Hiroshima is famous for having access to both the mountains and the ocean and as a result, has bountiful produce to eat as you enjoy the scenery.
Miyajima Aquarium is a prime example.
Just last week I visited and found myself face-to-face with beautiful underwater scenes. As for the food, let’s just say although you can buy food there, it was more along the lines of people around me exclaiming, “Oh delicious!” every time they looked at one of the exhibits. I must admit it was slightly unnerving but I did find myself smiling and agreeing with them.
Miyajima Aquarium’s big selling point is that it’s the only aquarium with a focus on the Seto Inland Sea and as it’s right on the doorstep, the creatures truly are in their natural habitat.
It’s a good place to visit if you have children as they’ll easily be entertained and the larger tanks have seating areas where parents can relax and watch the animals at play too. The huge stingrays are a popular attraction and the jellyfish further along are fascinating to watch, especially with the coloured lights that are used in the tanks. Of course, if you’ve been to Miyajima numerous times, the aquarium is also something a little different from the norm.
The biggest drawback is that it’s a tad pricey at 1400 yen for adults, 700 yen for elementary and high school students, 400 yen for young children and under fours for free. At these prices a trip to the aquarium doesn’t come cheap. The beginning is also a little slow and if you don’t read Japanese (particularly kanji), there isn’t a lot you will understand. Saying that though, there also isn’t a lot of information in Japanese either, so people tend to make their way through the place fairly quickly.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for children (and big kids, aka adults) is the touch tank at the end. Unfortunately, it too isn’t good with instructions in English, so my advice is to just approach the tank and wait for one of the staff to notice.
For interactive entertainment the aquarium holds sea lion shows three times a day at 10.30am, 1 and 3.30pm and there is also the opportunity for penguin and sea otter feeding. Seal performances are also available. Check the website for more information and for exact times.
Miyajima Aquarium is located to the right of Itsukushima Shrine and is well sign-posted. It’s open every single day of the year from 9am-5pm, with the last entry at 4pm. It has both a Japanese and English website so it’s best to check online first if you plan to go on a public or national holiday as hours may vary slightly.
When you’ve finished making your way around the aquarium, stop by the gift shop for some fun souvenirs to take home as a reminder of your time there. I guarantee you won’t leave empty-handed!
10-3, Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima Japan 739-0534 (map link)
As New Year’s well wishes fade from conversations across Japan, an unspoken but equally cheerful sentiment permeates the atmosphere of Hiroshima Prefecture: “Happy Oyster Season!” Echoes of this can of course be heard and tasted year around in the prefecture, but the abundance and quality of oysters harvested in the winter months turns late January-February into quite the celebration.
Wherever your tastebuds lie on the shellfish enthusiasm scale, Hiroshima’s diverse methods of preparation, the season’s swell of availability, and related drop in prices, are sure to keep your mind and mouth open to the possibilities.
If you’re most familiar with your oysters served on the half-shell, you may be surprised to discover some of the popular Japanese options. Although you can find some delicious ‘nama-gaki,’ raw oysters, around Hiroshima, the Japanese specialties usually involve some heat. Most common is the ‘kaki-fry’ or fried oysters, which are served mostly in set meals with worcestershire or tartar sauce on the side.
The fried oysters are widely available at many restaurants and even supermarkets during the winter months in Hiroshima. A set meal featuring kaki-fry will usually set you back between 1000-1500 yen, and you can typically buy a package of them at the grocery store for around 500 yen.
This is the name given to a few restaurants that open both seasonally and year-around for oyster-lovers in Hiroshima. Here are two of its popular restaurants to try:
Open: (seasonally from October 22, 2016) 10:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: in Hiroshima Minato Park, Ujinakaigan 1-chome, Minami-ku, Hiroshima City
Official Website (Japanese): www.hiroshima-oyster.com/area
Open: (all year) 5:00 pm – 12:00 am
Location: 8-11 Fukuromachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima City
Official Website (Japanese): www.umihei.com
If you make your way to Miyajima island, there are many food stalls that sell another version of the oysters, grilled. It’s a great way to test out the idea of cooking the shellfish that won’t break the bank. At most stalls you can buy three shells for 500 yen, and during this season the streets are even more crowded with vendors selling the juicy dish.
The most popular area to get your oyster fill is anywhere along Omotesando, the shopping street.
Another local favorite is a twist on the famous Hiroshiman Okonomiyaki. Typically served with squid or pork, this time of the year will have many restaurants featuring local kaki as an option as well. Nicknamed ‘kakioko,’ these cakes can be found at many okonomiyaki places in the city, and prices are generally between 1000-1500 yen per Oyster-filled plate.
Widely regarded as the city’s hub for okonomiyaki, the restaurants in Okonomimura often feature a few extra oyster dishes as the season progresses.
Open: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Location: 5-13 Shintenchi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima 730-0034, Hiroshima Prefecture
Reference Website (English): www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review…
Official Website (English): www.okonomimura.jp/foreign/english.html
The list of cooking styles continues, but to save you from overwhelming options, the ports along the coast have combined all oyster efforts into individual festivals! Nearly every weekend starting in late January, a different port will open up to celebrate and serve the versatile seafood. You can enjoy oyster nabe, oyster udon, steamed oysters, chowdered oysters, oyster curry, and oyster gratin, just to name a few.
Of course this is all in addition to the standard options, and whatever else they might come up with! The oysters served at these events are always a few hundred yen cheaper than sold normally, so come prepared to try a multitude. Many events are quite small and local, but for those excited or willing to try out Hiroshima’s oysters, attending at least one of these festivals this season is a must.
This map highlights the ports that have hosted oyster events in the past. Here is an interactive version with event names. Also, be sure to check out this website for information and detailed menus for other oyster festivals you won’t want to miss!
This is undoubtedly the largest festival in the prefecture. You may want to arrive early, as the lines extending to the oyster stalls tend to grow quickly, and with good reason. The vendors pre-make a select number of dishes, and when they run out they don’t make more! All of the feasting pairs well with the refreshing drinks and entertaining shows throughout the day to wash it all down.
Dates: February 11-12, 2017
Open: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Price: free admission
Location: In front of ferry terminal in Miyajima, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Reference Website (Japanese): www.visithiroshima.net/things_to_do/seasonal …
Official Website (English): www.miyajima.or.jp/english/event/event_kaki.html
The Miyajima festival may be the most popular, but if you don’t need all the extra Taiko drumming, dance performances, or crowds, check out one of the many other local options!
This event also features some performances, and offers a free shuttle bus from the Onoura JR station to the festival!
Date: Sunday, February 12, 2017
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Price: free admission
Location: Miyahama Onsen Event Ground, 1-19 Miyahama Onsen, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Reference Website (English):http://www.nihon-kankou.or.jp.e.wp.hp.transer.com/detail/
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m. – sold out
Price: free admission
Location: Kure Chuo-Koen Park, Chuo 4, Kure-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture
Reference Website (Japanese):http://www.kankou.pref.hiroshima.jp/
There is truly no better place to celebrate this oyster season than Hiroshima. However you decide to spend it, may your oyster holiday be merry and your belly be full!
By Daderot (I took this photograph.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons