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Year Round Oysters!

Year Round Oysters!

Year Round Oysters! Let’s Go to Eat Delicious Oysters in Akkeshi

Akkeshi is one of the most famous oyster farming areas in Hokkaido. Did you also know that you can eat them year-round?

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Akkeshi town is located in eastern Hokkaido, between Kushiro city and Nemuro city. It takes about 50 minutes from Kushiro by car. The town is surrounded by ocean and rich fertile lands and has a developing history to be a core of eastern Hokkaido since the Edo period (1603-1868CE).

※ This content was originally from “Hokkaido Labo”

1. The Charm of Oysters from Akkeshi

Akkeshi is home to the only oyster farm in Japan that ships year round. The oysters are plump and have a rich sweet taste. Lake Akkeshi, with water fed from Pacific Ocean sea water and from fresh rivers full of mountain and marshland nutrients, has pristine conditions for breeding delicious oysters.

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1-1 Oysters Grew Naturally in Akkeshi Since Ancient Times

In Akkeshi, there are remains and signs that show oysters were thriving there since long ago. Some say that Akkeshi comes from “Akkekeshi” from the native Ainu language, which means “the place where oysters can be found”.

Nowadays, oysters are mostly farm-raised, even though the environment is still perfect for naturally growing oysters even today.

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From the “Oyster Island Shrine”, which is said to have been built before 1781, people of Akkeshi back then are depicted to have lived in harmony with oysters.

1-2 Why Can We Eat Oysters Year Round?

The water temperatures of Akkeshi are relatively lower than lakes in southern Japan. The cooler water slows the oysters’ growth, allowing farmers to control the harvest times, and thus, be able to ship oysters year round. The slower growth also mean that oysters gradually absorb nutrition over a longer time, promoting a naturally rich and delicious flavor.

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Lake Akkeshi is connected to the Pacific Ocean by the Akkeshi Bay, a body of sea water full of natural plankton. The lake is also directly fed by fresh water from the Bekanbeushi River, with nutrients brought down from the mountains and marshlands. With these perfect conditions, the oysters grow juicy and have a savory taste.

1-3 When is the Best Season?

The most delicious season is in winter, especially between December and February. During this time, Lake Akkeshi is covered with ice and a white blanket of snow. As the oysters live there and wait for the harsh winter to pass, they slowly collect glycogen and become soft and full of flavor.

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1-4 Amazing Oyster Nutrients

Nutrients from oysters are almost equal to that of milk from mammals. Often called “Sea Milk”, the nutrients contain high quantities of protein, glycogen, vitamins, iron, and zinc, all of which are necessary for a human body to survive.Oysters are naturally high in iron. We often eat oysters with lemon juice because it helps digesting the mineral better. Iron is essential in helping our bodies to maintain a proper temperature and can also improve poor blood circulation. Oysters are high in protein, low in fat, and also contain nutrients to keep our skin healthy.

1-5 Three Kinds of Oysters in Akkeshi

There are 3 kinds of oysters being farmed in Akkeshi

< Kakiemon >
[Born and Raised in Akkeshi]

These are small in size, plump, and generally round in shape. It is farmed using the “single-seed” method, which is suitable for the Akkeshi climate and condenses the rich natural flavor.

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< Maruemon >
[Born in Sanriku and Raised in Akkeshi]

The young oysters first start off in Sanriku in southern Hokkaido and later slowly bred in the Sea of Akkeshi with time and affection. It is also small and round, but the meat is full and thick.

<Nagaemon>
[Born in Sanriku and Raised in both Sanriku and Akkeshi]

These oysters grow to large size and have a long flat shell. They are first raised in Sanriku for a while and then brought to Akkeshi for the final stage, resulting in oysters that have thick meat and large shells.

2. Where to Buy and Eat Oysters 

[Direct Sales Store of the Akkeshi Fisheries Cooperative Association “A-uroko”]

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Let us introduce where you can buy and eat oysters. In Akkeshi, there are a lot of seafood caught year round. The [Direct Sales Store of the Akkeshi Fisheries Cooperative Association “A-uroko”] sells oysters, clams, scallops, sea urchins, surf clam, as well as the luxury saury brand “Daikoku Sanma”.

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When buying oysters (Kakiemon and Maruemon) here, you can choose from sizes: M, L, LL, 3L. They are sized depending on the weight.

You can also eat them at the “Eat-in Corner” too!

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They also have staff there that can teach you how to shell the fresh oysters before eating them.

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What a great time eating fresh oysters! It is rich, creamy, and delicious!

If you prefer, there is also a microwave in the “Eat-in Corner” to steam your oysters.

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This sign explains how to steam your oysters using the microwave. Please be careful when handling knives.

The piping hot oysters are plump and do not have any distinct shellfish smell. The taste is light and they are easy to eat.

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Customers can try the oysters and compare different kinds right in the store and buy them as gifts or souvenirs. They also offer packing and shipping within Japan.

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At the store, customers can buy seafood and oysters caught that same day! As said before, fresh oysters in Akkeshi can be eaten year round, but the flavor is at its fullest during the winter season between December and March, while the texture is creamier between August to October.

[Direct Sales Store of the Akkeshi Fisheries Cooperative Association “A-uroko”]
Website: http://www.a-uroko.or.jp/index.html

Address: 5 Chome-3 Minatomachi, Akkeshi-Cho, Akkeshi District, Hokkaido

Business Hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: Tuesdays (Open every day between May to December)
Parking: Available

3. Oysters at the Akkeshi Mikaku Terminal Conchiglie

Next, we will introduce the road station, Akkeshi Mikaku Terminal Conchiglie. Conchiglie means shell-shaped food. From here, you can also see the street lined with Akkeshi houses.

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In the road station, there is tourist information, exhibition sales, a café, and an aquarium on the first floor. Above that, on the second floor, there are 2 restaurants and a fish market. Lastly, on the third floor, there is an observation room.

I tried the oyster-centric lunch at the Escale Restaurant on the second floor. They use local ingredients in their dishes and have recipes that bring out the flavors of each season in Akkeshi.

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[Fresh Oysters]

These have the perfect flavor from the sea without any seasoning. It comes with special sauce or lemon wedges to suit your personal tastes.

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[Oyster Ruibe]

Ruibe is frozen raw oysters. It has a smooth texture and a milky flavor that melts in your mouth.

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[Oyster Steak]

What better way to enjoy a steak than with the fresh flavor of oysters and savory butter.

There are more popular items on the menu too. There is something for everyone here.

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On the second floor, you can grill the fresh seafood you choose at the Sumiyaki Aburiya charcoal barbecue restaurant.

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Inside the fish tank, there are oysters, scallops, and big clams! A meat and vegetables menu is available too. After you choose and pay for your fresh seafood, you sit down and grill it by yourself over the hot charcoals.

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It is so satisfying here for oyster lovers, to grill and enjoy the fresh shellfish.

More information can be found on their website.

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[Akkeshi Mikaku Terminal Conchiglie]

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[Akkeshi Mikaku Terminal Conchiglie]

Website:http://www.conchiglie.net

Address: 2 Chome-2 Suminoe, Akkeshi, Akkeshi District, Hokkaido

Telephone: 0153-53-4139

Business Hours:
April to October 9:00-21:00
November to December 10:00-19:00
January to March 10:00-18:00

Closed: Mondays (Tuesday if that Monday is a national holiday)

Parking: Available

4. Oyster Event in Akkeshi

There is also a special oyster event in Akkeshi too! Let’s take a look.

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[The Akkeshi Cherry Blossom and Oyster Festival]

<From the middle to the end of May for 9 days at Nenohi Park>

At this festival, there are many small shops and vendors that sell oysters, clams, oyster lunch boxes, and clam soup. You can also barbecue seafood there yourself! They rent out barbecue grills and sell charcoal and picnic sheets. Many tourists and locals will be here enjoying under the cherry blossoms. More information can be found on their website.

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<From the beginning of October for 10 days>

There are lots of small shops and vendors that sell oysters, clams, saury, scallops, oyster ramen, oyster lunch boxes, and clam soup. Just like in the spring event, visitors can barbecue their own seafood there. More information can be found on their website.

So, what did you think?

Akkeshi is the only place where you can eat fresh oysters year round!

For sure, if you love oysters, Akkeshi is the place for your next trip.

※ This content was originally from “Hokkaido Labo”.