|Centrip Editorial Board

Shirakawa-go's Must-Eat Gourmet: Centrip Japan's Complete Guide to Shirakawa-go

The local cuisine with the gift from the mountains and pure water is distinctive from standard Japanese dishes found in the other areas. Enjoy simple and traditional Japanese taste of the countryside.

Hida Beef

The most famous Japanese beef from the Shirakawa-go and Hida region. Hida’s natural environment and excellent nurturing made it possible to produce the delicious beef possible. Beef's fat marble is like an artwork. It is popular for its delicacy, softness and great flavor. It melts in the mouth. Hida beef won the first prize at the nationwide Japanese beef competition in the past.

Soba

Soba (buckwheat) noodles have been often made in mountainous areas and many restaurants and inns in Shirakawa-go still serve home-made soba. Even in the mountain areas where other crops do not usually grow, buckwheat can. So, you can say soba is unique to Yamazato (mountain town) areas. Grinding home-grown soba with the stone mill on the spot and boiling it to serve gives soba in Shirakawa-go its superb taste and great aroma. The pristine mountain water is another reason the tastes great.

Stone Tofu

Shirakawa-go's Ishi (stone) tofu uses twice as many soybeans to make as regular tofu. This tofu is hard and condensed. It does not break when you cook it in a pot or simmer. Slicing it, dipping in a wasabi soy sauce, and eating it as "sashimi tofu" is a Shirakawa-go way to eat. Tofu is hard, but the texture is smooth like a pudding. Making it as tofu dumplings, or a tofu steak is also popular.

River fish Dishes

Cook and eat the fish in the river which goes through the mountainside. River fish dishes in Shirakawa-go are famous. Grilled Iwana (rockfish) with salt and Iwana bone sake are served in many accommodations. River fish, grown in cisterns using spring water, is popular nowadays. You can eat it fresh on the spot. Because they are so fresh, you can try Iwana(rockfish), Anago(conger eel) and Nijimasu (rainbow trout) as sashimi.

Wild Vegetables

When it comes to traditional local cuisines in the mountain village, a wild vegetable dish is one of them. Savor the seasonal dishes of the mountain. Wild vegetable cuisine is simple and delicate. Try them to feel what it is like to be living in the ancient lifestyles here. Wild vegetables served with udon (Japanese noodles) and soba are delicious, too. Most restaurants serve locally-picked wild vegetables.

Bear Hot Pot

As a valuable protein source, some restaurants in Shirakawa-go serve bear-meat. Shirakawa-go used to be secluded in winter due to heavy snow, and there were no supplies from the outside of the village, causing the area to be often referred to as an “unexplored area." People sometimes ate a bear meat hot pot. This hot pot was originally cooked with thinly sliced bear meat with soy sauce, but nowadays, it is cooked and served with miso which can make the meat less gamey and much easier to eat for tourists.

Tofu

Different from the stone tofu, people make traditional homemade tofu. Whether boiled, baked, or fried, it tastes great. The texture is soft and smooth. It is hand-made and old-fashioned. There is a handmade "fried tofu as well. In Shirakawa-go, there is a pot dish called " Suttate-nabe" in a white-colored soup with the texture of silky soybeans.

Gohei Mochi

Gohei Mochi is a rice dumpling skewer. The rice is cooked until it is half soft, then add miso or walnut sauce. It is a Hida regional dish. In Shirakawa-go, there is Gohei Mochi which is made using only locally grown rice. There are choices of black rice and millet Gohei Mochi, so you can enjoy various kinds of texture and flavors. The roasted aroma of the sauce and chewy feel of the rice are a feast for the senses. Some shops are so popular that people wait in line to get Gohei Mochi.

Pickles Stakes

Pickles Stakes (aka Fried pickles) is one of the major regional foods in the Hida area. The locals had no choice but to eat the pickles during the winter due to severe weather. In order to defrost some frozen pickles, people grill them on the Hoba (magnolia) leaf. That was the beginning of the pickle steak. It’s been evolved since then, pickles are fried with soy sauce or miso, and covered with eggs. Sprinkle bonito crisps, red gingers, Japanese Shichimi (seven flavored) pepper.

Hoba Miso Plate

In Shirakawa-go's home of Hida, you'll find a traditional dish made from homemade miso, green onions, mountain vegetables, mushrooms and meat grilled atop a large hoba leaf. The sweet-smelling grilled miso is paired with white rice, creating a wonderfully rich dish. The hoba leaf itself is used as a dish.

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