Oh lord, could this really be our last day already? I needed another week of this and I don’t think I was alone. After waking to a spectacular sunrise over the ocean and a traditional Japanese breakfast, an onsen spa dip put me in the mood for a gentle cruise flitting through endless small islands and oyster farms in the gentle waters of Matsushima Bay.
After the boat trip, we were led down the hill from the hotel to an unprepossessing small pop-up shack apparently in the middle of a parking lot close to the ocean. The pile of oyster shells stacked up behind it even taller than the shack itself was the clue. This wasn’t oyster city, it was oyster paradise on earth: all the oysters you could eat for 50 minutes at 3000 yen per person, washed down with a good, dry local Miyagi honjozo sake.
We divided into three groups to sit at three tables, each with a large square metal grill in the middle. Oysters were shovelled, 50 at a time, onto the hot metal plate which was then covered to allow the oysters to steam in their own juices. Women in Asahi brewer uniforms bustled around with cheery smiles, then lifted the lids and helped us prise open the oysters although they had in fact more or less already opened under their own steam, so to speak.
They were the fattest, fleshiest, sweetest, juiciest hot oysters you’re ever likely to eat with loads of briney, umami flavour, a degree of chewiness and a touch of charriness. Our three groups of five and four made light of 200 oysters per table, so an average of 40 oysters per person, which was by far the most I had ever eaten at one sitting.
Still in a haze of oysters and sake, we made our reluctant way to Sendai Station where, equally reluctantly and not without a little sadness, we bade fond farewells to each other, vowing to keep the flame of sake very much alive.
Eduardo summed it all up perfectly: ‘when you meet the group, they’re in the mood to experience something they’ve never done, they’re open-minded and keen to learn and to experience new things. And you discover that the tour is not just about sake but the fibre of a culture that has so much to teach the rest of the world. Doors are opened for you and each brewery you go to you learn more, their family history, their specific type of brewing and the differences in culture from one place to the next. There’s no better way to learn about a country and its culture’. Amen to that.
Anyone interested in more details about Sake Brewery Tours should contact: Etsuko Nakamura
Travel Agent : Michi Travel
Monday - Saturday 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Declaration of interest: my trip was sponsored by Sake Brewery Tours.