2024.01 A Culinary Journey Through the Terroir of Mie [PR]
Savor Matsusaka beef at Gyugin Honten
Matsusaka in central Mie Prefecture is renowned for its wagyu beef. Matsusaka beef ranks among Japan’s top three wagyu brands alongside Kobe beef and Omi beef. Recognized as a culinary masterpiece, Matsusaka beef is one of the world’s most expensive varieties due to the painstaking care taken to raise the cattle and produce the delicately marbled cuts. Calves from Hyogo Prefecture must be raised for more than 900 days in Matsusaka before they can be considered “Tokusan Matsusaka Ushi”, the highest grade of beef cattle.
Be sure to try the highest grade of Matsusaka beef at one of the specialist restaurants in the region. The elegant Gyugin Honten is a renovated ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that specializes in sukiyaki dishes. Sukiyaki is an ideal dish to savor the flavor of Matsusaka beef. The sweet, delicate aroma and melt-in-your-mouth sensation of wagyu beef is enhanced by quickly simmering thin slices of meat in a light broth of sweetened soy sauce. The fat melting point of Matsusaka beef is so low compared to other wagyu beef that it melts even at room temperature. At Gyugin, the staff cook each slice of beef in front of you.
Explore Mie’s rich seasonal ingredients at Hinakaya
The village of Okase near Matsusaka City embodies the essence of “satoyama”, the harmonious coexistence of communities, forests, and mountains. In this idyllic country setting with rich forests and a crystal-clear river, the restaurant Hinakaya specializes in cuisine that uses locally sourced ingredients and makes the most of the terroir. The restaurant features a thatched roof, and the slightly rustic appearance belies the fact that Hinakaya was awarded a star in the Michelin Guide Aichi-Gifu-Mie 2019 Special Edition.
The restaurant features traditional touches like a kamado wood-burning stove, a sunken hearth where guests can relax and warm themselves, and both wood-floor and tatami rooms, with views of the surrounding landscape. Experience the surrounding nature and exquisite cuisine with all five senses. Mie Prefecture is abundant in seasonal ingredients including vegetables, wild plants, and fish, and the monthly kaiseki course meals at Hinakaya are made from the most delectable seasonal ingredients, meticulously chosen for their quality and freshness.
Taste the treasures of the sea at Shima Kanko Hotel
On the shores of Ago Bay in Shima City, within Ise-Shima National Park, the prestigious Shima Kanko Hotel was the venue of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016. At the two restaurants “La Mer The Classic” within the historical Shima Kanko Hotel, and “La Mer” within the The Bay Suites, the contemporary Shima Kanko Hotel, you can enjoy views of the intricate rias coastline while dining on French seafood cuisine made from abundant seafood.
Ise Ebi (Japanese spiny lobster) in particular is regarded as the king of seafood, reaching up to 30 cm in length. This luxurious lobster is a symbol of the Ise-Shima region’s renowned cuisine: a winter delicacy characterized by its elegant sweetness and flavorful flesh. The hotel’s famous Ise Ebi Cream Soup and Ise Ebi American Sauce are included in the set meals at both restaurants.
At the French restaurant “La Mer” in The Bay Suites, you can indulge in Ise-Shima gastronomy, which expresses the variety of ingredients born from Mie’s rich natural environment and Japanese food culture through French cuisine.
Sip famous Takijiman sake and visit the source of its precious water
Nabari City is in the Iga region, famous for the Igaryu ninjas. Around the secluded Akame 48 Falls where the Igaryu ninjas once trained, you can find the secret of the locally brewed sake. Takijiman Brewery produces the Takijiman Junmai Daiginjo sake that was served to heads of state on the second day of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016. The brewery draws its high quality, soft brewing water from underground streams fed by the Akame 48 Falls. The result is a smooth, subtle drinking experience, with delicate flavors that unfold in the mouth.
You can walk to the actual Akame 48 Falls, a short distance from the brewery. In this secluded region where the Igaryu ninjas once roamed, you will find a deep and quiet valley, created by the flow of the clear rapids and surrounded by dense forest. A 3.3-km promenade along the valley connects the waterfalls. The valley offers varying scenic views throughout the seasons, with cherry blossoms in spring, lush greenery in summer, and vibrant leaves in fall.
There are actually more than 48 waterfalls, as the number 48 has a nuance of “many” in Japanese. It takes about three hours to explore all the different waterfalls. Some cascade powerfully from a great height, and others flow gently. Take your time to feel the healing power of the forest, enveloped in the scents of the leaves, the sounds of the water, and the quiet beauty of the moss-covered rocks.
On the way back from the waterfalls, stop by the Takijiman Brewery, where you can buy their signature sake at the on-site shop. The Iga region is a famous sake-producing area due to its high-quality rice and water. As such, there are many famous breweries, each producing a range of excellent sake.
How to get there
Mie Prefecture can be accessed via two airports: Chubu Centrair International Airport and Kansai International Airport. Limited express trains are available from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya. From Tokyo, travelers can take the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train) via Nagoya or an overnight express bus.
Mie Prefecture Official Website
Shima Kanko Hotel
TAKIJIMAN SAKE BREWING CO., LTD.
The Akame 48 Falls