Japanese Culture and Food: Yamanashi

Like its neighbour, Nagano, Yamanashi is one of Japan’s seven landlocked prefectures. This prefecture has a border with the majestic mount Fuji, which is only one of many grand mountains surrounding this area and creating the fertile Kofu basin.

Japan administrative map. Regions and prefectures. Vector illustration

Culture

Yamanashi was named in 1871, previously the Kofu prefecture, Yamanashi stuck as this area’s name until the present day. This naming is even celebrated by the locals annually on November 20th as Prefectural Citizen’s Day.

One of the most influential aspects of Yamanashi’s history lies in its connections to Tokyo and ports. In the early 1900s, railways were built that connected Yamanashi to these vital areas, and this helped it to thrive in both industry and culture.

As a result of these new connections, however, Yamanashi began to lose the people’s interest as more of its inhabitants escaped to more affluent areas for jobs and holidays. This didn’t last long, however, as various areas of Yamanashi have been built up to bring people in. If you visit Yamanashi in the future you will find lots of theme parks, water parks and hot springs.

Yamanashi is a prefecture of great beauty; over a quarter of all land in this area is protected by national park status, and almost eighty percent of the entire area is covered in woodland and forestry. Yamanashi is often most busy with tourists during the summer hiking season – July and August – when walkers with varying levels of experience take on one of Yamanashi’s many mountains as a challenge to overcome.

Yamanashi also has its own set of festivals that are much loved by locals and tourists alike. The Fujiyoshida Fire Festival, for example, marks the end of the climbing season in August. During this festival, many torches are lit simultaneously in the night, lighting up the streets over a two-day event.

 

Food

This especially mountainous region needs a lot of high-energy dishes to keep its people going. There’s a lot of emphasis on using seasonal vegetables here, which shows an appreciation for nature, too.

Hoto

Loved by residents across the prefecture, hoto is a nutritionally balanced dish that uses noodles, seasonal vegetables and meat in a miso-flavoured broth. This dish is an incredibly tasty staple in Yamanashi that you are likely to find on lots of menus across the prefecture.

If you’re feeling hungry for a Japanese noodle dish after reading this description, then we recommend that you book in a visit at either our Japanese restaurant in Manchester or our Japanese restaurant in Liverpool when we re-open. We have plenty of buckwheat noodle dishes on our menu for you to try and enjoy.

Otsuki Otsukedango

This dish is more specific to a city within the Yamanashi area, specifically Otsuki city, which is in connection with the prefecture’s capital city of Kofu. Otsukedango is a dumpling soup that shares a few similarities with Hoto – it’s a miso-based soup that uses seasonal vegetables – but instead of noodles, the main carbohydrate of this dish is dumpling.

Fuji-Mabushi

This is a delectable trout-based dish that uses rainbow trout as its core component. At the bottom of the dish is a layer of rice, topped by the rainbow trout, followed by another layer of rice which is then topped with garnishes and flavourings. Lastly, the ochazuke broth is poured into the bowl to let all the flavours mingle together.

This blog has been the final instalment of the Koshin’etsu region part of our series. Next, we’ll be moving into Kanto to think about which foods the locals love most in the areas surrounding Japan’s capital city – Tokyo.

We look forward to seeing you again for more delicious food when we re-open after the lockdown!

Stay tuned for more insights into Japanese culture and food!