One of the things the Japanese are particularly proud of when it comes to their food culture is its seasonality. While this at times can be frustrating when you are craving for something and want to have it, there is something wonderful about the arrival of a seasonal food and the way it is celebrated.
In Hiroshima at springtime, one such celebration is the coming of the oyster season. You may wonder why this would matter being in Tokyo, but the Hiroshima Spring Oyster Festa in Okubo Park means you can experience this seasonal bliss without having to spend four hours on a bullet train.
What is the Hiroshima Spring Oyster Festa?
The Hiroshima Spring Oyster Festa is an annual festival of grilling fun with fresh oysters or ‘kaki’ in Japanese. But why Hiroshima, you may ask? Hiroshima is famed for being the largest oyster fishing area in the country, and at this time of the year as the final cold fades into spring, the oysters are extremely flavorful.
The festival will be held at Okubo Park in Shinjuku until April 5th. The venue can accommodate up to 300 people, and as it is indoors, rain showers are the least of your worries. This makes it ideal for work parties, gatherings with friends, family, or a date (although the romantic connotations of oysters are not the same in Japan as they are elsewhere).
What to eat at the Hiroshima Spring Oyster Festa
There are a variety of oysters available. You can get a kilo of oysters for 1,600JPY, premium oysters at 500JPY each, or ‘green’ oysters, grown in conditions to replicate the famous French Marennes oysters, ‘les vertes’, for 400JPY each.
The oysters come cooked in many different ways. While they are typically grilled at your table, they can also come deep fried, karaage style, ajillo style, in soup, or with rice. For many oyster lovers, it may be a surprise that you cannot eat them raw as is done elsewhere in the world, but perhaps once you try grilled Hiroshima oysters with a hint of lemon sauce from nearby Setoda Island, it will be hard to go back.
There’s more to the menu than just oysters. If you would like to go for a variety of other seafood, there is crab or the Rossini Steak with foie gras.
If you’ve got a hankering for oysters but have a Hanami party to get to, good news is they can organize takeaway. Be the envy of your friends as you dig in to the sweet Hiroshima export under the cherry blossoms.
Details of the Hiroshima Spring Oyster Festa
- Where: Okubo Park, 2-43 Kabukicho. There is no parking, so public transport is recommended.
- The nearest stations are JR-Shinjuku-Station (8 mins) and Seibu-Shinjuku-Station (3mins)
- When: Weekdays 11:00-21:00; Weekends 10:00-21:00 until May 5.
- Tel: 080-9178-0084 (Japanese only)
Other Oyster Huts in Tokyo
If that’s not enough oyster for you, Tokyo is currently seeing a oyster-extravaganza. All around the city oyster huts have popped up. Here are a few to get you started.
Oyster Hut at Asakusa Ekimise
This rooftop terrace provides a lovely view of the city. You can have all-you-can-eat for 60 minute barbecue for 3,680JPY
Where: 1-4-1 Hanakawado, Taito-ku,
When: 11:00-21:00, until Mar 31
Showa Kinen Park Oyster Hut
At this popular barbecue garden you can eat all you like for lunch from 3,480JPY.
When: 10:00-15:30 until Mar 29
Miyagi Oyster House
With branded oysters, this place is a must for oyster lovers, although for groups above 3, a reservation is imperative.
When: Monday to Friday 17:00-23:00 and Sat 12:00 noon-21:00; closed Sundays
By Mark Guthrie
Image: flickr.com "Oysters" by Hideya Hamano (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified