Partnered with 6 cities in 4 countries and more to come!

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 journey’s around the world.

Mr. Tadano Katakura
Mr. Ryo Ito

“Feast of Tsuruoka” inspired by Mt. Haguro’s worship
A fusion of Tsuruoka’s and Parma’s cuisine

1. Parma pork marinated in tomato koji and miso, finished up in “Tsutsugamushi” style

 Shoreisai; a festival on New Year’s Eve, where worshippers of mountain asceticism gather to cast away evil spirits by burning straw called “Tsutsugamushi” and pray for a prosperous harvest. After religious ceremonies the sake offered to the gods is served to worshippers as a ritual to become one with god. 
 These elements of the festival are incorporated into the dish by steaming Parma pork with sake and straw.

2. Onigiri (rice ball) with Tsuyahime rice and Dadacha soy beans

 According to the myth the founder of Mt. Haguro’s worship was guided by a three legged crow. Symbolizing the crow, black rice was cultivated as on offering to gods. Serving rice balls to the participants of Shoreisai festival is a tradition. Dadacha soy bean is a special variety only cultivated in Tsuruoka city. According to the tale “Dadacha” meaning “dad” got its name from the feudal lord who was fond of the beans and wanted to know which “Dadacha” men grew the beans. 
 Gaining inspiration from these traditions the chef created a rice ball using the high quality Tsuyahime rice with Dadacha soy beans and kochia seeds.

3. The fusion of Parma and Tsuruoka on a skewer

 15th of July is the Flower Festival on Mt. Haguro. The purpose of this festival is to pray for a prosperous harvest. Artificial flowers shaped as the rice plant’s flower are paraded around on a 5-6m rod for worshippers to fight for since these flowers also act as lucky charms.  During this festival a special skewer meal is offered with: konjac, potato, carrot, deep-fried tofu and kelp.
 By eating this meal it is believed that one can absorb the energy of the universe.
This time

 ① Bamboo shoot with Parma ham 
 ② Carrot with sake lees 
 ③ Taro with truffles 
 ④ Artichokes 
 ⑤ Tsuyahime rice dessert will be served on the skewer.

Chefs Exchange

Partnered with 6 cities in 4 countries and more to come!

Since becoming a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, our city receives countable invitations from all over the world to attend events, cooking shows, competitions each year.

To seize these valuable opportunities of exchange, Tsuruoka city launched a program for chefs to support them in the application process and preparation for their journey. In this program local chefs register to a contact list as a representative of Tsuruokas food culture to gain access to these opportunities first hand.

Our chefs bring their knowledge of local gastronomy and unique ingredients in dishes that combine Tsuruoka's food culture with the city's they are visiting. By their experiences abroad chefs create a new way of cooking with local ingredients that blends different cultures on one plate.

Our city is looking for further exchanges where each party can learn from one another and develop a more sustainable food culture.

School Lunch

Tsuruoka is the birthplace of school lunch in Japan

School lunch is served in Tsuruoka since 1889, they first served it in Daitokuji Temple.

Tsuruoka's now famous School Lunch Center was built in 1987, currently serving thousands of elementary and middle school students in the city.

Yamagata Prefecture has a 140% food self-sufficiency rate which allows us to nurture the next generation using mainly local ingredients. Nearly 70% of the ingredients prepared in the center are locally produced by farmers. Some of them specially grow vegetables, or offer a low price to the center to keep the school lunch sustainable.

Proudly being the birthplace of school lunch in Japan, Tsuruoka aims to nurture students on healthy eating, the importance of a well-balanced nutritious meal and how to protect the natural environment to preserve our food culture.

Successors of Food Culture

Currently there are 60 registered heirloom crops in Tsuruoka

Preserving the knowledge of our food culture is an evergrowing difficulty as Japan is an aging society.

Our city ma it's goal to protect its most valuable assets of knowledge in order to nurture the local food culture. Farmers and various individuals collaborated in a project to preserve our city's unique gastronomy. Successors of food culture were interviewed to share their knowedge and stories.

This project allows us not to just save data but to pass down precious knowlegde to the next generations.

We hope by protecting the information and the stories of these unique individuals our city can maintain its gastronomic characteristics.

Field Study

More than 180 students, researchers, chefs and culinary experts visited us from the Univerity of Gastronomic Sciences;

Tsuji Culinary Institute

Since late 2016 Tsuruoka started to welcome studennts, researchers, chefs and gastronomic experts from all around the world. As the only UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in Japan currently our city represents the country's gastronomy in the Network.

Students learn on sustainable food culture, by visiting farmers, enterpreneurs, food experts and they are introduced to various gastronomic aspects of our city.

During their visit they learn about wild vegetables, ascetic cuisine, unique preservation techniques, farming, foraging, sake, pickles, marine culture and the connection between people and nature.

We hope those whom visit us can distribute their knowledge that they gained on our gastronomy and utilize this experience in applying it to a new mre sustainable future.

Crops that are cultivated locally over generations; farmers do the seed collecting and breeding by themselfs; used in local cuisine particularly in ritual and ceremonial dishes, are called heirloom to this region.


The one and only UCCN City of Gastronomy in Japan. Nestled between the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa and the Sea of Japan, Tsuruoka City is home to 3 Japan Heritage Sites and is the largest municipality in the Tohoku region.

Come and experience the hidden side of Japan and traditional cuisine!