For Your Kyushu Souvenirs! Top 5 Picks at Nagasaki Foods and Crafts Fair
“Furusato Bussan Matsuri (Hometown Food and Craft Products Fair)” is a popular event to exhibit and sell goods that are produced in limited quantity on remote islands and other local areas in Nagasaki Prefecture. This year saw its 32nd event, and I saw a great many people gathered at the venue.
It is popular because there is a full line-up of products of remote islands that are usually unobtainable and you can taste all their samples. A selling point of this festival is to be able to hear about product features from the store staff while tasting the samples.
In addition if you purchase 5000 yen or more, you can participate in a raffle for Nagasaki products, too. Visitors can not only buy products but also enjoy the event itself.
This time I would like to let you know about 5 popular products that were featured at this “Furusato Bussan Matsuri” in Nagasaki.
1. “Tsubaki-Abura (Camellia Oil)”, a Traditional Cosmetic in Japan
“Tsubaki-abura” is a type of vegetable oil extracted from camellia fruits of the trees that grew wild and pesticide-free in the mountains.
Tsubaki-abura is a traditional cosmetic in Japan that every Japanese woman used in the old days. However it became rather obsolete among young women once production of western cosmetics started, and it is rarely used nowadays other than fixing the hair of Sumo wrestlers. But beneficial effects of camellia oil have garnered attention in recent years and even leading cosmetics makers started manufacturing products that contain tsubaki-abura.
This is pure camellia oil squeezed directly from camellia fruits, a Nagasaki specialty product. This tsubaki-abura gives moisture to your hair and skin with the effect of its principal component, natural oleic acid. Its shelf life is one year at room temperature, and it is ideal for a souvenir from Japan.
2. “Azuma-Miso”, Low-Salt and Handmade Miso
Azuma-miso is produced in a town called Azuma-cho in Shimabara City. I love this miso too and have been using it myself. I feel I don’t get tired of it because of its pristine, handmade taste.
This entire product is handmade by mothers in farming families, faithfully following the traditional production method one by one. Raw materials are all domestic or Nagasaki products and being carefully finished without using any additives you can eat it with confidence in the quality.
There are 3 varieties of miso in total, and the product in the photo is called “Azuma Mugi Ten’en Miso”. This miso is made with domestically produced wheat, soybeans, and natural salt, and it has a mellow taste with low salt content. Maybe because it contains less salt, it is faintly sweet and miso soup prepared with it is delicious even when it is cold.
3. “Uchihamono”, Traditional Cutlery in Nagasaki
There were many different cutlery on display that were made to suit for specific use, including hoes to plow the earth (upper left in the photo), pruning shears for care of bonsai and other trees (upper right) , common kitchen knives (lower left) and sickles to weed and reap.
Cutlery produced in Matsubara has a history spanning 500 years and it is designated as a traditional craft of Nagasaki Prefecture. It is characterized by double-edged black blades, natural color in unpolished finish and its awesome sharpness. Though it depends on the type of knife, another characteristic is in its thinner spine (the opposite side of the knife edge) compared to knives produced in other areas.
How about a highest-quality knife made in Japan for you?
4. “Agodashi” for Soup Stock and “Jingoro Fushi” Noodle
Agodashi is soup stock base made with dried flying fish. In Kyusyu flying fish are called “ago”, and they dry the fish and use it in powder form to prepare soup stock for various Japanese cuisine including udon noodle and pot dishes. Flavor of agodashi stock is deeper and more luxurious compared to stock made with kelp or bonito flakes, and it is considered a high-end product among stock base. This agodashi is ideal for noodle dishes and it was sold together with a product named “Jingoro Fushi” which contained somen (angel hair noodle) and udon noodle.
Both agodashi and Jingoro Fushi are dry products and perfect for souvenirs. The merchandize includes cooking instructions, albeit in Japanese, so you can try it as a reference.
“Kamaboko” is a processed food made by pureeing and curing light-colored fish meat, and local people of Nagasaki have loved it since ancient times as a side dish, snack or celebratory food for New Year.
This Tofu-kamaboko consists of 70% firm tofu and 30% pureed fish meat, and carrot and wakame seaweed stalks are added to enhance the texture. It’s a traditional taste passed along over 100 years in the Shimabara region.
Both tofu and fish meat contains high-quality protein and vegetable is added to it, resulting in a health-conscious and low-calorie food. I recommend this for people on a diet, too.
When you go to supermarkets in Japan you can find products similar to what I have introduced today, and some of them are considerably less expensive. But the products sold at this Furusato Bussan Matsuri are superior in many ways, as all of them were made with quality materials and local craftsmen in Nagasaki cordially produced them thinking about people who would use or eat their products.
As product festivals featuring Nagasaki such as this one are also held in major cities including Tokyo and Osaka, please drop by and take a look at them. Of course the best way is to travel to Nagasaki and judge products in their home. See you at the festival next year!
<Furusato Bussan Matsuri>
Event Venue: Chuo Koen park (Nigiwai-machi Nagasaki City), Map
Date & Time: November 23 through 28, 2016 (6 days), 10 AM to 5 PM (Ends at 4 PM on the final day)