Comfort food – kamameshi rice
A dish loved by the metal craftsmen of Tsubame
As soon as you open the lid, you’ll be enveloped in the smell of freshly cooked rice. Kamameshi is rice cooked in a cast iron pot along with a flavorful broth and vegetables, seafood or meats. The dish’s name is derived from kama, the pot it is cooked in, and meshi, meaning rice. This now nationally famous rice dish originated in 1923 in Japan.
Kamameshi has historical links with Tsubame in Niigata Prefecture, a city that has been a center for metalworking since the 1600s. Tsubame’s craftsmen are known for their precision and skill in working with metal. The city produces a huge variety of products including kitchenware, tableware and the majority of Japan’s cutlery. Its technical standards are so high that every year the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony Banquet in Sweden uses cutlery produced in Tsubame.
In 1959, a workshop in Tsubame that had been producing metal files, switched to cooking and serving kamameshi. It became popular among CEOs of the metal industry in Tsubame who would treat their employees to kamameshi after the successful completion of big projects. As it was served at parties, children also ate it as souvenirs brought home by their parents. As a result, this tasty, crispy rice dish became a food associated with special occasions and days of celebration in Tsubame.
The more you know the food culture of this city, the more you immerse yourself into the world of craftsmanship.
How to get there
Tsubame-Sanjo Station is two hours from Tokyo by shinkansen. To access by car, Tsubame is 5 minutes drive from the Sanjo-Tsubame Interchange (IC) off the Hokuriku Expressway Outbound Route.