Kyushu is in southwest Japan. Located in the southernmost part of Kyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture is blessed with magnificent nature including many islands from Yakushima Island, Tanegashima Island to Amami Oshima Island, mountains such as Sakurajima, hot springs gushing out of the earth, as well as the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Building on these natural gifts and a temperate climate, the prefecture is currently focusing efforts on creating new popular local products.
Sweetfish-fed Eels from Osumi, the peninsula with the highest eel production in Japan
Kagoshima is known for many famous products including potato shochu (Japanese distilled beverage) and black-haired pork. It also produces more eels than anywhere else in Japan. Located in the southernmost part of Kagoshima, Osumi Peninsula boasts a moderate climate brought on by the Japan Current, and pure groundwater filtered through many volcanic layers of the Shirasu Plateau, a perfect environment for quality eels to grow.
As natural eels have become a certified endangered species, local producers across Japan have been trying, in recent years, to create pseudo-natural fish by eel-farming. Fumio Kawaminami of Kawako, who runs an eel farm in Kanoya, and an eel restaurant called Edogawa, have focused on what natural eels are eating. Spending approximately four years, they developed Unagimaru—eels that are not available elsewhere that feed on sweetfish.
“Natural eels from the river feed on sweetfish and mountain trout. We wanted to grow eels that were as natural as possible, so we put sweetfish in the feed. We also stopped heating the pond to make the pond as natural as possible, and constantly poured in groundwater to replicate natural temperatures and water flow. We can only do this in Kagoshima because we have the moderate climate and lots of pure water,” says Kawaminami.
Feeding on fish and grown in a nearly natural environment, Kawaminami’s eels clearly look different from other farmed eels. Their body is a slightly greenish light blue, a sign that the eel is of good quality. It is also feels soft. Eels are extremely delicate creatures, and it is incredibly difficult to farm them the way Kawaminami does. It takes a long time for the eels to grow, and if there are too many of them in the pond they get physically affected and only very few eels can survive and be shipped. Despite all this, Kawaminami is looking forward to everyone enjoying his ideal eels that finally made a debut after four years.
Gift set of delicate eels and beer with a famous print
For this edition of E-ZEY JAPAN, the tight-fleshed, adequately fatty eels were grilled until they were fluffy and aromatic.
The grilled eels are offered in a gift set, paired with Asahi Super Dry Japan Special beer which carries a print of The Great Wave off Kanagawa, the masterpiece by world-famous Japanese woodblock print artist Hokusai who depicted the rough waves in an outstanding scale and a bold composition.
The limited set has exquisitely tasty eels grown with care and attention in Kagoshima, and beer that has great body and edge, developed in collaboration with the Tokyo National Museum. It makes a perfect summer gift.
Writer : TAICHI UEDA / Photographer : YUTA SUZUKI / SATOSHI TACHIBANA / Movie : CHIZU TAKAKURA
〈E-ZEY JAPAN〉Limited-offer gift set: Grilled long eels from Kagoshima & Asahi Super Dry Japan Special The Great Wave off Kanagawa from the Tokyo National Museum
Kagoshima Prefecture Tourism Information
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