Culture Through Food
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Fukuoka prefecture has long been considered a gourmet destination for food lovers. From coastlines abundant with delicious seafood to the prefecture’s optimal green tea growing environments, there is much to titillate a foodie’s appetite, including hands-on experiences and a little adventure. Follow us on our journey through Fukuoka prefecture for a culinary discovery of the southern green tea region of Yame and northward for a fishing boat excursion in Kitakyushu.
The Chikugo area in Yame city is one of the leading green tea producers in Kyushu, where we get a first-hand taste of some of the finest teas cultivated today. Here, the mountains and clear streams have nurtured the old tradition of tea cultivation using protective straw covers and hand-picking the leaves to produce what is considered an unrivaled high-quality green tea.To kickstart our journey, we head to the Tea Museum in Hoshinomura.
As a store, restaurant, exhibition space, and studio workshop, the Tea Museum is the perfect place to learn about Yame green tea culture through hands-on experience. In the Tea Studio, we tried the slow process of grinding dried tea leaves into rich green matcha tea powder using a stone mortar, with the staff’s guidance. Slowly, a single serving of aromatic green powder emerged from between the stones—just enough to whisk into a single serving of flavorful traditional tea in the Tea Ceremony Hall.
With a tea whisk in hand, the staff helped us whip our freshly ground matcha powder into an aromatic tea, complemented with traditional Japanese confectionary and views of the Yame landscape from the windows. While you can also purchase matcha green tea directly from the store, nothing quite beats tasting the robust, earthy flavors of freshly ground matcha, especially when it has been ground with your own hands.
The center also has a restaurant and cafe, where you can taste their green tea-infused soba noodles, tea rice, matcha ice cream, daifuku rice desserts, and steamed buns, browse the center’s Yame green tea displays, or shop for Yame green tea souvenirs at the shop.
After our aromatic tea experience, we move from the land to the sea’s gastronomical offerings by heading north to Kitakyushu city. In the morning, we board a fishing boat from Dairi Port and head 40 minutes out to sea with an experienced fishing guide as our navigator.
Upon reaching the rich waters of our fishing spot, our guide is quick to show us the ropes. Within minutes, we have our lines in the water, and before we know it, we are using the fancy automatic reels on our state-of-the-art fishing rods to haul in a fresh catch. Thanks to high-tech gear and the sage advice of our guide, even the most inexperienced customer can have a wonderful experience.
After our delightful time out on the water, our cooler is soon filled with a wide variety of fresh fish. Once we meet our quota, the boat returns us to the dock and its adjoining restaurant, Lamer Miyabi. We are greeted at the entrance by the in-house chef, who quickly disappears into the kitchen with our fresh bounty. The next time we view our catch, it has been transformed into an elaborate assortment of dishes: sashimi, sushi, tempura, seared with butter, and hot-pot style, just to name a few. We enjoy our meal alongside floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Kitakyushu coastline.
In Fukuoka, we added to our already pleasurable Japanese culinary experience by diving into some of the actual food harvestings. This broadened our understanding and enriched the overall experience — it was no longer just about eating the fresh seafood dishes, we had participated in their creation. We hope you’ll enjoy the adventure as much as we did during your own visit to Fukuoka prefecture.
Tea Museum (Cha no bunkakan)
10816-5 Hoshinomura, Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture
Lamer Miyabi (Japanese Website)
2-11-33 Dairihonmachi, Moji Ward, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture
Nearby sightseeing spots:
Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel
Connecting the Kanmon Strait, this is a 780m-long pedestrian-use undersea tunnel.
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