UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy

Our Mission

Since the UCCN designation in December 2014, Tsuruoka has been continuously undertaking various projects and initiatives in order to foster Tsuruoka's gastronomy in accordance with the Mission Statement of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. With these continuous efforts and extensive cooperation from partners and collaborators, gastronomy is now a principal driver of further development in food-related industries in Tsuruoka.

Thanks to an array of awareness-raising activities that were implemented over the past several years, the gastronomic community is invigorated through various offerings in the city and vibrant cityscape of gastronomy continues to be nurtured.




Tsuruoka has collaborated with various other cities in exchanges of chefs. Furthermore launched a sponsor program for registered representatives of our food culture to support them on their international journeys around the world.



"diet for life"

Tsuruoka City is surrounded by the towering Three Mountains of Dewa which served as a sacred place of pilgrimage for Yamabushi mountain monks for over a thousand years. The religious practices of Shugendo which is a syncretism of various religions in Japan formed the ascetic cuisine, "shojin-ryori". The dishes are created with traditional and unique techniques of food preservation of these local ingredients that are often referred as a "diet for life".


largest rice producer
in Japan


1 312 km²

heirloom crops




of school lunch
in Japan


Heirloom Crops

Local families and communities have kept the knowledge behind seed harvesting and selection. Thanks to their efforts varieties of crops adapted to our climate making them heirloom to our city. Passing down this knowledge is important in protecting our food culture. As Japan's society ages we face the fear of losing the wisdom of our ancestors.

Today Tsuruoka has 60 varieties of heirloom crops registered. To preserve the information on them, we collected a list of these crops and would like to share the stories of locals who made their utmost effort to pass them down to the next generations.


The tradition of eating fish had deeply engraved in Japanese food culture. Finding a good balance between protecting nature and keeping traditions is one of our main goals.

Strict regulations can help in saving the natural environment. In Tsuruoka, fishermen try to maintain a healthy fish population by regulating within their communities. However, in the face of global warming, we have to turn to different tools to maintain the fish population.

The Yamagata Prefectural Marine Center's work in Tsuruoka is to release juvenile fish into the sea after they harvested eggs and developed them in a controlled environment while carrying out continuous researches to maintain a sustainable fish population.




Located in Yamagata prefecture which is famous for it's mountain landscape, Tsuruoka is blessed with various edible wild plants, mushrooms and natural sources of fresh water.

Thanks to the towering mountains around the city, people were able to survive the hardest winters on preserved food which ingredients were gathered in nature.

Many local dishes feature wild plants and the blessings of the mountains.


Located in the Shonai region surrounded by mountains and the Japan Sea, the city is in a secluded area with a unique climate that had 4 very distinguishable seasons. These naturally occurring effects created a flourishing environment for growing crops.

Along being famous for quality rice production and various heirloom crops, Tsuruoka is a suitable place for farming thanks to freshwater streams and snowmelt water from the mountains that fill up the plains with life.


Located on the Japan seaside, the city' coastline is one of the shortest in Japan but has variable natural features from rocky to sandy beaches.

Rivers flowing from the mountains through the plains into the sea, fish can develop on a feed that grew in bountiful minerals.

Although the area has a small quantity of fish, it is high in quality and various kind can be caught here.

Contact us

TEL: +81-235-25-2111

FAX: +81-235-25-2990

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