An impressive tour to learn about a Japanese delicacy

An impressive tour to learn about a Japanese delicacy

by Justin Velgus
Japan Travel

The city of Sendai is most commonly called the City of Trees for its abundance of nature and tree-lined streets. However, it is also a gourmet capital with at least 15 specialties or so (that I know of) born or adopted by the city. While the most famous food is undoubtedly grilled cow tongue "gyutan", kamaboko is also very popular with locals and some travelers. Kamaboko is mix of pureed fish grilled over an electric cooker. It often comes in the shape of a bamboo leaf in which case it is known as sasa-kamaboko. There are shops all over the city selling this treat, but to learn about it in detail, head to the Kanezaki Kamaboko Factory (かまぼこの鐘崎 笹かま館).

Kanezaki is one of a handful of competing companies in the area which specialize in kamaboko. Their factory in the south of Sendai offers an impressive 25 minute free tour, with several other onsite facilities to create a fun outing for nearly anyone. Reservations are required but can be made on the spot in person if there is room. There are tours throughout the day and each tour has a 20 people limit. The tour is in Japanese, but it is easy to enough to understand thanks to picutres, a video, seeing machines and workers through glass windows, and taste-testing a free sample. The knowlegable guide covers everything from ingreient selection to production, to sales. It was interesting to learn the bamboo shape is borrowed from the family crest of Date Masamune, founder of Sendai 400 years ago. Pictures are not allowed during the tour. You will change into slippers, so bring appropiate footwear and socks.

After the tour, there is still much to do. There is an art gallery on the second floor across from some model ships. In fact, everywhere around the buildings felt decorated in some way, yet not over-the-top, even despite some fantastical designs like flying fish. A company store sells kamaboko, various snacks, and sovenirs. Back near the entrance there is a restaurant selling main courses, side dishes, and everyone's favorite: soft serve ice cream. If you want more kamaboko you have two options. The fast way is to grill a kamaboko over an electric cooker for a few hundred yen and 15 minutes. Or do the full 500 yen experience to actually mold the shape, grill, and eat, taking about 30 minutes. In the parking lot of Kanezaki Kamaboko Factory is a Tanabata Museum (article and link coming soon).

Access via 20-30 minute bus ride from JR Sendai Station. Buses come two to three times and hours. Alternatively, walk 30 minutes from Fukudamachi Station on the Senseki Line. If traveling by car, stop by the nearby Kirin Beer Factory (drivers cannot drink when visiting).

ADDRESS: 984-0001 Miyagi Prefecture, Sendai City, Wakabayashi Ward, Tsurushiromachi 6-65
TEL: 022-231-5141
MAIL: webmaster@kanezaki.co.jp
WEBSITE: www.kanezaki.co.jp (Japanese)

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