Although Hiroshima is famous for its oysters throughout the year, it is during winter, in the coldest month of February that they’re at their best. Sure you can go to a famous restaurant or oyster bar in Hiroshima to enjoy them, but for something more fun (and definitely cheaper!), why not brave the cold and head to one of the many oyster festivals held along the coast. Perhaps the biggest and most well-known of these is the Miyajima Oyster Festival , held on the second weekend of February every year.
The waters around Miyajima are considered to be some of the best for yielding larger than average sized oysters and ones that are also tender and juicy. That alone makes this festival one of a kind. The festival is held right in front of Miyajima Pier so you can literally step off the ferry and be amongst the crowd. And yes, it is crowded. People are quite prepared to queue up for their favourite dishes for as long as it takes, so if this isn’t your idea of fun, my advice is to go early; the festival starts at 10am.
Grilled or fried oysters are the top choices of the day, but there are many options to choose from. If okonomiyaki, the soul food of Hiroshima is your thing, try the oyster version or keep warm and toasty with dote nabe, a type of hotspot stew with oysters. Whatever you choose you can be guaranteed of eating some of the freshest oysters around. If you like a tipple too, sake (hot or room temperature) and beer are the perfect accompaniment to your oysters. There’s also the option of buying a bag of raw oysters and taking them home to cook as you please.
At any festival in this area there’s always entertainment and the Miyajima Oyster Festival is no exception. Kagura and taiko drumming are on the Sunday so if you bring the kids they’ll be more than happy if oysters aren’t their thing. All in all it’s a great weekend for the whole family and an oyster gastronome’s delight. Best of all it’s a free event so you only pay for what you eat and drink. Rug up and head to Miyajima this February and enjoy some tasty ‘jewels of the sea,’ this winter.
Miyajima Oyster Festival 2017
Dates: February 12-13, 2017
Open: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Price: free admission
Location: In front of ferry terminal in Miyajima, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture (map link)
Official Website (English): www.miyajima.or.jp/english/event/event_kaki.html
Photo by Daderot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons