Awaji Island Kuniumi Association
- Food & Speciality
Food & Speciality
Traditional sight in spring: Sun-drying ikanago (sand lance)
From ancient times up until the 12th century, Awaji Island was known for its special status as a producer of food for the Imperial Court, marine products in particular, joining the regions of Wakasa and Shima (today in Fukui and Mie prefectures). Around the time of Emperor Nintoku in the early 5th century, it was noted in the Nihon Shiki (Ancient Record of Matters) that even cold spring water for everyday drinking was supplied to the Emperor from Awaji Island.
The foods from Awaji Island thus received an imperial endorsement, a kind of free publicity handed down from ancient times for the Awaji brand name.
Brand Line up of Awaji Island
Tajima cattle bred on Awaji Island are the breeding cattle for Japan's most famous brands -- Matsuzaka Beef and Kobe Beef. Still today only the finest breeding cattle are selected for systematic mating on the island. Breeders aim constantly to preserve this excellent resource and further improve beef quality.
Red Sea Bream (Tai)
The red sea bream caught in the straits of Awaji Island are so well known throughout Japan that they have their own brands -- Akashi Tai and Naruto Tai. The port of Maruyama is famous for supplying red sea bream to the most recent three emperors: Taisho, Showa and Heisei.
The octopus tastes delicious when caught in early summer as the fields of barley start turning yellow. Many ceramic pots thought to be used for catching octopus have been found on Awaji Island dating back to the Yayoi period (300 BC to 300 AD). Methods for catching octopus have changed little since that time.
Sea Eel (Hamo)
Sea eel, also called "pike conger," have an extremely strong life force. In the ages before refrigeration, it took an entire day and night to transport to Kyoto, but the eels were still alive upon arrival. In landlocked Kyoto, where it was difficult to acquire flesh seafood, sea eels were thus highly valued.
Sand Lance (Ikanago)
Sand lance drying under the sun is a springtime sight in the Inland Sea area. The fish's peak growing season is March to April. On Awaji Island, especially small sand lance known as "kona" are highly valued. These are the main ingredient in a tasty side dish known as "ikanago kugini": tiny fish broiled in sweetened soy sauce with ginger.
Chirimen are semi-dried or fully dried baby sardines and other tiny fish, primarily anchovy fry. It also represents the major sea product in Awaji Island. Chirimen consisting of white anchovy fry of the highest class, selected and dried under the clear skies of Awaji Island, are especially tasty.
Three-Year Pufferfish (Fugu)
Fugu bred for close to three years at the port of Fukura at the southern tip of Awaji Island have gained wide attention. The water and weather conditions in Fukura are unparalleled, producing particularly delectable shirako, the large soft roe of the male fish.
According to ancient taxation records dating to the year 738, the Imperial Court procured milk products from Awaji Island, thought to be butter and cheese. Milk production on Awaji goes back that far in history!
The agricultural product that Awaji Island is perhaps most famous for its onions. The onions grown on Awaji have a high sugar content and wonderful aroma. They have a milder bite than onions grown elsewhere, and feature soft fiber. Many products made with Awaji onions are also widely available, such as onion dressing and onion soup.
Lettuce grown on Awaji Island accounts for 90% of the lettuce consumed in Hyogo Prefecture. Between October and May over 1,000 hectares on the island are planted with this major crop. Especially in winter, special agricultural methods are employed to increase the volume of the lettuce while keeping it tasty and light.
Awaji Island provides an ideal climate for growing mandarins. Also, the sunlight is reflected off the water by the coast, producing a sweet, deep flavor, with well-balanced acidity. Also grown in the region is the Naruto Orange -- a grapefruit-like citrus fruit that has been grown uniquely in the region since Edo period.
Hand-stretched somen noodles
Somen noodles are thin white noodles made of wheat flour. Hand-stretched Awaji somen is made in Fukura, at the southern end of the island. In the coldest part of winter, the noodles are made using a time-honored method originated in Edo period, taking two days.
On Awaji Island, loquats are grown on sloped hillsides in well-drained soil unique to the area. The mountainside, which blocks the wind, combined with abundant sunshine produces high-quality, sweet loquats. Nada Biwa grown at the southern end of the island are a popular brand nationwide for the fine shape, soft flesh and sweetness of the loquats.