Fukushima is one of the top historic places to visit in Japan. Exploring the historic landmarks is a must thing to do there. Apart from discovering those attractions, there you find a plenty of activities that include hiking, hot springs bath, fishing, fruit picking, skiing, cycling, and many more.

Whatever you do in Fukushima, in the end you would be tired and hungry. What makes your body and mind energetic is the food. Am I right?

As Fukushima is an impressive place to roam around except the no-entry zone around the nuclear plant, finding the traditional cuisine in the prefecture is not a daunting task for you. Just head to one of the restaurants you see while roaming around and order some. That’s it!

Soba with green onion, Fukushima. Photo Credit: makipapa at Flickr.

Often people are concerned about whether they should visit Fukushima or not. My advice to you is “why not, let’s face it and discover the top attractions and satisfy the stomach eating the delicious foods that it offers. It is better to tell you that in 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region.

The result was devastating; the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered a major damage with more than 20,000 people died and went missing. However, it is safe to travel to Fukushima now. And of course it is safe to have the foods prepared by chefs and vegetables and fruits grown by the farmers there. No fear!

1) Kozuyu

Kozuyu – soup dish! Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Kozuyu is a traditional soup dish of Aizu (one of the three regions of Fukushima prefecture) that is quite popular in this area. The food is usually served and eaten for promising occasions such as birthday, New Year holidays, festivals and ceremonial occasions. This is certainly the top local dish you could ever taste in Aizu region.

The soup is very delicious; often words can’t describe its taste but only you can feel it inside in your body. There is a custom that it is severed in exclusive blows, called Teshio-zara (red lacquer). How cool is that!

Usually, it is made from dried scallop (main ingredient), shiitake mushroom, carrots, katuobushi, konnyaku jelly noodles, soy sauce, kombu, bamboo shoot, and you can add other vegetables based on your preference. You might have a question in your mind that why to use dried scallop?

The real fact is that in the past it was really hard to get fresh raw fish/seafood in Aizu area as it is surrounded by the mountains. Therefore, at the time for the locals there was no option instead of using dried scallops or fish. If you are impressed and already have wished to taste it then please head to one of the restaurants in Aizu. Have a great time there eating this traditional soup.

2) Shirakawa Daruma Burger

Does not it look very cute? Photo Credit: Travel to Tohoku.

What’s your goal for the upcoming days? Are you keeping an eye on your dreams? In Japanese culture, people have a special attention to Daruma doll which is said to be one of the most popular Japanese amulets of good luck. It helps you achieving your goals/dreams and it does work!

I don’t know if you would find it interesting eating a Shirakawa daruma burger in Shirakawa city located southern Fukushima prefecture. Can it bring luck to you? That’s the real question, I have no real evidence or experience though but I have had it several times. Please note that daruma is a traditional craft of Shirakawa city.

It is a first food as you see the word burger, made of carefully-chosen ingredients, high quality buns (made of 100% rice flour), local pork raised in Shirakawa Highland, and rainbow trout. The shape of the buns is really cute as it comes in a heart-shaped form with an “I LOVE 白河(Shirakawa)” logo are designed using the “Shirakawa Daruma motif with curry flavor, cheese and tomato. I think it is much healthier then McDonald’s burger.

3) Aizu Soba

Aizu Soba Noodles. Photo Credit: M Murakami at Flickr.

Aizu is one of the most visited touristic spots in Fukushima, and blessed with rich soil and beautiful nature in which source of pure water is abundant. Guess what? It means buckwheat cultivation there is huge. In fact, every year, Aizu produces a high quality of buckwheat.

You know what, Aizu is often said to be a City of Soba! Its buckwheat noodles are chewy, sweet, and possess a beautiful aroma. The taste of Aizu soba is amazingly delicious! If you are keen to take the dining experience to a new level then eating soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) in Aizu would be exactly what you must need to fulfill your dream. In addition, you can also try Negi-soba.

4) Kitakata Ramen

Kitakata Ramen Dish. Photo Credit: Travel Fukushima Japan.

What are the most famous types of ramen noodles in Japan? To answer this, first I would like to say that Kitakata ramen is unusual. I would certainly tell you why it is so. If you ever visit Kitakata city, please make sure you go to Genraikan.

It is said to be the first ever ramen store built in the city in 1926 by Bankinsei (A young Chinese man who came there from China in search of her grandfather). Okay, the most popular types of ramen are: Sapporo, Hakata, and Kitakata. These are the top three ramen noodles you can try in the land of the rising sun. Usually, ramen noodles tend to be straight and thin. A moment ago I have told you that Kitakata ramen is unusual – do you know why? It is because the noodles used for making this are wavy, thick, flat, slippery, and slightly softer.

Spring onions, simmered bamboo shoots, cured fish cake, sliced pork are the main ingredients used to make yummy kitakata ramen. You can buy readily available soy sauce from the stores located around the city. This special type of sauce hardly gets out of stock! Anytime you go there, you find it for sure! To make the stock Niboshi, Tonkotsu (pig bones) and vegetables are boiled.

Then the soy sauce-flavored soup and noodles are topped with the ingredients listed above. It is a refreshing noodle dish that can be eaten all year round. In fact, the small city – Kitakata is famous for this traditional ramen dish and a lot of foodies from other parts of Japan come to this city and enjoy this sort of special ramen. I often say to my friends “fall in love with this”. Anyway, are you going to?

5) Grapes

Juicy grapes. Photo Credit: Miroslav Vajdic at Flickr.

Fukushima’s fertile land is quite favorable for growing fruits of different kinds in a large numbers. You know, often Fukushima is said to be a fruit kingdom of Japan. If you ever take a stroll through the path in a fruit farm then sweet aroma of the fresh fruits would make you real hungry. In Fukushima, peaches, cherries, pears, grapes, apples, persimmons, strawberries, and nashi pears are produced greatly. Among these fruits grapes and peaches dominate the whole region.

However, it is regarded is a major grape producing region in Japan. You can taste many varieties of freshly picked grapes from the orchards, especially try eating kyoho, azuma shibuki, and takao varieties as they are quite popular in the region. One notable fruit orchard is called Azuma Fruit Park.

You can visit the site and taste freshly picked grapes including other seasonal fruits. Grape picking season usually starts here in early September. Fukushima’s grapes are seedless, sweet, and large, with softer flesh and acidity. Is there anyone who wants to try this fruit?

6) Peaches

Peaches in Fukushima. Photo Credit: Norio Nomura at Flickr.

Don’t just spend your time eating the grapes you find elsewhere in Fukushima. Please spend some times for peaches as well! Fukushima is the country’s second largest producer of peaches. Knowing this fact you can get a clear picture of how famous this fruit is in this region. In early spring, stunning view of peach blossoms at the orchards will blow your mind. Seriously you will be overwhelmed!

The peaches grown here are sweet and very attractive to look at as they have a gentle pick color. July is the perfect month for picking peaches. If you arrive in Fukushima during that time, you would see peach trees laden with these large fruits in many areas. Anyone looking to know what to do in Fukushima in July should be prepared to pick fresh peaches off the trees. Good luck guys!

7) Nishin-No-Sansho-Zuke (Herring pickled with Sansho)

Herring pickled with Sansho. Photo Credit: Tourist Information Fukushima.

Again it is about dry fish! Terrified? Don’t be! It is a special side dish that goes really well with drinks like sake. It is one of the most popular local specialties of Fukushima. I guess not many Japan enthusiasts are familiar with this one but only few as it is regarded a unique dried-fish dish only to be found in Aizu region. The fish that is used to pickle is called herring. The idea of making this delicious dish is really simple.

Firstly, fishes are gutted, cleaned and then dried. Then they are layered with the leaves of sansho peper and pickled in liquor prepared from sake, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. Nevertheless to say that whole pickling process and properly use of sansho pepper give the fish an amazing taste not only because of its strong aroma but also the sour taste.

There is a special kind of ceramic serving bowls produced by local ceramics craftsmen in Aizu. In fact, with this sort of traditional bowls, the pickled herring is served.

8) Wappa Meshi

Wappa Meshi at Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima. Photo Credit: mari at Flickr.

Whenever I visit Aizu area (in Fukushima) and Niigata I never ever forget to eat Wappa Meshi. It is a traditional Japanese dish served in a special round container called Mega Wappa (made of thin wooden sheets) People living in Aizu area and Niigata love having Wappa Meshi. The wappa is kind of a Bento box substitute, quite delicate and very handy to carry elsewhere.

This is a cute lunch box that was used by the woodcutters of Hinoemata village for over 600 years. I once went to this village, located in Minamiaizu District and I was delighted having my lunch there as well as seeing the surrounding mountains.

The steamed rice I ate from the wappa I was given was incredibly delicious. That was a great experience, unforgettable! Usually the container contains a variety of dishes made with seasonal vegetables and sea foods. All the dishes are to arrange perfectly in the container (wappa) before eating them.

9) Gyoza – Fukushima Style

Fukushima Style Gyoza. Photo Credit: Hajime NAKANO at Flickr.

If you are into dumpling then this is the right dish for you. Fukushim style Gyoza is a disk-shaped pan friend dumpling, served with sauce. They are arranged in the form of a disk and then placed in a frying pan. After they are well fried, the crispy Gyozas are served in this disk-shaped exactly as they were cooked. I actually like the way Gyoza (dumplings) is cooked. Probably it would be very easy for you to make some if you bake a lot at home.

Honestly, you may find various types of Gyoza in many restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka, but Fukushima’s Gyoza is the best of all. In fact, taste of this traditional dish could vary even in Fukushima.

Not all the restaurants in Fukushima follow the same sort of Gyoza recipe; rather each of them uses different ingredients such as the different seasoning sauce. Just hold the chopsticks, pick a gyoza with them and dip it into the sauce then put it on your mouth, that’s the perfect way to have it.

10) Sake

Want to taste these? Visit Fukushima then! Photo Credit: Travel Fukushima Japan.

Let’s get familiar with Fukushima’s sake now. It is said that a trip to Fukushima is not complete without drinking its traditional style of sake. Seriously, you have to drink some in order to feel the local culture and the spirit of Japanese people. There are dozens of sake varieties you could taste separately in all three areas of Fukushima: Aizu, Nakadori, and Hamadori.

Fukushima’s abundance of high quality rice, pure water and rice koji lead sake brewers making tasty sake to drink all year round. Sake brewing process is not an easy task though as it needs a great deal of time and labor. However, sake brewers in Fukushima would delight you with their various kinds of sake. Be sure of that!

Visiting Fukushima for the first time? If so then I think you have no idea about the traditional foods people eat there. However, this post has revealed it and hopefully you don’t need to search elsewhere anymore as these are the most popular local specialties that Fukushima could offer you.