Mie’s Food Culture

The origin of Japanese food culture

With its temperate climate as well as fertile plains and oceans teeming with life, Ise is known as Umashikuni, a magnificent land blessed with the bounties of the sea and mountains. Befitting this name, the area is home to a distinct Japanese change of seasons and has inherited culinary traditions to savor seasonal ingredients nurtured amid beautiful local surroundings. This tradition is nothing but the very origin of Japanese food culture.

The Inherited Spirit of Miketsu-Kuni

Facing the bountiful ocean, Shima has historically provided offerings of marine products to Jingu and the Imperial Court, earning it the title of “Miketsukuni,” land of divine offerings. Since that time, city dwellers have savored abalone, turban shells, and other seafood, promoting the development of Japan’s rich food culture. The local people too have protected the natural environment, ensuring that its blessings continue to be handed down through the ages. The spirit underlying this relationship with Shima’s nature remains deeply rooted in this region to this day.

Ama Culture: Coexisting with Nature

The ama are female divers who collect abalone, turban shells, seaweed, and other seafood without the use of modern diving equipment. Wooden mokkan tablets archiving offerings to the former capital in Nara clearly indicate hauls of abalone were shipped from present-day Nakiri, Shima as far back as 745 AD, verifying the presence of a thriving ama fishing culture since ancient times. The ama community in the Toba- Shima region have worked to protect the ocean’s resources by establishing a host of rules governing, among other things, the fishing season and size of the fish they catch. A culture of protecting and coexisting with nature is alive to this day in the very same community.