Tsuruoka has some characteristics related to food culture. One is variable geographical features. We have mountains, plains, rivers and sea in the largest area (about 1,300 km2) in the northeastern region of Japan, known as Tohoku.
The second characteristic is our four distinct seasons and bountiful nature. Tsuruoka is famous for its diverse seasonal ingredients. For example, mountains produce mountain vegetables and various mushrooms. The plains produce rice, bamboo shoots, edamame beans, among others. The sea produces cherry salmon, and codfish. Throughout the year, we can enjoy various cuisines, making full use of these seasonal ingredients.
Picturesque places in Tsuruoka
Cedar trees on Mt. Haguro
And, the third is the spiritual climate of Tsuruoka. In Tsuruoka, the Shugendo culture has been inherited from our forerunners. Shugendo is a unique Japanese religion in which mountain worship and Buddhism were integrated. Here, we introduce the cedar trees on Mt. Haguro, one of the Three Mountains of Dewa, which has a history of 1,400 years and is one of the centers of the religious faith. These trees alongside the stone steps are given the highest rating of three stars by the Japanese version of the Michelin Le Guide Vert 2009 and it is one of Japan’s cultural heritages.
The fourth characteristic is that Tsuruoka is renowned for vibrant rice production in the vast Shonai Plain, which has been developed through variety improvement by private rice breeders. The city is also characterized by its agricultural wisdom and ingenuity with more than 50 kinds of indigenous crops passed down to today.
Aiming to exploit the rich “Treasure Trove of Food” for the sustainable development of the regional community, Tsuruoka is undertaking activities which produce a new food culture through fostering gastronomical industries of high added value as well as nurturing our unique gastronomic culture with assistance from civic and creative activities.
Harvesting “Atsumi turnips,”
one of the indigenous crops in Tsuruoka