The city of Hinase in Bizen, Okayama prefecture is the perfect place to visit for oyster lovers. Here, you not only get to eat oysters (and lots of other seafood) in all different ways, but you also get to take a look at how our edible oysters are produced. Though oyster restaurants and menus are found all over the world, it’s not as common to able to enjoy them right next to the waters where they are produced, and to take a look at the entire process.
From the quiet station of Hinase, I took a stroll down through narrow bayside streets, following the signs for Gomi no Ichi (五味の市). Don’t get this word gomi mixed up with garbage! It means “five flavors” or rather, all the different flavors you can enjoy from sweet to salty. This harbor has a large fish market, many food stalls, and even barbecuing pits with all the materials and ingredients ready for you to use.
Along the 15-20 minute leisure walk to get there, you get a good sense of what this city is like; it’s a quaint fishing town where the citizens are one with the sea. Sidewalks are decorated with tiles of sea creature paintings, fishing boats are anchored right next to homes, and the harbor is covered with empty oyster shells all neatly tied up together. Before even getting to the Gomi no Ichi, you’ll come across many family-owned restaurants advertising the greatest oyster dishes and seafood.
Things you should try in Hinase…oysters and what else?
I visited on a sunny November afternoon, a bit too early in the season to enjoy slurps of raw or barbequed oysters. Though it was a national holiday, the fish market was much emptier than how it would be on the weekends. Perhaps many of the fishermen decided to take the day off, too. But the market’s parking lot was filled with visitors’ cars from near and far, and the barbeque pits were festive with happy, hungry or full folks grilling fish, vegetables, and meat at their own will. If you’re not in the mood to grill up something of your own, look for signs advertising kakioko (カキオコ), oyster okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) famous to Setouchi. The chefs will cook one right up in front of you, fresh on a hot plate. But there is another dish I would recommend you try, if you’re (supposedly) a brave soul and foodie like me…
Inside the market, I headed straight for the stall with the unique dessert: fried oyster soft serve ice cream (kaki furai soft カキフライソフト). Okay, you have to hear me out before you judge how it tastes by how it sounds (or looks in the photo). First of all, the vanilla ice cream on this ¥300 dessert was probably one of the creamiest, freshest ice creams I’ve ever tasted. It uses Hokkaido dairy that tastes fresh and rich. The two fried oysters are placed one on each side of the cone and drizzled with sweet soy sauce. The sauce tastes like a creamier version of regular soy sauce without the saltiness overpowering the ice cream. I ate the fried oysters by hand while dipping its fried outside in the ice cream. This may not become my choice of dessert every day, but for a lover and the sweet-and-savory mixtures, this was one of the ultimate dishes to try that I won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world.
This was my pre-lunch snack, by the way. As I finished up looking around the market and devouring my ice cream, I headed back down the quiet roads to a seafood restaurant down the road called Iso (磯). Inside of the restaurant looked like a cozy and inviting mom and pop shop. Large families and cute couples filled the place with their laughter and rosey cheeks from alcohol and fresh seafood on the grill. Hinase is not only famous for their oysters, but also for eel. For a mere ¥1500 I got a huge lunch plate with sashimi, shrimp, vegetables, crab miso soup, rice, and a whole deep fried eel. The service was so quick but the food so fresh, I could imagine the chefs walking right across the street themselves to fish up the ingredients. If oysters don’t sound as appealing to you, try an eel dish either in the similar deep fried form, grilled form, or a donburi rice bowl with grilled eel and sweet eel sauce (yum!).
Check out the Oyster Farming from the Bizen Hinase Bridge!
After a full lunch, I switched gears back to my attention on the oyster farming that takes place in Hinase. A stroll back towards the train station brings you by the ferry terminal and a long and new suspension bridge across the Hinase Bay. This is the Bizen Hinase Oohashi indicated on road signs and Google Maps with an actual heart symbol: 備前♡日生大橋. This bridge, technically not open for access on foot, as there are no sidewalks, leads across the bay to Kakui Island. Below the bridge lies a unique and beautiful view of oysters farms, called ikada in Japanese. I braved my chances with my large backpack and camera in hand, to carefully walk across this bridge to take a look. At the midway point of this 765 meter long bridge, there is a little outlet where vehicles can stop to enjoy the same view careful pedestrians could.
On the walk back on the bridge, I noticed more oyster shell-like figurines under water. As I was looking at these, an elderly man with a face full of his smile greeted me from across the road, then walked over to chat with me. A local taking a careful stroll across the bridge himself, he told me about the process of producing the oysters we see out in the bay. These vertical oysters below at the entrance of the bridge are in the production stage before they are taken out further in sea to the actual farming grounds. It’ll be another few weeks, even a month or two, before the best season for oysters begin. As the locals and oyster lovers know, the best months for oysters are the coldest months of the year. Come winter, Hinase will be filled with foodies flocking for fresh oysters. Once february arrives, the city will be vibrant with the annual Oyster Festival.
801-4 Hinase cho, Hinase, Bizen-city, Okayama prefecture 〒701-3204
How to get to Hinase
By train – Take the Ako line to Hinase station. Taxis available right outside of the station if needed.
By bus – The Bizen City Bus (van) runs through Hinase. Each ride is ¥200. Check the schedule here (Japanese only).
Give us your Like
Nina is a professional and recreational writer currently exploring her motherland of Japan. When she's not busy working on her upcoming conversational English book, she can be spotted biking around Tokyo to indulge in delicious food and attempting to snuggle with kitties at cat cafés. She's an odd collector of free brochures from travel counters, always looking for the next exciting destination. Nina often likes to escape the Tokyo city life to go discover new trails on the outbacks of Japan, where she enjoys connecting with locals and wanderers alike.
> Speaking of Setouchi, the must-eat item is seafood! – A selection of 7 spots where you can try fresh seafood.
> A selection of 7 cafes and restaurants in Setouchi with superb scenery and views of the sea.
> A tranquil garden full of Japanese beauty and a huge carpet of green moss. / Gallery Teahouse Kokemushiro (Seiyo-shi, Ehime)
> 3 places for barhopping in Yokogawawhich carefully selected by a “hard-drinking” writer / Nice Yukari, Gohan-ya Haru-chan, and Trois Copain
> Please fully enjoy local sake brewed in Tokushima at the shop where you can “buy and drink.” / Taro Saketen (Tokushima-shi, Tokushima)
> A century-old Japanese house which an Onomichi merchant used as a villa has been renovated for accommodation. / The house rental “Kujira Bekkan” (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> An inn where you can find “ordinary Kobe” / Guesthouse MAYA (Kobe-shi, Hyogo)
> This could be the best choice for your stay in Awajishima! How about having a family trip while staying at a hot spring resort where you can get a great ocean view? / Hotel New Awaji Group (Sumoto-shi, Hyogo)
> Come and see, rail fans! A new base for a circular sightseeing tour in Shikoku, which is produced by JR SHIKOKU./ 4S STAY Awaikeda Sta.(Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima)
> Books, a bar, and international exchange!? 3 selections of hotel and guesthouses which have attractive little perks in the center of Hiroshima / (KIRO Hiroshima -THE SHARE HOTELS-, EN HIROSHIMA, and 36HOSTEL)
> Visit historic spots in the city center of Hiroshima on foot and learn about the history of peace (Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima)
> This is the ultimate soothing trip – feel the sense and the heart of Japan in Uchiko Town and Ozu City in Ehime.
> Beauty exists in every detailed corner of your eyesight! 8 spots where you can see wonderful views of Setouchi and its beautiful islands.
> Visiting the well-known “power spots” where mystical energy flows! This northern drive route visits temples, shrines, and cultural heritage sites in Tottori, Shimane, and Yamaguchi
> A continual stream of natural beauty which will make your heart tremble! The eastern drive route covers the best viewing spots in Okayama, Hyogo, and Tokushima
> Let’s enjoy a liberating new Setouchi voyage by “SEA SPICA”!
> The last report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.5. STU48 members attended the launching ceremony. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.4. STU48 members paint the ship’s logo! / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the merging of the superstructure and the base of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi Vol.3 by members of STU48 / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi. Vol.2 shows you the “Reversal Procedure” where the ship is turned over. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> Shimanami Kaido - Cyclist's Paradise
> Onomichi U2 and the Giant Store – the perfect partners for enjoying the Shimanami Kaidō
> Eating, Cycling & Getting Warm : Akiyoshidai Karst Road (Mine City, Yamaguchi Prefecture)
> Kasaoka Island Hopping by Bike : A perfect 2-day trip! (Okayama)
> A Rare Lighthouse & Spelunking!? Traversing Ogijima by Bicycle! (Ogi, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture)
> “ONOMARU SHOUTEN” is the shop which has all of Onomichi’s fascinations. / JR Onomichi Ekisha (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> Kobe Shopping: 3 Distinct Local Brands to Bring Home（Kobe, Hyogo）【PR】
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
> “Meika Shitatsuzumi, ”a Japanese sweet from Yamaguchi which is soft, pleasant and melty on your tongue / San-in-do (Yamaguchi-shi, Yamaguchi)
> Let’s enjoy taking a walk down the shopping street near Matsuyama Castle./Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping Street (Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture)
See more articles about "Gourmet"GourmetList
Kobe City Himeji City Amagasaki City Akashi City Nishinomiya City Sumoto City Ashiya City Itami City Aioi City Toyooka City Kakogawa City Ako City Nishiwaki City Takarazuka City Miki City Takasago City Kawanishi City Ono City Mita City Kasai City Sasayama City Yabu City Tanba City Minamiawaji City Asago City Awaji City Shiso City Kato City Tatsuno City Inagawa Taka Inami Harima Ichikawa Fukusaki Kamikawa Taishi Kamigori Sayo Kami Shinonsen
- Okayama Pref.
- Hiroshima Pref.
- Yamaguchi Pref.
- Tokushima Pref.
- Kagawa Pref.
- Ehime Pref.