21 December, 2011

Looking back on 2011…

 There are only a few days left of this year. How have you spent 2011?

 In March, Japan was stuck by a terrible and unprecedented disaster; the Great East Japan Earthquake. Japan has moved on to the recovery and reconstruction phase with a lot of help from foreign countries.
 Your visits to Japan will encourage a prompt recovery and reconstruction of from the devastation. So we look forward to your trip to Japan.
 We have also had a similar experience, in the form of the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. We feel a deep sympathy for the people of Tohoku and will continue with our support for rebuilding the damaged areas.
 We are praying for a speedy and complete recovery for Tohoku.

 Well, we have written several series with various themes like gourmet, art, outdoor activities etc in our blog throughout this year. Did you enjoy our blog?
 We will continue to report on Japanese culture and sightseeing information in Hyogo so make sure to check back in 2012!
 We do hope you will let us know if you have any topics that you would like to read about. Please send your email to:

 We wish you a Happy New Year!

 Don't miss our next issue!

HanaHyogo Tourism Association)

20 December, 2011

Sobameshi & Bokkake!

 This issue covers two more local delicacies, Sobameshi and Bokkake, from Nagata Ward, Kobe City.

 Sobameshi is said to have been started by female factory workers. They mixed cold rice in their lunch box with Chinese-style wheat noodles and locally-produced Worcester sauce on a hot iron plate (Teppan) at Okonomiyaki restaurants.

 You can enjoy the light taste and texture of the noodles, rice and the sauce only in Nagata where people are most enthusiastic about Konamon. Flour-based food, such as Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Udon noodles and Soba noodles, are collectively known as Konamon in the Kansai area.

 “Bokkake” is a dish using small cuts of hashed beef gristle and chopped konnyaku with sweet 'n'spicy sauce. Bokkake is used as a savory ingredient with a crunchy texture for curry, rice, Okonomiyaki and Udon noodles.

 You will see a large number of signs saying “Soba-meshi is served here!” or “Bokkake is served here!” around JR Shin Nagata Station.

Banner for "Sobameshi"

Sign reading Bokkake, Udon

14 December, 2011

Himeji Oden

For this latest issue, let me introduce Himeji-Oden, a taste of Himeji City which embraces Himeji Castle. Oden is one of Japan’s most popular winter dishes. It is a kind of stew which contains delicately cooked eggs, vegetables and meat boiled a soy sauce-based broth. Oden is so popular that you can easily buy it near the cashier of any convenience store in Japan. Soy sauce and grated ginger is set out with the dish. Oden gained a lot of popularity at the annual big gourmet competition, “B-1 Grand Prix,” in Japan!

I took the JR train from Sannomiya to Himeji for 40 minutes to enjoy the local Himeji flavour!
Near the station there are bustling shops and restaurants where Himeji Oden is available as it is the very taste of Himeji. I made a special choice of restaurant: “Nada-Giku” which has served Oden for 52 years.

The restaurant is located on the corner of a shopping arcade with many shops…


Nada-Giku looks like a typical Japanese-style pub, or Izakaya; shelves on the wall are lined with sake bottles and Japanese folk songs (Enka) are playing in the background. The pub has counter seats, so it is pretty convenient for solo diners. 

Inside the pub

One of the unique sales points of this pub is that real Japanese drums are used for the customers’ seats. Awesome, aren’t they?

Drum stools

Here the Himeji Oden comes! The fibrous meat, an egg, deep-fried tofu, konnyaku and Gobo-Ten (burdock packed in minced fish cake and fried) are skewered with a long stick. Steaming rice, miso soup and pickles also delight the palate.

Himeji Oden special

The harmony of grated raw ginger and the subtle flavor of soy sauce left me feeling refreshed. Add Japanese mustard as you like.

Fibrous meat, egg and deep-fried tofu

Nada-Giku offers two versions: “Black”(as above) and “White.” The “White” version uses a broth of sake lees as soup stock. Sounds mouth-watering!

Don’t miss the Himeji Oden on the way from the great Himeji Castle.

Shark (Hyogo Tourism Association)

09 December, 2011

【Local Gourmet Food】The B-1 Grand Prix in Himeji: A Local Gourmet Competition

 A local gourmet competition, “The 6th B-1 Grand Prix” was held between the 12th and 13th of November in Himeji, Hyogo! This big food competition is held annually and groups from almost every prefecture in Japan bring their most prized B-class gourmet food to win the heart and stomach of the visitors, who vote for their favorite B-1 food of the event. This year, a record-breaking 515,000 visitors came to the event during the period and that shows just how much passion Japanese people have for trying delicious food, as well as how serious the 63 participants are about the #1 spot.

     Official website for B-1 Grand Prix in Himeji :  http://www.b1-himeji.jp/Japanese
*This event has already ended.

 The official guide book and coupon