Japanese Culture and Food: Akita
In this series of blogs, we are slowly moving south from Sapporo’s home prefecture of Hokkaido, through the land of Japan to detail the rich cultural and gastronomical experiences that astound thousands of tourists every year. When you visit our sushi bar in Manchester or our sushi bar in Liverpool, make sure that you keep an eye out for some of the dishes featuring in this blog.
North of Japan, bordering Aomori and close to Hokkaido lies Akita; roughly 181 km north to south and 111 km west to east. It is known for mountainous ranges and cold winters, especially away from the sea. You can expect to find a lot of beautiful scenery in this region, as no less than 11% is designated as Natural Parks.
Despite the abundance of nature, Akita has plenty of cities too, including the eponymous Akita city, Yuzawa and Oga. Being surrounded by so many mountains, Akita is somewhat cut off from the rest of the Japanese mainland and it suffers from a severe ageing population. This is problematic given that the young people migrate to the cities and the economy of this prefecture is dominated by agriculture, fishing, and forestry.
Akita has plenty of interesting pieces of culture; well known for its saké breweries, it also has the highest consumption of saké in all of Japan – impressive! Colloquially, some may even refer to Akita as the ‘land of saké’ with its opulent rice gardens, Master Brewers and unique brewing techniques.
Saké shouldn’t be the only item on your agenda if you’re planning to experience this prefecture in full – it’s also thought that the extremely popular Akita breed of dog has its origins in this place. The Akita itself is famous for starring in various Hollywood movies, as well as the Doge meme. Thought to be related to the Spitz breed, and Akita is a strong and emotive companion in many households worldwide.
When researching Akita, you may also find mention of the Akita Bijin, referring to the beautiful women of Akita. This history of beautiful women may have its roots in the 9th Century when Ono no Komachi was practicing poetry. She is considered one of the best waka poets of the Heian period but is also renowned for her beauty. Even today, the word Komachi is synonymous with feminine beauty.
When visiting Akita, visiting Kakunodate should be near the top of most tourist’s to-do lists. This Old Town is sometimes referred to as Little Kyoto because of its fully preserved samurai houses. There is also the Aoyagi house which was once home to a revolutionary Japanese doctor.
Food from Akita
Due to the cold temperatures in this region, hot and fiery foods are quite popular here. This means that if you are looking to experience an Akita dining experience, you should try a hotpot and a heart-warming saké.
This chicken rice bowl that uses top quality grade chicken meat, originally bred in the Akita prefecture. In the past, this used to be a dish that only the elite of society were permitted to enjoy, but nowadays, HInai chicken can be enjoyed by everyone.
We also love chicken in our restaurants, where you can find and enjoy our Katsu Chicken, smoked chicken rolls, miso chicken and various chicken fillets.
This hot pot is made from local traditional foods, including mashed rice and miso sauce. Akita holds a festival celebrating this dish annually, always during the first weekend of October. In 2017, it attracted more than 130,000 people who were hungry to try this special soup in all its different styles.
Not a food, to be sure, but Akita’s delectable saké should never be lightly brushed over. We have already talked a little about the importance of saké in Akita, so instead we’ll talk about the saké we sell from the bars in our restaurants.
There are many ways to enjoy saké, warm or chilled, carafe or cup, and we have three different variations of saké available for you to purchase. Of course, we also sell by the bottle if you decide that you wish to take a piece of Japan home with you after visiting us.
Please bear in mind that by ‘cup’, we are not referring to a standard English mug, but instead a small piece of ceramic especially made for enjoying sake.
If you are planning a visit to Japan soon, then you should test your palate on some authentic Japanese cuisine by visiting one or both of our Japanese restaurants Manchester and Liverpool before you leave. Alternatively, if you’re not planning a visit to beautiful Japan, you can get a bit closer from Britain by trying our dishes.