Get off the bright yellow train and walk 15 minutes southwest from the ticket gate of JR Hinose train station and you arrive at a fish market known as ‘Gomi no Ichi’ (five flavor market), which is arranged by Hinose's fishery cooperative.
All the products in the baskets are JPY500. The number of combinations makes you dither, but I decided on the sole fish that is in season right now. Counting them afterwards, believe it or not, there were over 10 pre-prepared fish!
However, at Hinose the seafood everyone is after during February, that reaches its peak around this season is… that's right, oysters.
Usually it takes 2-3 years to cultivate an oyster, but the Hinose oysters' special characteristic is that they are cultivated in one-year circles, which has lead to them also being called as wakagaki ('young oysters'). The waves in the sea surrounded by the Hinose islands are calm, and as the oysters accumulate all the fertile nutrients flowing from the islands, they can apparently be grown within a short time period.
The lines continue on without a break and more and more oysters for frying in their shells are carried on site.
At the BBQ corner, families and couples are huddled together struggling with their oysters. Here and there you can see overflowing smiles (as well as drool) of sublime bliss. And this is the result!
At the market a powerful fisherman's wife will kindly teach you a delicious way to enjoy the fish.
Clam soup, sole fish simmered in soy sauce, and mackerel sashimi along with the fish cake I bought… Needless to say, the dinner for that day was fresh seafood from Hinose.
The next day, having been inspired by the poster of the Oyster cuisine contest winner I saw at the market, I tried making a sweet and sour pork style sauté using Hinose oysters. I was shocked by the rich essence of the oysters that were cooked to a soft texture…
Hinose Oyster festival is held every year in February. After enjoying the fruits of the sea to your fullest, it might be a good idea to use up some of those calories and take a walk by the port!
Gomi no Ichi
Open: 9.00-17.00 (Stores closed after products are sold out)
Closed: Tuesdays (Closed on Wednesday when Tuesday is a public holiday)
Location: 801-4 Hinose, Hinose-cho, Bizen city, Okayama prefecture
Access: Train: 15-minutes walk from JR Hinose station
Car: 10 minutes from Okayama Blue Line's Bizen interchange. Non-tolled parking area available
Umi no Eki Shioji
Closed: Only during the New Year holidays
Location: 801-8 Hinose, Hinose-cho, Bizen city, Okayama prefecture
Arranged on the 1st Sunday of every month. (On the 2nd Sunday only in January.)
Arranged at Gomi no Ichi
Hinose Oyster Festival (Special products, sales of various oysters, frying oysters, oyster opening experience)
Date: Every February
Location: Square nearby Gomi no Ichi
Access: 10 minutes by the free shuttle boat from the wharf in front of JR Hinose train station
Telephone: 0869-64-1832 (Bizen city hall, city sales department)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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