Shirakawa Daruma Hamburger, your luck is bound to go up.
The burger comes with meat cutlet under a bun with a daruma doll drawn it. You’ll want to eat it whenever you’re in a make-or-break situation.

Okiagari Koboshi | 福島特産物

Okiagari Koboshi

This is one of the most well-known folk crafts in the Aizu region.
Because it always stands back up no matter how many times it gets knocked down, it’s regarded as a good luck charm for perseverance. The doll’s sheer determination makes it a symbol of tenacity and good health.

Ine Bocchi | 福島特産物

Ine Bocchi

“Ine bocchi” are large mounds of straw that appear in fields after rice is harvested.
They’re left there in order to dry out the straw, so you can only see them during about a ten day period. The shapes of the mounds vary by region. Some are pyramid shaped, while others have a spiral shape. The straw will go on to assume many different forms, from special ropes used at shrines to straw sandals

Fukinoto | 福島特産物


Fukinoto announces the arrival of spring from underneath the snow. There are a few ways you can enjoy its unique scent and subtle bitterness. Many people eat it with tempura, but you can also try “fuki miso,” in which fukinoto is finely minced and mixed with miso.

Hula Girls | 福島特産物

Hula Girls

A familiar sight from the movies, the highlight of hot spring theme parks are their hula girls. Hula dance shows began in 1966, when the leisure resort was opened as an effort to revitalize the struggling coal industry.
The women dancing the hula really enlivened the community. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, they traveled all around Japan to spread courage and inspiration.

Akebi | 福島特産物


Akebi’s light purple skin is slightly bitter, and tastes great when sautéed.
The vine of the akebi is often used to make bags and baskets. These folk crafts from the Aizu region were originally made by hand during the cold winter season.

Toruko Kikyo | 福島特産物

Toruko Kikyo

This flower is particular to the Yamakiya area in Kawamata. The cool climate of Abukuma helps high quality flowers grow.
In the language of flowers, it means “hope.”

Soybeans | 福島特産物


★”Fukuibuki” soybeans are a specialty of Samegawa.
The miso and tofu made with fukuibuki soybeans have a rich taste, and contain plenty of isoflavones, which are good for beauty and health.
★ Fukushima is the biggest consumer of fermented soybeans, or “natto,” in the country (according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)
Natto is often served during lunch at elementary schools in Fukushima. Perhaps eating it from an early age leads to people eating it a lot as adults too… By the way, natto is more mellow and tasty if you first mix it and then add sauce.

The Azuma Mountains | 福島特産物

The Azuma Mountains

★ The Azuma Mountains (Azuma Mountain Range)
This volcanic mountain range stretches for 20 kilometers over the prefectural border of Fukushima and Yamagata.
One of the volcanoes, which can be seen from Fukushima City, is Mount Azuma-kofuji. At the beginning of spring, the lingering snow on the face of the volcano looks like a rabbit. Farmers look to this “snow rabbit” to tell when they should start sowing seeds.

Keyaki | 福島特産物


There are several large, breathtaking zelkova trees in Fukushima, and it is even designated as the prefectural tree.
By the way, the prefectural flower is the nemotoshakunage, whose scientific name is “rhododendron brachycarpum,” and the prefectural bird is the narcissus flycatcher.

The Japanese Clawed Salamander | 福島特産物

The Japanese Clawed Salamander

These salamanders are one food that can be found in the mountains. They can be caught in mountain streams, and are special product of Hinoemata. They were exported overseas as Chinese herbal medicine during the Taisho period (1912 to 1926), and became a vital source of income. It’s said that they help promote vitality and good health, as well as prevent bed-wetting and crying at night. Their fishing season is in May. It’s the village-rule to stop fishing salamanders once more females are caught than males so that their numbers aren’t depleted.

Stoats, the Short-Tailed Weasel | 福島特産物

Stoats, the Short-Tailed Weasel

These small animals looks like weasels. Their fur turns snow white in the winter. Because of their lovely and majestic appearance, they’re often called “the mountain god’s messengers.” You might be able to see them in Ozegahara or Hinoemata.
They’re adorable to look at, but are actually quite feisty, so please be careful.

Togan | 福島特産物


In Japanese, the name “togan” means “winter melon,” but waxed gourds are actually summer vegetables. They’re about the size of a rugby ball, and have a nice light taste. When used in stews or soups, they’re said to promptly work against summer fatigue.

Zucchini | 福島特産物


Zucchini have a cucumber-like shape, but they’re actually part of the pumpkin family. Their Japanese name is “urikabocha,” or “melon pumpkin.” The zucchini in Fukushima come in a number of unique shapes, from ones that are round to ones that are a bit flatter like a flying saucer.

Grapes | 福島特産物


Kawauchi is Becoming “Wine Country”!
Pastures that were abandoned after the nuclear disaster are now being restored as vineyards.
The cool climate here is well suited for growing grapes. Kawauchi is aiming for its first shipment of grapes to be delivered in 2020.

Egoma | 福島特産物


Wild Sesame is well-known to be good for health.
In Fukushima, wild sesame is called “junen” (“ten years”), and has been eaten since long ago. People say it’s called “ten years” in Fukushima because you live ten extra years if you eat it. Wild sesame helps improve blood circulation, so it’s good protection for people with heart disease, and it’s also popular for beauty.

Tsuruga Castle | 福島特産物

Tsuruga Castle

Tsuruga Castle is the setting of the television series “Yae no Sakura.” It withstood over a month’s worth of heavy attacks during the Boshin War. To avenge her brother, Niijima Yae disguised herself as a man, took up arms, and went into battle.
She was later praised as the Joan of Arc of the end of the Edo period.
The castle was later demolished by the Meiji government, but it was rebuilt in 1965 through the collective efforts and donations from great number of people. It has the only tower with red roof tiles in Japan.

Horses | 福島特産物


There’s a traditional festival in the Soma region called Soma Nouma Oi (“Soma Wild Horse Chase,”) which holds over 1000 years of history.
Men in town don armor, mount horses, and line up. The cavalry can become quite large, sometimes reaching over 500 horsemen. One highlight of the three day event is the “armored horse racing.”
Another highlight is the “shinki sodatsusen,” a contest in which everyone scrambles to capture a flag. Once a year, these men transform themselves into brave horseback warriors.