【Yamato Koji Park –Koji Handbath–】
Situated right next to the seaside, Yamato Koji Park in the Ono District is a theme park focused on koji (cultured rice grains), which is essential to Japanese traditional fermented food brewing. Run by Yamato Soysauce & Miso Co., Ltd, a time-honored brewery, they really have everything – shopping, dining, and interactive exhibition facilities – to spark visitors’ interest in koji.
After learning about the history of the company and manufacturing processes of soy sauce and miso brewing, Maria enjoyed a hand bath containing dissolved koji. As she soaked her hands in the hot koji water, Mr. Yamamoto, the president of the company, explained to Maria how this magical mold is rich in active enzymes and is said to moisturize the skin. He also told her about how they had developed a unique koji skincare product.
Do you want to know how the koji hand bath worked afterwards? Within five minutes, Maria found it had helped to soften and smooth her hands.
【Yamato Koji Park –Shopping–】
Founded in 1911, Yamato Soysauce & Miso manufactures high-quality traditional fermented food and related new products using old-fashioned brewing methods. They have a factory shop full of various types of soy sauce and miso with different flavors and tastes, salted koji (this breaks down proteins to bring richer flavors to meat and fish while also tenderizing it), ponzu soy sauce (made of soy sauce and citrus juice), and dressings, etc. Maria enjoyed tasting amazake, which is a traditional non-alcoholic rice drink. She said, “it’s lightly sweet and tremendously fragrant. It’s really tasty!”
Don’t forget to try some soy sauce ice cream, a popular frozen treat that tastes like caramel. If you have a sweet tooth, pour a few drops of specially mixed sweet soy sauce onto the ice cream.
They also use koji in their delicious healthy dishes. “I’ll have a lunch next time,” promised Maria.
Web : http://www.yamato-soysauce-miso.com
After understanding the depth of Japanese fermented food culture, let’s explore the town.
Easily reached from the city center of Kanazawa, the Ono District, with its sleepy, old-fashioned atmosphere, is one of the best weekend getaways for people who want to chill out. A number of its old buildings have been renovated and turned into cozy restaurants, galleries, and shops that are only open on the weekend, making the district more attractive.
Maria strolled down the street, enjoying the smell of soy sauce and the sea that filled the air, saying, “It makes me feel refreshed.” She told us that she liked rural Japan better than urban areas because the quiet, calming towns brought her much closer to the Japanese culture and life.
【Sushi Lunch at Ono District】
Now it’s time for a sushi lunch at Hosho Zushi, a long-time favorite sushi restaurant in the Ono District. Perfectly located near Kanazawa Port, they serve up an abundance of the freshest local fish.
Open the classic noren curtains that hang across the entrance and you’ll be greeted warmly by the friendly staff. Lunch sets including sushi, a side dish, miso soup, and soy sauce ice cream are available.
The restaurant itself is a converted classic wooden house, and Maria also appreciates the dignified interior and exterior that preserve the original atmosphere of the building.
After satisfying your appetite, let’s head for Omi-cho Market, a vibrant hub of the local food culture.
Web : http://www.housyouzushi.co.jp
Here we are at Omi-cho Market. Established in its current form in 1721, this “Kanazawa’s kitchen” has been supporting the gastronomic culture of the city for nearly 300 years. The market boasts about 180 vendors selling a wide variety of products, including fresh seafood, local vegetables, prepared foods, tofu, snacks, flowers, clothes, and daily necessities. Maria meanders through the colorful market as the cheerful and loud market vendors shout to get the attention of buyers.
Omi-cho Market also has a number of eateries that take advantage of the market’s bounty. Maria was completely full at that time, but if all this walking has you feeling hungry, you might wish to enjoy some takeout food!
Web : http://ohmicho-ichiba.com
【Ame-no Tawaraya –Traditional Candy Shop–】
Our final stop is Ame-no Tawaraya, an old-fashioned candy shop that sells candies and thick syrups made using only rice and barley.
The candy-making process is time-consuming, taking four days from start to finish. Simply put, this allows the enzymes in the barley malt to saccharify the starches in the rice. “It’s amazing that ancient people discovered such a chemical reaction,” says Maria.
She bought a thick malt syrup called Jiroame, one of the shop’s most popular products. You can use bamboo chopsticks to decant some of the syrup out of a tub and into a jar, and then take it with you as a souvenir.
Web : http://www.ame-tawaraya.co.jp
To complete the food culture experience, we visited a ryotei. As you know, a ryotei is a luxurious restaurant that serves the Japanese haute cuisine kaiseki ryori. This consists of a series of small dishes that are immaculately prepared and presented to reflect the seasons. The historic city of Kanazawa boasts a large concentration of ryotei that carry on the traditions and culture of the region to today, including its cuisine, architecture, gardens, furnishings, and art. “There is something special about walking through a fusuma sliding door into an elegant tatami room with a gracious garden,” said Maria as she entered a ryotei for the first time.
The kaiseki ryori dinner in one of the best ryotei in Kanazawa excited and enthused Maria. “It’s a great pleasure to get a feel of Japan from the five senses,” she said.
Other Recommended Facilities
【Kanko Bussankan (Ishikawa Souvenir Shopping Center)】
Open : 10 am to 6 pm - Closed : Tuesdays of Dec. to Mar.
Address : 2-20 Kenroku-machi
Contact : Tel. 076-222-7788, fax. 076-222-5183
Web : http://kanazawa-kankou.jp/
Open : 10 am to 7 pm - Closed : Year-end and New Year’s holiday
Address : 2-8-3, Ishibiki
Contact : Tel. 076-223-1117, fax. 076-223-1116
Web : http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english/
【Aoki Cooking School】
Adress : 1-1-17 Naga-machi
Tel : 076-231-2501
Web : http://aokicooking.com/index.htm
Open : 8:30 am to 5 pm -Open 365 days a year
Adesso : 2-3-32 Nagamachi
Tel : 076-264-4223
Web : https://www.wagashi-murakami.com
【Kuromon koji (Meitetsu M’za)】
Open : 10 am to 7:30 pm (some restaurants open until 9 pm)
Adress : 15-1 Mursashi-machi,
Tel : 076-260-2195
Web : http://www.meitetsumza.com/kuromon/translat/english.html
Food Culture Walk Map