Hanaccoli is Yamaguchi Prefecture’s original kind of vegetable, which was created by crossing broccoli with choi sum, a Chinese vegetable. It is officially registered as a Yamaguchi Brand vegetable. This vegetable is unique in that not only its flowers but also its stems and leaves are edible. You can enjoy its mild sweetness, crispiness and brilliant green color just by quickly boiling it, so this vegetable is convenient for busy people. Rich in Vitamin C and dietary fiber, this vegetable suits all kinds of cuisine, including Japanese, Western-style, and Chinese cuisine.
Hanaccoli is in season between November and March, and is sold mainly in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and also in Hiroshima, Okayama, Tokyo, Kitakyushu and other areas.
Yamaguchi Brand products are registered Yamaguchi Prefecture-grown agricultural, forestry and marine products, and registered processed products containing 100% Yamaguchi Prefecture-grown ingredients, selected by original strict standards focusing on flavor and quality.
Hagi Tamage-nasu (eggplant)
Hagi Tamage-nasu, weighing over 500 g, is three to four times larger than an ordinary eggplant. Although this kind of eggplant, the variety name of which is Taya-nasu, was first raised only in the Taya area in Nagato City in the late 1920s to the early 1970s, its cultivation expanded to other areas after its seeds were introduced in Hagi City.
Hagi Tamage-nasu features a sweet skin, a dense, soft and fine fruit. It was named Tamage-nasu because of its surprising (tamageru) deliciousness and size. This eggplant, in season in June, is registered as a Yamaguchi Brand product.
Yumehoppe (citrus fruit)
Yumehoppe is Yamaguchi Prefecture’s original citrus fruit, created by crossing Yamaguchi Prefecture-native Yoshiura Ponkan mandarin with Kiyomi. The creation of this fruit has taken about 20 years. (The variety’s name is Setomi.)
This citrus fruit weighs 180 to 200 g, and features higher sugar content than Dekopon mandarin. This fruit is popular for its soft inner skin, which can be easily eaten with the fruit, and for its springy texture. Yumehoppe, registered as a Yamaguchi Brand product, is a name for the Setomi fruits that meet certain quality standards.
Yumehoppe is shipped from late March, when other kinds of citrus fruits begin disappearing from the market, so this “spring mandarin that brings happiness” makes citrus fruit lovers happy.
Fuku (puffer fish)
Puffer fish is a winter staple in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Longline puffer fishing originated on Sukumo Island in Shunan City.
Tiger puffer fish, with a unique appearance of white-bordered black spots and a white anal fin, is the first-class variety of puffer fish, sometimes called the “king of flavor.” Beautiful fugu-sashi (puffer fish sashimi), which demonstrates a cook’s skill in handling the knife, fugu-chiri (puffer fish stew), deep-fried puffer fish, puffer fish milt, hot sake with grilled puffer fish fin, and other puffer fish dishes satisfy you with luxury. Shimonoseki Fuku is a registered geographical indication (under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) and a registered regional collective trademark (under the jurisdiction of the Japan Patent Office) based on systems for the protection of intellectual property.
Catches of swordtip squid in the Japan Sea coastal area in Yamaguchi Prefecture (Kitaura) are among the highest in Japan. Swordtip squid, with thick, soft and sweet meat, are the first-class squid, called the “queen of squid.” Major swordtip squid catching areas, including Hagi City, Nagato City and Shimonoseki City, strive to brand their own squid.
Saikyo Hamo (conger pike)
It is said that conger pikes develop their own delicious flavor by drinking rain water in the rainy season. Although conger pikes are highly valued as a summer staple in the Kansai region in particular, Yamaguchi Prefecture boasts top-class catches of this fish. The Seto Inland Sea coastal area in the prefecture’s southeastern part provides favorable conger pike fisheries, where the fish immigrate to lay eggs. Saikyo Hamo, a Yamaguchi Brand product, are caught by small trawlers or longliners, and shipped to Kansai while alive, so the fish are excellent in freshness, flavor and quality. Saikyo Hamo, sometimes two meters long, feature plain though richly-flavored meat, containing abundant fat in fall in particular.
Yamaguchi Prefecture-caught nodoguro (rosy sea bass)
This fish is called nodoguro (lit. “black throat”) because the depth of its throat looks black. Its standard Japanese name is akamutsu. This fish is renowned as “white-meat tuna” because of plenty of high-quality fat contained in its meat, which features a soft and creamy texture, mild sweetness and a rich flavor.
Nodoguro are caught in fisheries westward off Mishima Island, Hagi City, by offshore trawlers or small trawlers, and landed mainly at Shimonoseki Fishing Port.
Choshu Kuro-kashiwa (chicken)
Choshu Kuro-kashiwa are locally produced poultry that Yamaguchi Prefecture originally developed from Kuro-kashiwa chicken, designated as a natural monument.
This chicken features adequately chewy though soft and juicy meat, so the longer you chew it, the richer the flavor you can enjoy. The meat also tastes delicate without smell, and contains plenty of umami substances. In particular, breast meat and white meat contain a large amount of imidazole dipeptide, which is a functional component that helps recover from fatigue. These chickens are fed on the ground naturally for more than 80 days with original herb-added compound feed that does not contain antibiotics or artificial antibacterial agents, and another kind of originally blended feed that contains regional resources such as rice for feed use and rice bran.
Yamaguchi’s specially selected dried shiitake mushroom
Yamaguchi Prefecture’s rich natural environment, including mountains, greenery, and clear water, is favorable for the production of shiitake mushrooms. Major shiitake production centers in the prefecture, such as Mine City and the Tokuji area in Yamaguchi City, strive to produce high-quality shiitake mushrooms by taking advantage of local environmental traits. Because mushrooms raised on tree logs are prone to the impact of weather, shiitake producers carefully take the countermeasures of protecting mushrooms from winds and cold by improving the environment of the bed log yard, and of adjusting time and temperature in the drying process. After harvest, they classify their mushrooms into brands (donko, koko and koshin), grades, etc. by shape, size and color, and ship high-quality shiitake mushrooms as specially selected dried shiitake mushrooms.
Yamaguchi’s locally brewed sake
Although the production of sake is declining year by year nationwide, Yamaguchi Prefecture, alone in Japan, has increased its shipment of locally brewed sake in nine successive years. Yamaguchi’s locally brewed sake has attracted national attention because local breweries have strived to enhance the added value of their products by improving product quality and boosting brand recognition.
Local breweries use Yamaguchi Prefecture-grown rice ideal for sake production, including the nationally famous Yamada-nishiki and Saito-no-shizuku, Yamaguchi Prefecture’s original variety. Junmai-ginjoshu (sake produced only with rice the size of which is 60% or less of its original grain size after milling, and rice koji) accounts for about 60% of the prefecture’s entire shipment of locally brewed sake. Yamaguchi’s locally brewed sake can be enjoyed in various styles, as an appetizer or an accompaniment for dishes, for example.
Yamaguchi Prefecture-caught kijihata (Hong Kong grouper)
Kijihata, called akamizu in the Japan Sea coastal area and ako in the Seto Inland Sea coastal area, is a white-meat fish with a rich, delicate and non-peculiar flavor. It is said that kijihata in summer tastes as good as puffer fish in winter, and thin slices of this fish feel as chewy as puffer.
Although the small catches of these fish nationwide cause it to be seen as a rare luxury fish, Yamaguchi Prefecture strives to carefully maintain these fish as marine resources by releasing the largest number of fry in Japan from 2012 and prohibiting fishers from catching fish shorter than 30 cm from 2013, aiming to increase catches of these fish.
These fish are caught by pole-and-line fishing, longline fishing, set net fishing, or other methods, landed alive because of their strong vital force, and shipped to luxury restaurants and traditional-style inns inside and outside the prefecture.
Kamaboko and chikuwa (fish sausage)
Facing the seas in three directions, Yamaguchi Prefecture has production centers for kamaboko (fish sausage) and chikuwa (hollow bamboo-shaped fish sausage) using fresh fish meat. Among these, Yamaguchi Prefecture’s original yakinuki-kamaboko is produced by grinding the fresh meat of lizardfish (a kind of white-meat fish) and other fish, pasting the ground meat on a wooden board, and grilling it over an open fire. This kamaboko boasts a flavor and chewy texture different from steamed kamaboko produced in other prefectures.
Tradition says that yakinuki-kamaboko originated about 300 years ago. Its original production method has long been handed down to local artisans and manufacturers in Hagi City, Nagato City and other areas in the prefecture. Senzaki kamaboko, produced in Senzaki, Nagato City, is famous in particular.
Yamaguchi’s original Petit Series flowers
The Petit Series is a series of lilies with small flowers about 10 cm long in diameter that Yamaguchi Prefecture has developed originally.
This series contains 11 varieties with flowers of different colors and shapes, all of which feature a small size, pretty appearance and less smell particular to lilies. Since this series’ most prominent feature is the flowers’ small size, this series is named using a French word “petit,” which means “small.”
These lilies complement other kinds of flowers well, so you can use them for small bouquets and table flower arrangements. These lilies’ faint smell enables you to use them wherever you like.
Red pine lampshade Koborebi (by the woodworker Takebe Tokuma)
This lampshade is made from red pine, which is designated as Yamaguchi Prefecture’s tree, the wood of which was used to reconstruct Todai-ji Temple, and to build Kintaikyo Bridge and the new building of the imperial palace.
This product is made from Yamaguchi Prefecture-grown red pine through original techniques, and features a sophisticated design. This lampshade creates a fantastic space, illuminated with light filtering through the extremely thin red pine wood body made through original turnery techniques using the oily nature of the pine.
Uiro (sweet starch cake)
Uiro (sweet starch cake) has a long history. It is said that uiro originated in the Muromachi Period. The most likely explanation is that a miracle cure introduced by Chen Zongjing from Yuan China in the era of shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu gradually spread to various areas in Japan, and sweet rice cake called uiro mochi emerged based on the cure. It is believed that this sweet rice cake was introduced as “black uiro” in the era of the Ouchi family’s rule, and then confectioners in Yamaguchi began producing “white uiro” using white sugar, which is the origin of uiro in Yamaguchi.
Uiro is generally explained as sweets made by mixing ordinary glutinous rice powder with sugar, water, etc., and steaming the mixture in molds. However, Yamaguchi’s uiro is unique in that it is made mainly with starch powder, such as bracken and kudzu powder, produced from underground stems, instead of rice powder, and steaming the mixture of it and azuki jam or other ingredients. Therefore, Yamaguchi’s uiro features a jelly-like mouthfeel and a not long-lasting aftertaste, unlike uiro made with rice powder, which has a heavy texture.
Summer orange sweets
Hagi-grown summer oranges originated when Obata Takamasa, a former retainer of the Choshu domain, encouraged the cultivation of summer oranges to economically save samurai who lost their sources of subsistence due to the abolition of the domain. Later, summer oranges became Hagi’s specialty. A confectioner in the Hagi Castle town tried to make sweets using the skins of summer oranges, and, after long days of research, finally completed sweets made by boiling summer orange skins in sugar syrup, covering them with sugar, and lightly drying them, in 1880.
In the Taisho Era, a confectioner invented sweets made by removing fruits from the whole summer orange skin, boiling the skin in sugar syrup, and filling sweet bean jelly containing summer orange in the whole skin. This confection has since been accepted as a specialty of Hagi.
As suggested in the , “The first is Raku ware, the second Hagi ware, and the third Karatsu ware,” Hagi ware is excellent ceramic ware. It is designated as traditional craftwork by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
It is said that Hagi ware originated when, on the occasion of an invasion of Korea by order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi around the end of the 16th century, feudal lord Mori Terumoto brought back the Lee brothers, Korean potters, with him. Present-day Hagi City is home to many potteries, and some potteries are also located in Fukawa Yumoto in Nagato City.
Hagi ware features a rough and soft earth texture and water-absorbing ground material. As seen in the term, “seven changes in Hagi ware,” long careful use causes changes in the color of Hagi ware tea bowls due to absorbed tea, so these tea bowls are highly valued by tea ceremony masters. Hagi ware vessels are also unique in that their shapes are simple with little decoration and minimum painting.
These days, many ceramicists actively try to create their works based on their modern tastes. Some potteries allow visitors to observe the process of ceramic work, or provide a hands-on experience of hand-forming, turnery, painting, etc.
Ouchi lacquerware, designated as a traditional craftwork by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, originated in the Muromachi Period, and was among the Ouchi clan’s most important exports to China and Korea. Even after the fall of the Ouchi clan, the techniques and production of Ouchi lacquerware have been handed down. Works of Ouchi lacquerware, and Ouchi dolls in particular, have been loved as a specialty of Yamaguchi since the Showa Era.
Ouchi lacquerware features the gilded emblem of the Ouchi clan called “Ouchi-bishi (rhombus),” created by applying sober vermillion-colored lacquer called Ouchi-shu many times, painting fall herbs and flowers on the lacquered surface, and gilding the emblem. Among Ouchi lacquerware’s various types of works, such as trays and boxes, the most popular type is Ouchi dolls, a pair of lacquered dolls.
Akama inkstones, designated as traditional craftwork by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, was very valuable as the Choshu domain’s specialty when the Mori clan ruled the domain.
Akama stone is solid and fine, with stone grains and beautiful patterns, and it is also easy to process due to its viscosity, all of which are favorable qualities for an inkstone. Additionally, the stone adequately has dense edged points necessary for rubbing ink, so it helps create smooth and spreadable ink.
Mined raw stones are classified, and go through more than 10 processes, including edging, rough carving, decoration carving, finish carving, polishing, and finishing with lacquer, most of which are done by hand. The techniques fostered over a long history are handed down as excellent artisans’ techniques from parent to child or from master to pupil.