Hokkaido Fishermen Relieved that Sixty Percent of Oyster Spat Safe

(Translation from Hokkaido Shinbun April 27th)

(Yubetsu, Akkeshi) Damage to oyster spat farms in Miyagi Prefecture as a result of the Great Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami was less than expected and growers in Hokkaido that rely on Miyagi spat should be able to take delivery of 60% of spat over last year. Oyster spat from Miyagi Pref. was delivered to Saroma and Akkeshi on April 15th from Ishinomaki. Fishing cooperatives in Saroma on the Okhotsk coastline, as well as 3 Fishing Cooperatives in Akkeshi had given up on obtaining spat after the earthquake on March 11. A sense of relief is spreading amongst the fishermen, who will be able to ship oysters as early as Autumn.

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Helping out in Tohoku

After a busy winter season at Ezo Seafoods in Niseko, I hit the road again in mid-April to visit fishing villages along the Pacific Coast of Japan. Only this time, my mission wasn’t to seek out new varieties of oysters or try local seafood dishes. I was going to deliver emergency supplies and help out with the clean up along the roughly 500km stretch of coastline that was devastated by the 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami. I don’t use the word “devastated” lightly.

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Eight thousand oysters later...

Hard to believe, but the 2011 season is winding down now and we have only a few more trading days before closing the Oyster Bar on March 13th. It has been an utterly exhausting, but exciting and rewarding season. We enjoyed lots of reunions with customers from last season, introduced many new customers to Hokkaido's fine seafood, and pushed our own limits to keep Ezo itself fresh and interesting.

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A saturday morning hunch

WIth a great sense of purpose, I head off to Suttsu on the Sea of Japan coastline at 8am this morning. I was in search of....well, I wasn't entirely sure myself, but by the time I had returned four hours later with a bottle of smoked oysters and traditional Japanese fish print under my arm, it was all very clear.

 

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Amazingly Good Oyster Bar in Tokyo

 I was in Tokyo recently to visit Tsukiji market and also to investigate the burgeoning oyster bar scene there. One of the memorable finds of the visit was Ostrea, a stylish new oyster bar and restaurant in Ginza that I popped into with a couple of hours to kill before an 8pm dinner engagement.

 

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Shiriuchi Oysters

Shiriuchi is one of the dozens of small fishing communities to be found around the southern tip of Hokkaido. Its well known as the birthplace of Enka singing superstar Kitajima Saburo (like the Frank Sinatra of Japan), and also for its oysters. I drove down from Niseko for 4 hours through rain this week to learn a bit more for myself about the oysters and the area. 

 

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Suttsu Oyster Festival

The Suttsu oyster festival is one-day oyster and seafood festival held on the shoreline of the Sea of Japan that attracts hundreds of Japanese ostreaphiles every year. Suttsu oysters come on line well after the primary season has finished, giving oyster lovers one more chance to gorge on oysters before the long oyster-less summer begins.

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Welcome to Lake Saroma

I always love visiting Lake Saroma. Everything seems incredibly flat compared to the verticality of Niseko.The sea, sky and land seem to merge into one. Apart from some small fishing villages that punctuate the shoreline, the place is desolate. It certainly isn’t known as a tourist destination. But for seafood lovers its an exciting little world of its own full of surprises.

 

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