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Located in the Shōnai region of Yamagata Prefecture along the Sea of Japan, Tsuruoka is a city of approximately 1,300 square kilometres and home to 122,347 residents, making it the largest administrative division in the Tōhoku region. The city is blessed with abundant natural resources, distinct seasonal changes, and a variety of landscapes, allowing traditional industries such as rice cultivation, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and sake-brewing to develop well into the present day. The people of Tsuruoka have fostered their unique and colourful gastronomic culture through careful conservation of local cuisine, as well as constant innovation to create new and creative dishes, which are then incorporated into their daily diets and ceremonial practices. 




UNESCO's City of Gastronomy is part of the wider Creative City Network established in 2014.

Jul 2011

Committee for Promotion of Tsuruoka Creative City of Gastronomy is established

Oct 2011

Visited UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. Start of gastronomic projects by Japanese Cultural Centre in Paris

Nov 2011

Attended UNESCO Annual Conference as a Candidate City and presented the allure of Tsuruoka's gastronomy as well as the vision for the future.

Dec 2011

Stopped application process to be a member city

Apr 2012

Awarded 2011 Commissioner o Cultural Affairs (Culture and Arts Creative City Division)

Aug 2012

Submission of request form to resume application to be a member of the City of Gastronomy Network

Feb 2013

Submission of application to visit UNESCO HQ

Jul 2013

Resume application to be a member of the City of Gastronomy Network and evaluation of application

Oct 2013

Release of new application procedure to be a member of City of Gastronomy

Mar 2014

Submission of application according to the new procedure

Sep 2014

Attended UNESCO Creative City Network Anual Conference in Chengdu, China

Dec 2014

Designated as UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy


The logo depicts the different elements that make up the unique gastronomy of Tsuruoka City

*Hover over the elements to find out more*


Asian fawn lilies (katakuri)

Blooms during April in Asahi area

Black sea bream 

Famous seafood of Yamagata Prefecture


Famous produce of Yamagata Prefecture

Cherry Salmon

Seasonal fish only available during spring


Fox's face shaped to commemorate the god for protecting the ruling lord



Famous edamame in Japan. Unique to Tsuruoka

Fireworks competition

Top 5 popular show in Japan held in August

Five-storied pagoda

Designated as a national treasure of Japan

Gassan bamboo shoot

Mountain vegetable grown at the foot of Mt. Gassan


Decorative silk thread ball with long tradition


Over 60 different varieties of grapes available

Iwagaki oyster

Naturally grown along coastal reefs of the Sea of Japan

Japanese wisteria

Wisteria festival held during May in Fujishima area


Kamo Aquarium: famous for collection of jellyfish species

Kandara cod

Seasonal winter fish typically eaten as "dongara-jiru"

Kurokawa Noh

Unique Shinto ritual practiced over 500 years

Lion dance

Traditional lion dance performed in Fujishima area


Sweet, juicy and flavourful fruit eaten in summer

Minden eggplant

Heirloom crop of Tsuruoka with long history

Mōsō bamboo shoot

Used in Mōsō soup, Tsuruoka's representative spring dish


Naturally grown mushrooms harvested from the mountains

Red turnip

Heirloom crop of Tsuruoka cultivated using slash-and-burn method


Good rice + clean water = excellent sake


Collected and saved and passed down for generations

Shonai persimmon

Heirloom crop cultivated throughout Shonai

Shonai pork

Ethnically raised, producing high quality meat

Shonai rice

Delicious varieties of rice grown in Shonai Plain

Shonai Taisai

Local parade that celebrates our history as a castle town


Sankaku Soba (Triangle buckwheat), an heirloom crop

Torii gate

Traditional Japanese gate found within Shinto Shrines


Delicious squid dried overnight from Nezugaseki area

Tenjin Festival

aka Ghost Festival, takes place annually


Wild vegetable collected during spring

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