Chichibu, located in the northwestern part of Saitama Prefecture, is a tourist destination that has been attracting attention in recent years. The live-action film The Anthem of the Heart as well as the anime Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (Also known as Anohana) has made Chichibu well known as a sacred place, and it is in the midst of a surge in popularity.
Located in the prefecture next to Tokyo, it takes less than two hours by train from downtown Tokyo to the Seibu Chichibu Station, Chichibu. The easy access from the city center is one of the reasons for the popularity of this spot as a travel destination.
Chichibu is packed with many attractions, such as rich nature and delicious gourmet unique to the land. That is why we would like to introduce three local gourmets that should be tried when visiting Chichibu. The stone-grilled venison dish is a well-established specialty that has been featured many times in the media, as well as the shaved ice with natural honey are both a must try.
1. Yasudaya: The excitement of the ‘Waraji’ Pork cutlet
When speaking of Chichibu's local gourmet, the first dish that is mentioned is the ‘Waraji’ pork cutlet. Yasudaya is the birthplace of the Waraji Pork cutlet and is approximately a 15-minute walk from Seibu Chichibu Station. Yasudaya is a well-established store that has stood for over 100 years. It is said that ‘Waraji’ pork cutlet was made using original recipes long before it became famous as a local gourmet for Chichibu.
There are counter seats and small tables in the store. Customers line up even before the store opens, and when it does open it's so popular that seats fill in no time. It has been featured numerous times in the media.
This is the original ‘Waraji’ pork cutlet two piece 1,080 yen (tax included). The size of the dish and the scent of the ‘Waraji’ pork, makes it difficult to close the lid.
According to the owner of the shop, “The recipe probably came from the time when the foreign style of eating cutlets came in. So, unlike other pork bowls we do not use eggs.” It seems that this was the original style of pork bowls when the dish first came to Japan.
Two cutlets placed on the rice will fill your heart with joy!
When Yasudaya was founded, it was in a time when cars were not so abundant. Travelers would come in on foot to eat rice to fill their stomachs and stay the night. Among them, customers would eat one delicious cutlet with rice, and as they drank liquor would ask for another cutlet. That is why now the dish is prepared with two cutlets at the same time.
In fact, this style is the reason why the name ‘Waraji’ pork cutlet was born.
At the time there was no word for this local gourmet. A newspaper reporter who visited for coverage looked at the two cutlet pieces and said "It looks like Waraji!" Waraji refers to footwear made of straw that is tied to the foot with a string. The dished was associated to the sandals due to its similar appearance. Since it was referred to as waraji, the name stuck, and in recent years it has been called the ‘Waraji pork cutlet.’
The cutlet uses the fillet, a rare part of pork. Nowadays, the number of shops offering ‘Waraji pork cutlets’ are increasing, and seasonings are changing in various ways, but the taste of "Yasudaya" is where the ‘Waraji pork cutlet’ originated! Please enjoy the taste of this long-established store on your visit.
YASUDAYA HINODATEN安田屋 日野田店
- Address Saitama Prefecture, Chichibu-shi, Hinodacho, 1 chome 6-9
- Phone Number 0494-24-3188
Closed: Mondays (Open for holidays, closed the day after)
2. Kinoko-no-sato Suzukaen: Stone-grilled dishes
The next local gourmet of Chichibu, to be introduced is the “Ishiki stone grilled dishes”. One of the places where you can enjoy this is at the Kinoko-no-sato Suzukaen, which was launched as a tourist farm in 1954. It is a restaurant where you can enjoy stone-grilled dishes from the Chichibu district, with river fish, and shiitake mushroom skewers.
To get there it takes about 15 minutes by train from the Seibu Railway-Ohanabata Station located near the Seibu Chichibu Station. Get off at Wushu Hino Station and walk about 20 minutes on foot. You will see the Japanese-style house appear in the middle of great nature surrounded by mountains and the clear streams.
When you step into the store, there is a heartwarming scent in the spacious area. In the seating area, stone pots are lined up in a row, the sight is a masterpiece!
Ishiki stone-grilled dishes, as the name implies, are dishes that are grilled on stones and eaten. In the old days people of Okuchichibu mainly lived in the mountains, and the typical dish of those people (Lumberjacks) were stone-grilled. Now it is popular as Chichibu's local cuisine.
Stone dishes are made of natural stones (sandstone) and are heated with an open fire, where mountain vegetables, mushrooms, wild game, etc., are grilled with green onions and miso paste. To start, first place the back fat of a boar, and use the grease to cook the other ingredients on it.
A particularly recommended menu option is the “Ledger Course” where one can eat three kinds of game, boar meat, venison, and chicken, 3,240 yen (tax included). The set includes the three kinds of meats, mushrooms, assorted of vegetables, appetizers, a famous mushroom dish, mushroom soup, as well as fresh incense that is sure to satisfy.
Ingredients are arranged on the hot stone. Without using oil or smoke no items will burn and it is this feature of stone cooking that allows you to taste the true flavor of the ingredients. The platter is full of vegetables, and mushrooms such as home-grown shiitake mushrooms, maiko mushrooms, and enoki mushrooms!
As the wild vegetables that can be collected change with the season, it is one of the attractions of Chichibu since you can enjoy the taste of each season. The taste of the vegetables comes out better if you add the sauce and cook.
Grilled meat is served with home-made garlic, soy sauce flavored pickles, miso sauce, and salt. The photo shows the fresh deer that was hunted in the morning on the interview day. The recommended way of eating this dish includes eating an entire garlic clove with miso sauce.
A campsite is attached to Suzukaen, so you can also enjoy camping except for in the winter season. Please enjoy the meat and vegetables found in the Chichibu wilderness.
Kinoko-no-sato Suzukaenきのこの里 鈴加園
- Address Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, Arakawa, Onohara 178
- Phone Number 0494-54-1234
Hours: 10:30-18:00 (L.O. 17:00)
Closed: Tuesday (Open for public holidays)
3. Asamireizo Kanazakiten: Natural shaved ice
One of the most popular gourmet treats in Chichibu is their natural shaved ice. Natural ice refers to ice that has been slowly cooled by natural cooling methods by drawing good quality water such as spring water into a pond built in naturally cold areas such as mountains.
A store where you can eat this exquisite shaved ice made with natural ice is the natural ice storehouse “Asami-Reizo” founded in 1887. It takes about 20 minutes by train from the Seibu Railway / Ohanabata Station near the Seibu Chichibu Station. Get off at Kaminagasu Station, and it’s a 3-minute walk from there.
Seats are prepared both outdoors and indoors, so you can enjoy the shaved ice slowly in a space full of rich greenery and Japanese style.
This is the signature dish, the ‘Kuramoto secret shaved ice’1,200 yen (tax included). They take honey which is boiled with natural water and Wasanbon sugar for a natural syrup. It is evident that honey that does overpower the deliciousness of the natural ice of Asamireizo Kanazakiten. For toppings, you can choose either white bean paste / adzuki bean paste / or green tea bean paste. All are served with black honey.
All the syrup is served separately from the shaved ice of at ‘Asamireizo Kanazakiten.’ This allows you to pour the syrup on by yourself. You can eat with your favorite amount of syrup for taste, while also being able to enjoy natural ice itself.
"Green tea adzuki with black honey" 1,300 yen (tax included) is one of the more popular menu items that is ordered by foreigners. Green tea syrup, adzuki beans and black honey are all served separately. The natural ice has the look of a snowball made of powdered snow, and has a unique attraction.
Pour the green tea syrup on and enjoy watching the look change. There are several types of syrups, such as strawberry, melon, white peach, grape, orange, as well as their secret honey, and green tea. Because everything is made additive-free and uncolored, the syrup also has a natural texture.
When you raise the spoon, it feels light and fluffy and melts in your mouth. You can enjoy the taste of natural ice itself, or change up the flavor by adding green tea syrup, adzuki, or black honey. Time will slip away as you become addicted to shaved ice.
This natural shaved ice is made with natural ice formed in the nature of Chichibu and Nagamine and is a wonderful gourmet of the Chichibu area.
Written by: Naho Jishikyu
ASAMIREIZO KANAZAKITEN阿左美冷蔵 金崎店
- Address 27-1 Kananozaki, Minano-cho, Chichibu-gun, Saitama Prefecture
Closed: Thursday (Open daily in summer)
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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