Shizuoka prefecture is home to Japan’s highest peak, the legendary Mt. Fuji, as well as a wealth of natural assets that combine to produce the ideal environment for a variety of foodstuffs ranging from tea and wasabi to spotted shrimp.
In recent years, a regional tourism initiative has been seeking to position Shizuoka as a gourmet paradise and destination of choice for domestic and overseas food lovers.
A wide range of produce in a natural setting
Mt. Fuji, the highest peak in Japan, stands proudly alone against the landscape, a majestic spectacle that has captivated the hearts of many since time immemorial. In 2013, Mt. Fuji was added to the World Cultural Heritage list, and its fame is steadily expanding beyond the shores of Japan.
The combination of rainfall and snow melt from Mt. Fuji provides a plentiful source of underground water, which translates into the spring water that permeates the entire prefecture.
Shizuoka also boasts the Bay of Suruga, the deepest in Japan, which reaches depths of 2,500 meters. Suruga is famed as one of the best fishing grounds in Japan, with a habitat that supports a bewildering range of marine species (around 1,000 in total), attracted to the varying coastal and ocean floor topography and the abundance of freshwater river sources.
The natural advantages of Shizuoka combine with the temperate climate to produce the ideal conditions for food production all year round. Shizuoka is one of the leading food producer regions in Japan in terms of variety of produce, and is often referred to as the nation’s breadbasket.
Positioning Shizuoka as a gourmet paradise
Shizuoka prefecture has launched a regional initiative to promote local produce to local consumers. The campaign is designed to capitalize on its inherent advantages as one of the major food producing regions in Japan.
As part of this initiative, an awards system was set up in 2010 as a way of recognizing leading chefs, confectioners and food artisans in Shizuoka who strive to use local produce and to create a unique food culture that with Shizuoka. As of 2014, the award has been presented to 396 food artisans recognized as leaders in promoting Shizuoka as a gourmet paradise.
The recipients deemed to be the most outstanding are awarded the title Culinary Experts of the Year. These are generally people who make the effort to travel to producer regions and build a rapport with farmers, and show outstanding skills in the selection and preparation and presentation of foods. They are also committed to introducing authentic tastes and flavors and encouraging young children to find out more about local produce, thereby helping to pass on the food culture of Shizuoka to the next generation.
The regional initiative to position Shizuoka as a gourmet paradise demonstrates a high level of commitment as well as local pride, as symbolized by the towering figure of Mt. Fuji. It goes without saying that many visitors to Shizuoka will be impressed by the depth and breadth of gourmet offerings available.
The year 2015 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Ieyasu Tokugawa, who has a very close association with Shizuoka prefecture. So why not visit Shizuoka to trace the history of Tokugawa, enjoy the wonderful natural assets, then visit a Culinary Expert of the Year 2014 restaurant to sample unique seasonal dishes prepared from local produce? Sample the many and varied delights of the acknowledged a gourmet paradise.
（Selected photos courtesy of Shizuoka Tourism Association）
*This video has been produced as part of efforts to create “Shizuoka ‘The Home of Mt. Fuji – Gourmet Paradise’”.
Shizuoka Prefecture: Culinary Experts of the Year 2014
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