Kesennuma

“Location / Terrain”

Kesennuma City is located in the northernmost part of Miyagi Prefecture, in the Tohoku region of Japan’s main Honshu Island.  It is a port city with an intricate and fascinating rias coastline facing the Pacific Ocean, and lush mountains.  It is the closest port city to the offshore area where the warm Kuroshio current meets the cold Oyashio current.  This offshore fishing spot is considered to be one of the three most important fishing spots for global fishing.  Kesennuma has a calm and deep natural harbor that has Oshima Island which is also called as "green pearl", situated at its mouth.  The bay is an important connection between Kesennuma and the world as it is an important base for long term commercial fishing, coastal fishing, , aquaculture and the fish processing industry.  Also, Kesennuma area is included in “Sanriku Reconstruction National Park”, and Kesennuma is widely known as a tourist city.  The city also has a fish market where tourists can enjoy fresh fish and other seafood.

“History”

- Etymology of Kesennuma -

The name of the city "Kesennuma" came from Ainu (northern native Japanese) word "Kesemui" or "Kesemoi".  "Kese" means "End of downside" or "End".  "Mui”or Moi" means “calm ocean” or “bay".  Thus the word “ Kesennuma” is presumed to mean the southernmost port of the Ainu people who lived in Tohoku.  

The area known as “Kesennuma” has long been called “Kesema” or “Kesenma”, and it first appeared in the literature as “KESEMA Oshima Shrine” in the history book of Heian period called "Sandai Jitsuroku" written in 901.

Kesennuma has few arable plains, but the lack of arable land is made up with a bountiful ocean.  Because of that, sea and fishing has been an important part of Kesennuma City's history.  Ruins suggests that people who inhabited the area going as far back to the Jomon Period, lived by the blessings of the sea.

Whilst the sea and its bounty have played an important and constructive role in the history of Kesennuma City, it has also been the cause of many disasters in the form of tsunamis.

Like many areas of Japan, Kesennuma City and the coastal areas around it are prone to tsunamis. It was struck by the tsunamis resulting from the following recorded earthquakes in modern times:  -The Meiji Sanriku earthquake of 1896, - The Showa Sanriku earthquake of 1933, - The Chile earthquake of 1960, - The Miyagi-ken earthquake Oki earthquake of 1978, and - The Great East Japan Earthquake of March, 11, 2011.

“The Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster”

- Tribulation, Appreciation and New challenge -

"The Great East Japan Earthquake" caused wide scale devastation in the Tohoku region, claiming 15,900 lives. 2,500 people went missing. The tsunami and the major fires that followed claimed 1,200 lives in Kesnnuma City whilst 220 people went missing.

Kensennuma City and its people are very grateful for the overwhelming help and support from people and organizations throughout the world.

In our mind with immense gratitude and appreciation, step by step, we are steadily progressing towards regeneration.

We recognize and respect the fact that It was a disaster brought by the sea.  However we also recognize and respect the fact that it was also the sea that raised Kesennuma into an attractive town. Effectively, we have chosen a path of coexistence with the sea and the revival of our inheritance of our predecessors.

“The Kesennuma Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction Plan (2011-2021)” formulated by the city in full consultation of its citizens, has the theme of “Zero Tsunami Death City” as its foundational principle as way of coping with and resisting disaster damage and deaths.  The City has embarked on a reconstruction and revival program that focuses on the long standing traditional theme and practice of coexistence with the ocean.  The subtitle “Living with the Ocean” which was chosen by a public offering now forms the spiritual backbone of the community and its people.

 

Traditional Recipes (Regional Food)

AZARA

Azara is a typical regional Kesennuma dish and is based on the idea of enjoying food without wasting It consists of a stew containing Menuke (a red rockfish), pickled cabbage, red snapper, pickled cabbage and sake cakes.  Azara is at its best from March to May when the pickled cabbage is too sour.   Once one has tried Azara, one can't help coming back for more. It is addictive. There are many varieties and procedures for making Azara, and these vary from family to family.  

ONISHIME

Onishime is a dish for when friends of relatives gather.  It is made from fish stock of tuna bones, swordfish and menuke that is cooked with local ingredients and vegetables such as radish, carrots, burdock, and SATSUMAAGE. The type of stock and ingredients vary from occasion to occasion and from household to household.  

TSUMIRE JIRU (Saury Meatball Soup)

Soup with ground sour fillet meatballs is called Tsumire Jiru.  This dish forms a popular part of home cooking in Kesennuma.  Also, there are various original ground sour recipes such as “Kesennuma AGE” (Kesennuma Fries) which is ground sour, carrots, green peas and beaten eggs, fried in oval shape. 

KATSUO NO ARA JIRU (Bonito Soup)

“Ara” means bone of fish.  Kesennuma is Japan's No.1 bonito fishing port, and the leftover bones after processing bonitos are cut into small pieces, stewed with radishes, carrots, tofu, green onions etc, and seasoned with miso or soy sauce.This is KATSUO NO ARA JIRU.  This is another example of the food culture of the region of enjoying food without wasting.

HATTO (Hatto Soup)

HATTO is also called "Tsumeri" or "Suiton."  It is a soup of strips of flat flour dough, stewed with vegetables such as radish and shiitake mushrooms and seasoned with soy sauce.  There are many variations of Hatto, for example, "Kanibatto" with crab, "Azukibatto" with sweat boiled red beans etc.  Hatto is eaten as main dish or as snacks.  During a OBON season, some families make “Horokibatto” (Senakabatto) with sprinkled KINAKO flour.

DONKO JIRU (Greenling Soup)

DONKO JIRU is the staple winter soup of the region.  First the gills of DONKO (Whitespotted Greenling) are removed, next they are chopped without removing the heads and guts, then they are boiled with radish, carrots and burdocks.  You can season it with soy sauce or miso as you prefer.

KURUMI MOCHI (Walnut Rice Cake)

In a New Year season, we make KURUMI MOCHI.  Grind walnut in a mortar, add sugar, salt and a little bit of soy sauce, and stir. Transfer it to a pot, add water and tea, simmer it to a pulp (add sake as you like).  Then grill and boil a rice cake, and dip it in the walnut sauce.  Add tofu for mellower taste. Locally produced rich taste walnuts called “Onigurumi” are very hard that their shells don’t break unless you use a hammer.

Speciality products (and their best season)

KAKI (Oyster) -February to April-

Kesennuma oysters are famous for the "Forest is a lover of the sea" movement, which is to cherish the forest to protect the rich ocean.  The Kesennuma oyster is rich in minerals from the lush green forest that descends down from the rivers.  Oysters harvested from October to March are rich in taste and there are a variety of recipes for cooking them.  They are good to eat raw, boiled or fried.  The oyster population was also devastated by 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.  The people of France helped us in that crisis.

Back in the 1970s Miyagi’s oyster seeds were sent to France to save the French oyster farming from extinction, this time oyster seeds were sent from France by air as "French Repaying Project" that saved our oyster farming.

HOYA (Sea squirt) -March to August-

By eating HOYA, you can enjoy five kinds of taste, namely: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, umami and bitterness.  This area’s Hoyas have less fishy smell and have stronger sweetness.  Hoyas are also called "sea pineapple" because of their shapes.  Peel the outer skin and eat the orange colored body inside.  By eating as sashimi or vinegared, you can enjoy the distinctive sea aroma.  Also, it can be put in a soup, grilled, or cooked in tempura.

KATSUO (Bonito) -May to November-

As Kesennuma is Japan's No.1 bonito fishing port, bonito is the representative fish of the city along with saury.  The bonitos that swim northward from late May to early June are called “Hatsugatsuo” and are less greasy, and plain.  The bonitos that swim southward from Hokkaido in autumn are full of fatty meat and are called "Modorikatsuo".  Modorikatsuo is said to be more delicious than tuna.

MANBO (Sunfish) -June to August-

Sunfish are caught from spring to summer by spear fishing and stationary net fishing, offshore from Kensunnuma. The meat is white and soft, and you can enjoy its crunchy texture.  The people of Kensunnuma traditionally eat them with soy vinegar.]

SANMA (Saury) –August to November-

Grilled salted saury is a popular fall dish, but the sauries landed off Kesennuma are so fresh that they are eaten raw by the locals as sashimi or minced.  There are also various other methods of cooking saury such as SURIMI (mince), HIRAKI (fillet) and NITSUKE (stew).

AWABI&UNI (Abalone& Sea urchin) -January to February / May to August-

Abalone and sea urchin represents the grace of the Sanriku seashore.  Fishermen fish in small boats early in the morning on the specific days called "KAIKOH".  Because of their freshness and rich flavor, it is popular to eat them raw, but also they are eaten as AWABI DON (abalone rice bowls) and UNI DON (sea urchin rice bowls).

WAKAME seaweed -January to March-

Wakame are cultivated in the shallow sea of Kesennuma Bay and has a good taste and color.  In recent years, it is getting popular as a health food because it is rich in minerals, and is used not only for Japanese food but also for western style salads.  There are two types of Wakame seaweed products.  One is "Enzo Wakame" which is boiled and salted, and the other is "Kanso Wakame" which is dried.

FUKAHIRE (Shark fin) -whole year-

FUKAHIRE is a fin of blue shark and prized as a luxury food ingredient of Chinese cuisine.  FUKAHIRE is a national brand representing Kesennuma.  Kesennuma is No.1 in the amount of shark landing and the amount of shark processing products.  FUKAHIRE are used for soup, ramen, sushi and other items.  Not only their meats are distributed as food, shark bones are used for dietary supplements, and their leather are used for producing leather goods such as leather bags.  All shark parts are used up without any wastage. 

MAGURO (Tuna) -whole year-

Tuna live in warm and tropical waters of the world.   Here are many kinds of tuna landed of Kesennuma port such as “Kuromaguro” (Bluefin Tuna), “Mebachimaguro” (Bigeye Tuna), “Binnagamaguro” (Albacore Tuna), “Kihadamaguro” (Yellowfin Tuna) etc.  With their exquisite freshness, you can enjoy them as AKAMI (red tuna) sashimi, CHUTORO (semi-fatty tuna) sashimi or OHTORO (fatty tuna) sashimi.

MEKAJIKI (Swordfish) -whole year-

MEKAJIKI are 4 meters maximum in length and are the biggest specie in the swordfish family.  Their upper jaws extend like long swords.  Though there are landed throughout the year, swordfish exclusively caught by spear fishing during the summer are called "Natsumeka", and they are characterized by their less greasy and plain flavor.  "Fuyumeka", swordfish landed from October to March, has plenty of fat, and is known to be so greasy that it renders a knife useless.  You can enjoy its rich greasy flavor.  They are good for steak, sashimi, teriyaki, and ingredients for curry.  The meat of base part of fin is called "Harmonica" and is good for salt-grilling or boilng.  In recent times recipes for "MekaSuki" ( thick cuts of meats for sukiyaki) and "Mekashabu" ( sliced meats for shabu-shabu) are becoming popular too.

 

Project (Event)

January

  • Fish Market’s First Auction - The vibrant start of the port city of the year
  • Osaaki Shrine Festival - The festival at the Osaki Shrine at the tip of the Karatsu Peninsula, praying for sound health and good fishery for the year

April

  • Kesennuma Tsubaki marathon - The citizen marathon in camellia blooming Kesennuma Oshima Island

May

  • Kesennuma Tenki Festival (Schedule varies) – A handmade kite festival
  • Tokusenjo Azalea Festival (late May) – 500 thousand azalea bloom at Mt. Tokusenjo

July

  • Beach Opening

August

  • Kesennuma Minato Festival - The biggest event in this region with nearly 70 years of history.

October

  • Petit Chef Contest in Kesennuma – A cooking contest of local recipes using local products for school kids to learn about the spirit of slow food  
  • Mo-Land festival – A ranch festival for families
  • Kesennuma City Industry Festival - Many local seafood and agricultural products are exhibited and sold at low prices

December

  • Karukuwa Gottsuo Fair – Fresh local products at low prices.  Oysters and scallops tasting is available.
  • Abalone festival - Live abalone sold at low price at the “Motoyoshi Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Direct Sale Center” next to “Road Station Oya Kaigan”.

 

【位置・地勢】

気仙沼市は,日本の本州の東北地方の宮城県最北端に位置し,太平洋に面した複雑に入り組むリアス式海岸と緑豊かな山に抱かれた美しい港町です。沖合いには,黒潮(暖流)と親潮(寒流)が交錯。漁業資源が豊かな世界三大漁場のひとつを控え,湾口に「緑の真珠」と詠われる大島を抱く奥行きのある波静かな天然の良港,古くから遠洋漁業の基地として世界とつながり,養殖業を主とした沿岸漁業や水産加工業の盛んな日本を代表する水産都市です。

 また,三陸復興国立公園に含まれ,その雄大な自然景観と魚市場に水揚げされる新鮮な魚介類を求め,多くの人々が訪れる観光都市としても広く知られています。

 

【歴史】

■気仙沼の語源

 「気仙沼」はアイヌ語の「ケセムイ」または「ケセモイ」であり,「ケセ」は「下のはずれ」あるいは「終わり」の「ムイ,モイ」は「波静かな海,浦,入江」の意味。即ち東北地方にも住んでいたアイヌ民族の勢力が及ぶ終端の港ということから生まれたものと推測されています。

 

■気仙沼の地名は,古くから計仙麻(けせま,けせんま)と言われ,文献に現れたのは,平安時代の歴史書「三代実録」(901年)に計仙麻大島神社とあるのが最初です。

 縄文時代からの遺跡もあり,海の恵みを求めて人々が暮らしていたことがわかります。

 耕作に適した平野が少ない気仙沼ですが,目の前には豊かで広大な海があります。気仙沼の歴史は,この海に活路を求めた漁業の歴史であり,海を糧に発展してきました。

 そんな恵み豊かな自然に囲まれた気仙沼ですが,その自然が生む大津波がたびたびこのまちを襲ってきました。

近代に入ってからでも1896年明治三陸地震,1933年昭和三陸大地震,1960年チリ地震津波,1978年宮城県沖地震。そして2011年3月11日に発生した東日本大震災…。

 

■東日本大震災

~試練,そして感謝とともに新たな「挑戦」へ~

 「東日本大震災」は東北地方を中心に死者約1万5,900人,行方不明者約2,500人の犠牲者をもたらしました。気仙沼市も大津波とその後の大規模な火災で,1,200人以上が亡くなり約220人が行方不明となり,中心である沿岸部に壊滅的な打撃を受けました。

 震災直後から復興作業を続ける現在まで,世界中から数えきれないほど温かいご支援をいただきました。

 語りつくせない感謝の思いを胸に,一歩ずつではありますが,確実に再生に向けた歩みを進めています。

 海がもたらした災禍ではあります。しかし,気仙沼を魅力ある町に高めたのも海。先人から受け継いだ郷土を復興するために私たちが選んだのは海との共生の道です。

 市が,市民とともに策定した「気仙沼市震災復興計画」(2011~2021年)は震災を教訓に「津波死ゼロのまちづくり」を最優先項目の一つとして掲げ災害に強い町を目指すとともに,公募で選んだ「海と生きる」という副題は町の,市民のバックボーンとなっています。

 

【伝統的なレシピ(郷土料理)】

●あざら

 よく漬け込んだ白菜とメヌケという赤い魚(メバルの仲間),酒かすと煮込んでつくる,もともとは残りものを捨てずにおいしく食べようという気仙沼を代表する郷土料理です。白菜漬けが酸っぱくなりすぎる3~5月が旬となり,その独特の味わいは,一度食べると病みつきになるともいわれています。家庭ごとにこだわりの手順や分量があり,その違いも味わいの一つです。

●お煮しめ

 気仙沼地方では親類や友人が集う席で「お煮しめ」がよく饗されます。マグロ,メカ,メヌケのあらなどでだしを取り,大根,人参,ごぼう,さつま揚げなど様々な地場産物を使って甘辛く煮込んだ料理です。食べる席や各家庭により,だしや野菜の種類,具材の切り方が異なります。

●サンマのすり身汁(つみれ汁)

 三枚おろしにしたサンマの身をすり,適当な大きさに丸めてつまみ取り,汁に入れたものをすり身汁といい,気仙沼地方では家庭料理としてよく食べられています。また,サンマのすり身に人参やグリーンピース,溶き卵を加え小判型にまとめて油で揚げた「気仙沼揚げ」など,すり身は創意工夫が加わりいろいろな調理法があります。

●カツオのあら汁

 「あら」とは魚の骨のこと。生鮮カツオ水揚げ日本一の気仙沼では,カツオを3枚におろす際にでる「あら」を食べやすい大きさに切り,大根・人参・豆腐・ネギなどとともに煮て,味噌または醤油仕立てで食べます。魚をあますことなく食べる当地域の食文化の代表格のひとつです。

●はっと(はっと汁)

 「つめり」や「すいとん」とも言われます。小麦粉をこねて寝かせたタネを平らに伸ばしながら,大根やしいたけなどの野菜を煮た汁にちぎり入れ,醤油などで調味した料理です。汁にカニを加えた「かにばっとう」や煮小豆を絡めた「あずきばっとう」などバリエーションも豊富。主食やおやつにしていました。お盆にはきな粉をまぶした「ほろきばっどう(せなかばっとう)」を作る家庭もあります。

●どんこ汁

 当地方の冬の味覚で,汁物の代表格とされるどんこ汁。ドンコ(エゾアイナメ)のえらを除き,頭ごと内臓を取らずにぶつ切りにし,大根,人参,ごぼうなどを入れ,好みによって醤油や味噌で味付けします。

●くるみ餅

 お正月に,くるみをすり鉢ですりつぶし,砂糖と塩少々,しょう油少々を加え,すり混ぜる。鍋に移し水やお茶を加え,温めてトロトロにする(好みで日本酒も)。焼いたお餅を湯通ししてやわらかくし,絡めて食べます。豆腐を入れて食べると味がまろやかになります。くるみは地元産の濃厚な味のオニグルミ。金づちでないと割れません。

 

【特産品(食べる時期)】

●カキ(2~4月)

豊かな海を守るために森を大切にする「森は海の恋人」運動で有名な気仙沼産のカキは,緑豊かな森の養分が川を下ってリアス式海岸に注ぎ込み,新鮮でミネラルが豊富です。10月から3月にかけて収穫されるカキは,味が濃厚で生はもちろん,鍋にして良し,フライにして良しと様々な食べ方があります。そのカキも2011年の東日本大震災により壊滅的な被害を受けました。その窮地にご支援くださったのがフランスの方々でした。

1970年代にフランスのカキ養殖の絶滅の危機を救った日本(宮城)のマガキ種が,今度は「フランスお返しプロジェクト」として,遠くフランスからカキの種を空輸していただき,本市のカキ養殖も復活することができました。

●ホヤ(3~8月)

ホヤはひとつの食材で「甘味・酸味・塩味・旨味」に「苦み」を加えた5種類の味を楽しむことができます。三陸のホヤは臭みが少なく,甘みが強い。形から「海のパイナップル」と呼ばれており,外皮をむいて,中のオレンジ色の身を食べます。刺身や酢の物にすると,独特の磯の香りがしておいしいです。その他,椀種や焼き物,天ぷらにすることができます。

●カツオ(5~11月)

生鮮カツオの水揚げ連続日本一を誇り,サンマと並び本市を代表するカツオ。5月下旬から6月上旬に北上する初ガツオはさっぱりとした味わい。秋に北海道沖から南下し,脂がのったカツオは「戻りカツオ」と呼ばれ,マグロより美味しいと評判です。

●マンボウ(6~8月)

気仙沼の近海で突きん棒や定置網で春から夏にかけて漁獲されるマンボウ。肉は白くて柔らかく,シャキ,シャキとした食感が楽しめます。酢味噌で食べるのが気仙沼流です。

●サンマ(8~11月)

秋の味覚を象徴する「サンマ」は塩焼きのイメージが強いですが,気仙沼港に水揚げされるサンマは鮮度が良く,地元では刺身やたたきにして食べられています。その他にも,すり身や開き,煮付けなど,様々な料理方法があります

●アワビ・ウニ(1~2月・5~8月)

三陸の磯の恵みを代表する食材として「アワビ」と「ウニ」があります。「開口」と呼ばれる特定日に朝早くから漁師さん達が小舟で漁を行います。鮮度と風味が良く生で食べるのが一般的ですが,当地域ではアワビ御飯,ウニ丼,ウニ御飯として食べられることもあります。

●ワカメ(1~3月)

気仙沼湾の浅海で養殖されているワカメは,味・色とも良く,近年,ミネラルが豊富な健康食として人気があり,和食のみならずサラダにも使用されます。ワカメには,いったん煮あげたものに塩を加えた「塩蔵ワカメ」と,天日乾しにした「乾燥ワカメ」の2種類があります。

●フカヒレ(通年)

ヨシキリザメのひれである「フカヒレ」は中華料理の高級食材として珍重され,気仙沼を代表する全国ブランドです。サメの水揚げ,フカヒレの生産量,共に日本一を誇り,姿煮を始め,スープやラーメン,鮨などに使用されています。またサメの骨は健康食品に,身は食用として,さらに皮はバッグなどの皮革製品など捨てるところなく消費されています。

●マグロ(通年)

マグロは世界の温・熱帯の海域に分布し,その種類も多く,気仙沼港にはクロマグロ,メバチ,ビンナガ,キハダ等が水揚げされています。鮮度が命の生マグロの刺身は赤身,中トロ,大トロと違った味わいが堪能できます。

●メカジキ(通年)

メカジキは全長4mにもなりカジキ類で最大級。上あごが剣のように長く伸びている。年間を通して水揚げがありますが,夏場,主に突きん棒漁で収穫されるものは「夏メカ」と呼ばれ,脂のりが穏やかであっさりとした味わいが特徴です。10月~3月に水揚げされる「冬メカ」は,たっぷりと脂を蓄えており,切った包丁がすぐに使い物にならなくなるほどで,濃厚な旨みを楽しめます。刺身にステーキに,照り焼き,カレーの具にと大活躍。背ビレの付け根部分「ハーモニカ」は塩焼きや煮付けにして,しゃぶっておいしい。最近のレシピでは厚切りで「メカすき」,薄切りで「メカしゃぶ」が人気です。

 

【プロジェクト(イベント)】

 1月 魚市場初入札

     活気にあふれる,港町「気仙沼」の1年のスタート。

    御崎神社祭典

     漁師や水産業関係者の信仰を集める唐桑半島先端の御崎神社ではどんと祭などが行われ,無病息災と豊漁を願う。

4月 気仙沼つばきマラソン

     つばき咲く気仙沼大島を舞台に繰り広げられる市民マラソン。

 5月 気仙沼天旗まつり

     手作りの凧揚げ大会(開催時期は変わる場合あり。)

    徳仙丈つつじまつり(5月下旬)

     標高711mの徳仙丈山に50万本のツツジが咲き誇る。

 7月 海水浴場海開き

 8月 気仙沼みなとまつり

     70年近い歴史を持つ,この地方で最大のイベント。パレードや市民参加の「はまらいんや踊り」。打ちばやしの大競演,海上花火大会で夏を楽しむ。

 10月 プチシェフコンテストin気仙沼

     小学生から高校生(18歳以下の社会人を含む)までを対象とする料理コンテスト。本地域で生産される豊富で新鮮な食材を用いた料理を作り,味わうことにより,地域の食材や伝統的な料理,料理技法などを学ぶこと,併せて,料理を通して,食材のすばらしさ,食育の大切さを大人と子供達が共に考え,スローフードの精神を学ぶとともに,世代間の交流の機会を設けるために実施。

モ~ランドまつり

     ポニーやウサギと遊んだり,乳搾り・バター手作り体験。バーベキューなど,1日中親子で楽しめる牧場まつり。

    気仙沼市産業まつり

     当地方の海産物・農産物などが勢揃いし,おまつり価格で販売。

 12月 唐桑ごっつぉーフェア

     新鮮な地場産品の格安販売。カキ・ホタテの試食あり。

    あわびまつり

     「道の駅」大谷海岸に併設する本吉農林水産物直売センターで,活アワビを格安販売。