FOOD NIPPON 2016 Summer

Understanding local food is the key to unraveling the mysteries of local culture and the landscape that helped shape it.

FOOD NIPPON is our series of seasonal events focused on "rediscovering Japanese food culture." Since 2013, we have been gathering stories from around Japan that tell of the richness of this country, delving into various foods and customs by learning from our ancestors' wisdom and ingenious adaptations that have been passed down through generations.

For FOOD NIPPON 2016, we have been focusing on the Nansei Shoto Archipelago, Japan’s chain of islands that extend from southernmost Kyushu and have been known since ancient times as a passageway for various people, objects, and cultures. Through our events at HIGASHI-YAMA Tokyo, we introduce to you carefully selected ingredients and liquor from our visits to farms and workshops on the islands, as well as original tableware produced as a result of our exchanges with local craftsmen.

Following our spring event, which featured the Amami Islands, our summer event beginning on June 6th will explore the food culture of Tanegashima, Yakushima, and Kuchinoerabu-jima of the Osumi Islands.

Yakushima is known for its primeval forest and its many mountainous peaks, which gave the island its nickname “the Alps of the Sea.” Since more than 90% of the island is made up of mountains, everybody lives on the strips of flat land along the coast, situated right in between the blessings of the mountains and the sea.

Due to the island’s unique geography, the Kuroshio current carries warm and damp winds up the mountain where they intersect with the chilled winds at the very top, which then become rain and keep the island incessantly damp. For this reason, it is said that in Yakushima “it rains 35 days a month.”

Because the island is blessed with abundant running water and springs, electricity is generated using hydroelectric power. The harsh natural conditions have instilled a sense of awe and respect from the people on the island, inspiring them to live in harmony with nature. Their way of living sustainably is something we all ought to acquire.

We encountered many local dishes unique to this region, including Yakushima deer, which grow up eating the various plants that exist in the forests of Yakushima and are smoked using the firewood of hardwood trees, and high-grade mackerel dashi broth, which uses a repeated process of fermenting and sun-drying.

In contrast to Yakushima, Tanegashima is blessed with agricultural land due to its flat terrain. We went to see a rice-planting festival at Houman Shrine, which is located on the island’s southern tip. Houman Shrine worships the Shinto deity Tamayorihime, who is considered to have brought red rice when she landed on the island, and every April there is a rice-planting festival in which people plant red rice in the field of the shrine. Adjoining this field is a space referred to as the “rice-planting forest,” in which people plant the sacred seedlings of red rice while singing a special rice-planting song, and after a ceremonial dance, they celebrate with a feast that includes red rice, rice balls, and a variety of simmered vegetables.

On the other hand, Urata Shrine of the island’s northern tip enshrines Tamayorihime’s husband Ugaya Fukiaezu no Mikoto and has cultivated white rice since ancient times. While red rice is considered to have come from Indonesia via the Kuroshio current from the south, white rice is considered to have been passed down from the Osumi Peninsula up north. Nurtured by influence from both the south and the north, Tanegashima is an island of rice cultivation that has valued and celebrated the rice plant since ancient times.

Native only to Yakushima and Tanegashima, “Yakutanegoyou” is a species of pine tree (Pinus amamiana) that has reduced significantly in number due to a type of bug that eats the pine trees and causes them to wither, to the point where the tree has been officially classified as endangered. In recent years, there is a lot of research being conducted on the impact of air pollution, and even though efforts to preserve the trees are being carried out, the condition of the Yakutanegoyou pine tree remains severe.

A line of tableware has been produced in honor of the Yakutanegoyou pine tree, carrying forward awareness of the fact that the environmental conditions of the island are continuing to change. We will also be introducing you to the work of Masayuki Yamashita of Haniigama, who creates pottery in Yakushima, as well as the work of Etsushi Noguchi, who makes pottery in Tanegashima.

We hope you will come to enjoy the food and the many charms of the Osumi Islands.
We are looking forward to your visit.

Event Schedule

Throughout the FOOD NIPPON 2016 edition, we will be offering special lunch and dinner menus that feature various ingredients and types of sake from the Nansei Shoto Archipelago, which you can enjoy together with tableware that has been made originally for FOOD NIPPON.

< Spring >

March 7th ~ 19th[finished]

< Summer >

June 6th ~ 18th[finished]

< Autumn >

September 5th ~ 17th[finished]

< Winter >

December 5th ~ 17th[finished]

Lunch course ¥3,500 / Dinner course ¥8,200

(Inc. TAX, Exc. drinks)

FOOD NIPPON 2016 Summer Special Dinner Course

Naorai feast plate / Flying fish and vegetable fried cakes with prawn / Sashimi / Taste palette of the Osumi Islands / Engie chicken steamed in gettou leaf / Deep-fried flying fish and vegetables / Chargrilled Kuroge wagyu beef and Yakushima deer / Steamed rice topped with grated Yakushima yam with mackerel dashi broth / Sweet potato rice cake

¥8,200 (per person)
Served from June 6th to 18th

* As part of our dinner course, some items will also be available a la carte.

* Please note that ingredients may change according to availability.

Water in Yakushima is very soft with a balmy sweet flavor, and it has been selected as one of the best 100 local mineral waters in Japan.
“Mitake” is imo shochu from Yakushima, which is known for its mild flavor. It is distilled from potatoes with local mineral water and is best to drink with the dishes from the island.
We will serve shochu and liquor from selected distillers including six different brands of imo shochu, and brown sugarcane plum wine from Honbo Shuzo. We hope you will enjoy these special drinks alongside our dishes of the Osumi Islands.

Glass ¥800〜
Served from June 6th to 18th

Reservations and inquiries
Tel +81 3 5720 1300

We are exhibiting and selling a selection of crafts from the Nansei Shoto Archipelago at the salon space in HIGASHI-YAMA Tokyo as well as at our sister shop HIGASHIYA GINZA. Please come and visit us.


POLA Ginza Bldg. 2F, 1-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Tel : +81 (0)3 3538 3230
Hours 11am - 7pm
Closed on Mondays (Tuesday if Monday is a National holiday)