The city of Tsuruoka is blessed with a rich selection of food ingredients, provided by the majestic geography that includes mountains, rivers, flatland and sea, as well as the dramatic climate that varies widely in each of the four seasons.
Taking advantage of these food ingredients, the people of Tsuruoka have fostered their unique and colorful food culture by inheriting the local cuisine developed through the wisdom of their ancestors and constant innovation to devise creative dishes in both their daily diets and the food they eat at seasonal ceremonies, as well as in the creation of confectionery and sake. Tsuruoka is blessed with a lot of snow in winter and thus plentiful water from melting snow, therefore The Shonai Plain where Tsuruoka lies is a renowned rice-producing region of Japan.
The rice for sake-brewing is produced in summer and sake is made from highly milled rice in winter. With such a good environment for sake production, seven sake breweries stand in the city.
Moreover, the spiritual side of their food culture has been passed down through traditional events, which include an appreciation of food in the prayers offered for good harvests and affluent lives.
Charm of the food culture
Treasury of food ingredients, blessed by mountains, rivers, plains, sea and the four seasons
The noteworthy “Living Cultural Assets” – Inheritance of heirloom crop varieties
Tradition of the Food Culture of Prayer and challenges for the new gastronomy.
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Black Sea Bream
Dadacha Soy Bean
An heirloom crop of Tsuruoka is famous for its rich flavors, therefore, referred to as the king of soybeans. Only grown in summer so people have just a few weeks to enjoy it.
Gassan Bamboo shoot is one of the many wild vegetables found in the mountains of Tsuruoka and is a key ingredient of the famous Shojin Ryori.
A type of codfish that is used in Tsuruoka’s winter dish Kandara soup and is deeply rooted in our food culture.
A festival to commemorate the loss of Samurai culture in the face of power centralizing again in the emperor’s hand. Held on August 15th at Shonai Shrine in Central Tsuruoka.
A connection to the Kyoto culture where Sugawara no Michizane’s poems were loved by the people. Despite he was exiled therefore forbidden to address, people still wanted to say farewell. So was created the parade where everybody hides their identities.
Yamagata prefecture is famous for its cherry production. People in Japan have a strong image of this region for it’s flavorful and beautiful cherries.
Late August is the Akagawa fireworks competition. This event is in the top 5 of the most popular shows in Japan. A two-hour-long firework choreographed to music.
Beautiful designs stitched with multicolored threads are said to have been created for the amusement of women of samurai families.
Triangle shaped soba seeds called Sankaku Soba is another heirloom crop to Tsuruoka. Although the seeds are smaller they give more soba flour with a stronger aroma and a slightly nutty
Fox’s face shaped confectionery commemorate farmer’s feat when they protected their lord from being transferred out of the region by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Five Storied Pagoda
It is one of the 9 that is titled National Treasures of Japan and the only one surrounded by nature. No nails or paint were used when built and due to heavy snowing the roof sizes are similar so snow falling from the upper roofs would not damage the bottom ones.
Kamo Aquarium built in 1930 had it’s renewal in 2008 and is the biggest aquarium in Japan specialized in jellyfish.
Is a Shinto ritual that has been preserved and passed down for 500 years by parishioners of Kasuga Shrine the local shrine in the Kurokawa district of Tsuruoka.
The Fujishima area of Tsuruoka is the home of lion dance dedicated to a shrine to ward off harmful insects and illness and pray for an abundant harvest and the safety of one’s family.