Recently, visitors from afar have been flocking to the region to sample Kawajima cuisine, including lining up to experience dining at the popular noodle shop Chuka Soba Yotsuba or visiting the soy sauce brewery Fueki Shoyu Brewing, which was established in the first year of the Kansei era (1789–1801). For this article, we will introduce specialty foods and local products created with pride in Kawajima Town.
*Kawajima Town products introduced in this article are also available as thank-you gifts when donations to Furusato Nozei (Hometown Tax) are made. Please visit the Furusato Choice, Satofull, or Rakuten Hometown Tax websites for details.
Rice Branded by Kawagoe Clan
The region features level soil surrounded by rivers on all sides. Delicious and nourishing rice has been harvested here traditionally, with a history of this rice being regularly offered to Kawagoe Clan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Now, about 60% of Kawajima Town’s land area is used for farming, with rice being the most popular crop. Furthermore, along with the glorious past of this rice, initiatives for safe and worry-free rice production have been recognized as Specially-grown Crops of Saitama Prefecture, proof of its high quality and taste.
In 1992, the local agricultural co-op decided to register the Rice Branded by Kawagoe Clan as a trademark. The promotion committee for the rice branded by Kawagoe Clan launched in 2011The Rice Branded by Kawagoe Clan comes in two varieties—Koshihikari and Sai No Kizuna. Only 100 farmers, who are members of the Committee, are permitted to grow the Rice Branded by Kawagoe Clan. The rice derives its brand power from its completely pesticide-reduced growing method with organic fertilizers.
But fewer pesticides mean an increased risk of insects that can bring disease. In order to reduce this risk, the farmers are working hard day and night on the Cellar Rice.
“Kawajima has distinct temperature fluctuations between day and night, so the rice stores starch. Water for rice paddies used to be from wells and rivers. Thanks to irrigation, the water is now distributed completely to all paddy fields and that led to more stable production,” said Ikuo Uchino, chairman of the promotion committee for the rice branded by Kawagoe Clan.
45 km from Central Tokyo: Kawajima’s Bounteous Agricultural Products
Kawajima Town Strawberries
Strawberries started being harvested in Kawajima Town around 1958. As the years went on, the quantity of strawberries harvested also increased, and is now one of the major strawberry production areas in Saitama Prefecture. There are tourist farms in the town which offer strawberry picking, to which visitors from afar come to visit.
The most commonly grown strawberry types in the town are Tochiotome, Akihime, and Benihoppe. Tochiotome is known for their juiciness and firm fruit. It is sweet with a moderate acidity and a powerful fragrance. Akihime features a lighter color than other strawberries and has a distinctively narrower shape.
It has a pleasant fragrance, softer fruit with less acidity for a juicy and refreshing sweetness. Benihoppe is a nice, firm fruit with strong sweetness and acidity, enabling people to experience the original sweet-and-sour taste of strawberries along with a robust taste.
Satoshi Matsugami of Strawberry Hunt decided to become a farmer after seeing this district, which had active strawberry farming but a dwindling population of farmers, and continues to challenge himself toward new heights of strawberry production, saying, “I want to do anything I can to support young farmers who will carry this town on their backs.”
Kawajima Town Figs
Major fig production started in Kawajima around 2006. Initially it was a pilot shipment of about 300 kilograms. Soon more farmers started to grow figs and by 2014 the production reached approximately 53 tons, the highest production and shipment amounts in Saitama.
Most of the union’s figs are grown using the flat-rod style, where two branches are grown in parallel to the ground. This way the plants get enough air and sun. The union recommends growing with organic fertilizers, and sets strict standards to control quality, including the amount of pesticides permitted, as well as the size, color and sweetness level of the figs. The sugar content is configured to at least 13 degrees, giving these figs their characteristic powerful sweetness.
Kawajima’s figs are shipped from mid-August to mid-November. When they become plump, large and dark red, and their skin taut, that’s when they taste good. Almost all sales outlets for these figs are within the prefecture, as the figs are extremely delicate. It could be said that enjoying fully ripe, perfect figs is a special privilege reserved only for local residents.
When there are any leftover figs, simmering them in syrup to create compote or jam is also recommended. The union started offering frozen figs on a trial basis 2018, which are proving popular for making jam and other processed products.
Kinbue Seasoning Set
It is said that of all of Japan’s soy sauce, the sauce manufactured in traditional wooden barrels makes up less than one percent. Fueki Shoyu Brewing was established in 1789 and has continued its traditional production of Kioke soy sauce for over 200 years.
“Using wooden barrels and allowing nature to take over the fermentation and aging process takes a long time. However, this is the key in creating delicious soy sauce with a rich flavor,” explains Kichigoro Fueki, the 12th generation head of Fueki Shoyu Brewing. Mr. Fueki grew up with the soy sauce factory and became the head of Fueki Shoyu in 2017.
The Kinbue Seasoning Set is a treasure box of this Fueki Shoyu artisan spirit.
Shunkashuto no Dashinomoto (All-season Instant Soup Stock) is based on Fueki’s soy sauce with soup stock made from dried bonito, dried kelp and shiitake mushrooms, and Usuiro Dashinomoto (Lightly-colored Instant Soup Stock) can be used to season various dishes as a soup base for simmered dishes, or as a soy sauce for sprinkling. Furthermore, Kinbue Saishikomi Namashoyu is a luxury soy sauce that pursues umami, offering the unique fragrance of raw, unheated soy sauce with a rich taste created through two brewing processes. The addictive spiciness of Togarashi Shoyu (Red Pepper Soy Sauce) and the rich taste of Goma Dressing (Sesame Dressing) can be used as dipping sauces for shabu-shabu dishes as well.
Chuka Soba Yotsuba Ramen Set
In 2013, Chuka Soba Yotsuba opened in Kawajima Town. This unique ramen shop, which also features a sushi restaurant, instantly became famous, with customers across the country lining up for a taste.
Popular dishes here are Yotsuba Soba. The soup for Yotsuba Soba is created from local Hinai chicken and Amakusa Daio chicken soup stock, five different types of soy sauce and chicken oil. The taste is simple but rich, with an elegant flavor without being too greasy, making it popular with customers of any age, both men and women.
“I decided to use local ingredients, since I was going to open shop locally. I wanted to promote the tastes of Kawajima in my own way. When developing the menu, I visited many local manufacturers, and came across Kinbue Saisikomi Namashoyu and Topran in my travels. The Kinbue Saisikomi Namashoyu is absolutely necessary for creating the flavor of my ramen,” says the owner of the establishment, Kazuto Iwamoto.
How about sampling this ramen, with its carefully selected ingredients to the last drop!
The Ultimate Ramen Featuring Flavors of Kawajima
Since 2018, the town of Kawajima has recognized quality products that communicate the wonderful aspects of the Kawajima Town as KJ (Kawajima) Brands, which include the Rice Branded by Kawagoe Clan, figs and strawberries of this article. By establishing a brand, we may look forward to more special, local products full of the rich natural habitat and culture of the area. Don’t miss any further developments of Kawajima Town!
Other Kawajima Town Specialty/Local Products
Fig Ice Cream
A set featuring luxurious and fruity fig milk ice cream and sorbet. Both use only fully ripe Kawajima figs harvested in the morning and contains 50% of ripe figs for an elegant sweetness.How about comparing the sorbet and milk ice cream while enjoying the differences in texture.
- Address：266 Tobaishinden, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture
Strawberry Milk Ice Cream & Strawberry Sorbet
A set featuring only strawberries from the Kawajima Town strawberry farm Strawberry Hunt, containing a rich milk ice cream with strawberry pulp and a refreshing sorbet. The strawberries are slowly ripened during “in-season” periods, carefully harvested one by one, using an abundance of fragrant strawberries from the farm. Strawberry Hunt’s strawberries are a few times larger than standard supermarket strawberries, and their sugar concentration is approximately 18 degrees (standard strawberries are considered sweet at 13 to 15). Not only do these strawberries boast a wonderful taste, they are also grown to maximize their nutrients such as vitamins—sampling the ultimate strawberry milk ice cream and sorbet is highly recommended.
- Address：1072 Kamiomino, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture
A fragrant jam using Kawajima Town’s specialty figs and fig skins as well. The taste is light on the sweetness but with extremely full-bodied—almost like tasting fresh figs—thanks to the intricate work by seasoned ladies of the region. For starters, try sampling the jam with staples such as bread, yogurt and crackers. It is also highly recommended as a subtle seasoning for dishes such as simmered fish and miso stir-fry.
- Address：174-1 Fukizuka, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture
Handmade, additive-free miso created from rice from Kawajima Town, which used to be regularly offered to the Kawagoe Clan. The miso is manufactured in the traditional way, kneaded by hand by local female residents. Carefully selected ingredients make a miso which dissolves quickly and offers a rich taste. It is so good, it is said that once someone tries this miso, they will not want any other miso! Because the ingredients are carefully selected, only a limited number is available each year—sampling this miso is highly recommended!
- Address：174-1 Fukizuka, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture
Assorted Nobikko Sweets
Social Welfare Service Corporation Wing Work & Like Nobikko Sweets Manufacturing Group
A confectionary set featuring handmade cookies manufactured at the town social welfare facility Work & Like Nobikko. Only domestic flour and sugar, fresh, delicious Topran brand eggs from the local Yabe Poultry Farm, and 100% butter are used, so that customers can enjoy the sweets with peace of mind. *The cookies in the set are selected by Work & Like Nobikko.
- Address：871-5 Shimoyatsubayashi, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture
Assorted Seasonal Vegetable
Kawajima Farmers’ Store (JA Saitama Chuo)
A set featuring fresh vegetables from Kawajima, which line the shelves of the Kawajima Farmer’s Store. One hour by car—45 km from the metropolitan area—the town of Kawajima provides fresh vegetables to urban areas because of its proximity. How about trying the fresh local vegetables of Kawajima Town, painstakingly harvested by local farmers, offering a diverse lineup of farm produce all year round?
*The photograph is for illustrative purposes. The vegetables delivered will differ with seasons, weather and harvesting conditions.
- Address：239-1 Oaza Minami Sonobe, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture
Rice Bread/Brown Rice Bread
Rice bread baked without flour or wheat gluten, and simply using only simple ingredients such as rice flour, sugar, salad oil, yeast, salt and thickener has a straightforward, mild flavor that showcases the region’s rice, famous for its history of being regularly offered to the Kawagoe Clan. The attractive bread has a rice flavor, and toasting it creates a crispy exterior and springy interior texture. *The bread is sent as frozen deliveries. Approximately an hour and a half is needed for the bread to thaw.
- Address：112-1 Mageshi, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture
Assorted Rice Crackers
Kawashimaya Co., Ltd.
Ever since its establishment, Kawashimaya has handed down its flavors with its history of 80 years focusing on rice crackers. The Kawashimaya assorted rice crackers set carries on the historical goodness of “hand-baked rice crackers.” Kawashimaya rice crackers hold on to their traditional taste while improving technologies and quality to provide delicious rice crackers to customers and are very particular on its flavor centered on the sweetness of rice instead of the palatability of soy sauce. Furthermore, even the hardest rice crackers are baked to be moderately hard, enabling both young and old alike to enjoy these snacks.
- Address：318 Miyamae, Kawajima, Hiki District, Saitama Prefecture