Hiroshima #3 – Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)

Okonomiyaki… how to describe this delicious dish? The word means basically “cook it how you like it” and refers to a sort of pancake type thing made with different ingredients depending on, well, what you like!

Okonomiyaki is famous in Hiroshima as well as the Kansai region, especially Osaka. Each area has a different style of making it. Instead of mixing it all together like in Osaka, Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is layered, and usually with noodles on the bottom then topped with lots of chives and a sweet sauce. Part of the fun of it is making it yourself on the table in front of you, and then trying to eat it with flat spoon type things before it burns. Talk about food with an effort!

Getting Hiroshima style okonomiyaki in… Yamaguchi. Oops.

Hiroshima #2 – Rice Scoop with Carp Mascot (しゃもじ withカープ坊や)

WOW, long time no post! Sorry for seemingly abandoning the site… after coming back from my trip to Europe, I was both extremely busy with work, and waiting impatiently for the 8th set of postcards to come out. Work is still busy, the new cards still aren’t out, and here I’ve gone half a month without posting anything. So I’ll be doing a post a day for awhile to show I’m not dead! Here to begin is Hiroshima’s second postcard, combining rice scoops (shamoji) made in the area with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp Baseball Team’s mascot, Carp Boy.

Shamoji are said to have been developed by a monk living on Itsukushima, better known as the famous Miyajima near Hiroshima City. Now, these rice scoops are a household item throughout Japan, often of plastic these days, but also sometimes the more traditional wood. I guess just the rice paddle was too plain of a card, so a picture of carp boy was added. Hiroshima’s baseball team is… well, they’re not that good (sorry, Hiroshima). Mostly the reason is that they are actually the only team that’s not majority owned by a company, so the team is always short of money!

Anyway, when I visited Miyajima, I could see the giant rice paddle commemorating the humble beginnings of the shamoji:

Here we go… wow its big!

Without the postcard

You can take home one of these smaller ones. It’ll fit in your luggage better, for sure!

I probably should have bought one, but I don’t actually have a rice cooker so…

Hiroshima #1: Oysters (牡蠣)

I have a confession: I don’t like oysters. I want to like them… I’ve tried to like them…but I just can’t seem to convince myself that they’re good no matter how I try them. I’ve had them raw, both plain and the New Orleans Acme Oyster style with tabasco; I’ve had them fried, baked, cooked… yeah, it’s not going to happen.

My parents happen to love oysters, however, so I still had plenty of chances to photograph them when I visited Hiroshima with them last year. Of course, this card is retired, so I wasn’t able to buy it directly from the post office… I found it on Yahoo Auctions instead, but didn’t have the postcard to take pictures with the oysters themselves.

An oyster restaurant with oysters actually growing before our eyes!

Fried oysters from the above restaurant

My parents’ grilled oysters from dinner. They reported deliciousness.

Actually, this past October on my tour, I had the chance to explore oysters in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. These oysters from Miyagi are often sent to prefectures like Hiroshima to seed their oyster industry, which made the 2011 earthquake and tsunami all the more devastating, as it didn’t just affect the Tohoku oyster industry, but that of all over Japan. You can read more about that here.

Hiroshima #4 – Lemons (レモン)

From the tip-top of the main island of Japan, Honshuu, to very near the bottom, today we travel down south to sunny Hiroshima. Most foreigners have heard of Hiroshima as one of the two cities America dropped the atomic bomb on during WWII. The Peace Park and A-Bomb Dome stand as shocking and humbling reminders of the ravages of war, and are a popular destination for tourists of all countries. Also in Hiroshima is Miyajima, with its picturesque torii gate that seems to float on water at high tide, perfect for photography if you get it at just the right moment.

But Hiroshima is famous for more than that, and while it might come as a surprise, is the top producer and exporter of lemons in Japan. Lemon harvest begins in the fall, when the lemons are still green, and continue as they yellow in the winter sun until spring. Even when lemons aren’t in season, you can find many different products using lemons, such as lemon cake, lemon bubble bath, lemon masks, lemon jams… well, the list goes on! If you’re lucky, you might even find the adorable heart-shaped lemons!

Hiroshima Lemons at my local grocery store

If you’re in Hiroshima from fall to spring, consider stopping by a farm and picking some lemons for yourself! Unfortunately, most of the information about lemon picking is in Japanese. If it is something you are interested in doing and want more information, please don’t hesitate to comment and I will find some farms and information for you!

Meanwhile, if you are in Tokyo but would like to sample some Hiroshima products, including lemons, head over to Ginza to the Hiroshima Brand Store TAU, where you can buy lemon products to your heart’s content!