Hotels, ryokans (Japanese style inns and eating and drinking establishments in Hirado city are to simultaneously start offering whale cuisine on new speciality product menus. A final taste testing event was held at the city's northern community centre on the 18th.More coverage of this story can be found in Japanese here.
Whale food culture permeated through the Hirado region, where whaling history extended from the Edo era (1603 ~ 1867) to early Showa (1925 ~ 1989). The Hirado and Matsuura regions tourism human resource development council, made up of local government and commerce and industry associations from Hirado and Matsuura was commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to work towards the creation of the new speciality food menus.
Around 30 people from local women's groups and tourism operators were invited to the taste testing event, where the Hirado industry cooperative prepared four dishes, and the Hirado food and drink industry produced ten. In addition to standards such as sashimi, items including shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, chilli sauce, bacon pizza and salads made up the elaborate new menu.
Takada Kumiko (56), a Hirado city tourist guide from Iwanoue town was full of expectation, saying "This was my first time to eat it, but it is surprisingly delicious. My image of whale has changed. Many middle aged and older people have a desire to eat whale meat, so I can confidently recommend this to them. I hope it becomes a Hirado speciality".
Once the cooperatives have reviewed the results of questionnaires from the test tasting event, they will decide on respective items to be included in the unified menu. They will start promoting the menus to tourists from next month.
Brandifying modern whale cuisine - Hirado's whaling history for tourism - Sales from mid-FebruaryInteresting stuff. I suppose western environmental groups might suggest that Hirado residents look to boost tourism through whale watching instead of whale cuisine, but the people who decide the way forward will be the people who are actually stakeholders, and they will do so in accordance with their own cultural values.
On the 18th, Hirado city's restaurant business unveiled modern dishes using whale meat, as they set to bring "whale cuisine" to the market as a new brand for the region, leveraging the region's Edo era history as a prosperous whaling post. In Hirado city, the Hirado Tourism Association is conducting an experiment to test the concept of "dinner / lodging separation", where by tourists are lodged over night in hotels and ryokans, but enjoy local speciality food for dinner in the town. The association aims to appeal to tourists and reinvigorate the region through the development of the unique menus.
This was the second such event since November last year, being conducted as a part of a joint project between Hirado city and the Matsuura region to develop tourism human resources.
Whaling was well underway in the waters of Genkainada based out of Ikitsuki Island (a part of modern day Hirado city) by the early stages of the 18th century. By the 19th century, the "Masutomi group" had expanded their fishing grounds into Iki and Goto, making the group the largest kujira-gumi in Japan. Later, yields reduced and traditional whaling waned.
"Tasty", was the word on the lips of most participants. The same cooperative apparently has plans to offer various whale cuisine in conjunction with the "Hirado hot springs / castle town doll festival", in which hina dolls will be displayed in 130 locations throughout the urban area.
Building on this historical background, the thought is that the creation of "whale cuisine" peculiar to the region, following on from the "Hirado Flounder" that was introduced in January 1997 as a regional brand, will become a new tourist attraction, and boost sluggish tourist numbers in the region.
Restaurant operator Miyakuni Kazuhiko (30), a resident of Kouyamachi, Hirado city, who entered a pie offering to the event, said "we got rid of the smell of whale meat, and softened it by marinating it overnight in salad oil, olive oil, and ginger and laurier. I really hope people will taste this healthy sensation".
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