Food & Drink
Tokyo's Island Gourmet Specialties
The Cuisine of the Izu Islands
Tokyo's Izu islands offer visitors hot springs, hiking trails and clear waters for scuba diving and swimming. Separated from the mainland but accessible by airplane and ferry, the islands have developed a distinct food culture, based on local traditions and the rich marine life in the surrounding sea.
Shima Sushi is a specialty of Hachijojima made by marinating seasonal fish in soy sauce and placing it on rice that has been mixed with slightly sweet rice vinegar. A dab of hot mustard in place of the usual wasabi makes for a refreshing mouthful.
Herbs for Health
Another feature of Izu island cuisine is the herb ashitaba (Angelica keiskei). It has long been used as traditional herbal medicine, said to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The delicately bitter leaves add dimension to soba noodles, tea and even ice cream. On Hachijojima, it is often served as tempura, or boiled and served with kusaya, a salt-cured fish.
Isolation from the mainland led to the islands establishing their own breweries, making a distinctive local liquor. The island of Aogashima has around 10 breweries for a population of just 170 people. They make ao-chu, a clear alcohol from a mix of roasted barley, wheat and sweet potato. Some of the breweries offer tours and tastings.