Gourmet Ehime

Salt Factory Ice Cream : Ōmishima (Imabari City, Ehime)

Anyone living in Setouchi will have come across “Hakata no shio (Hakata Salt)” at least once!
The Hakata Salt Co. in Ōmishima offers free tours of its factory.
What does this look like?
It’s actually a restored salt making device!
Using the “Ryūka shiki enden (Sloping salt-terrace method)”, seawater flows through bamboo branches called “Shijoka” to create salt. Until about 40 years ago, Shijoka were a common sight lined up along the Setouchi coast. However, a new legal system enforced the use of a production technique called ‘ion-exchange membrane electro dialysis’. Despite “Hakata no Shio” being founded by people who wanted to protect natural salt and the traditional salt making processes, the old-fashioned methods were banned. Though it ultimately made little difference, apparently 50000 signatures were gathered at the time in support of the traditional methodology. Nonetheless, salt made the traditional way can still be purchased at the factory store!
By the way, if you take a factory tour, you’ll be given a small packet of salt as a souvenir to take away.
As it contains a few different kinds, you can decide which to use according to the food you’re eating!
When you’re at the factory, you should really try their famous ‘salt soft’ ice cream. You can choose which salt topping you want when ordering. Though it has a faintly salty flavor, the difference becomes clear later when it leaves a refreshing aftertaste with no residual sweetness!
– Factory tour at Hakata no Shio
Address: 32 Utena, Ōmishima-chō, Imabari, Ehime prefecture
TEL: 0897-82-0660
Time: 9:00 – 15:30 (closes at 16:00)
Closed: Yearend (12/28 – 1/7), Obon holiday (8/13 – 8/17), local festival dates, etc.

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