2020 NO.28

Tokyo: The Ultimate Gourmet Experience


Surprisingly Diverse Produce Grown in Tokyo

The heart of Tokyo is composed predominantly of bustling business districts, but in fact, the Tokyo metropolitan area is also famous for producing a variety of agricultural and marine products. This article highlights the diverse lineup of Tokyo specialty products, from traditional vegetables that date back to the Edo period (17th—19th century) to fruits grown on the outlying islands in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo.

Photos: Tokyo Development Foundation for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, PIXTA

奥多摩町 練馬区 新宿区 荒川区 江戸川区 東京湾 東京湾内の沿岸 小笠原諸島 伊豆諸島 あきる野市、日野市など

①Okutama wasabi
(Producing region: Okutama Town)

Wasabi (Japanese horseradish) is one of Japan’s best-known condiments. Its unique pungent taste makes it the perfect condiment for sashimi and sushi, soba noodles, and many other dishes. A mountainous region blessed with numerous clean cool springs, Okutama has historically been known as a major wasabi producing area.

②Nerima daikon
(Producing region: Nerima City)

Daikon is a root vegetable that is widely used in traditional Japanese simmered and pickled dishes. The Nerima daikon is larger than other varieties, and its white root portion reaches up 80-100cm in length.

②④Waseda myoga
(Japanese ginger)
(Producing region: Shinjuku City, Nerima City)

Distinguished by its crunchy texture and crisp, fresh flavor, this condiment vegetable was named after Waseda Village, which was known for its myoga production.

Photo courtesy of Otake Michishige

③Yanaka ginger
(Producing region: Arakawa City)

Yanaka ginger is a leaf ginger that was first cultivated during the Edo period. Its soft root and stem are commonly eaten raw with miso paste. Distinguished by its fresh spicy aroma and crisp texture free from stringy fiber, Yanaka ginger is a beloved summer specialty.

(Japanese mustard spinach)
(Producing region: Edogawa City)

Komatsuna is a leaf vegetable rich in various nutrients, such as vitamins, carotene, and calcium. It is usually prepared by boiling or stir-frying. According to an old story, a feudal lord of the Edo Shogunate was pleased with the taste of a leaf vegetable he was served at the Komatsugawa Village (present-day Edogawa City), and named it “Komatsuna” after the area.

Anago (salt-water eel)
(Producing region: Tokyo Bay)

Very similar in shape to unagi (freshwater eel), anago is salt-water eel, and to this day Tokyo Bay remains its main fishing ground. Anago makes its way into the local cuisine in tempura, simmered dishes, sushi, and more.

Asari clams
(Producing region: the coastline of Tokyo Bay)

Asari clams are approximately 4cm-large bivalves rich in taurine, an amino acid known to lower high blood pressure. Clam-digging on the shores of Tokyo Bay was one of the most popular pastimes for ordinary people during the Edo period.

⑧⑨Passion fruit
(Producing region: Ogasawara Village, Hachijo Town, etc.)

Passion fruit is distinguished by a sweet-sour flavor that makes it the perfect ingredient for preparation of jams and other such condiments. Blessed with a year-round warm climate, Ogasawara Village is famous as one of Japan’s main producers of passion fruit.

(Producing region: Hachijo Town, Miyake Village, etc.)

Abobe: Ashitaba is a leaf vegetable cultivated largely on Tokyo’s outlying islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is rich in vitamins, carotene, iron, and other nutrients, making it a popular medicinal plant.
Below: Ashitaba field in Hachijojima Island.

(Producing region: Akiruno City, Hino City, etc.)

Since Japanese people tend to eat tomato raw, the major varieties of tomatoes grown in Japan are distinguished by low acidity and sweet flavor. Tokyo is known as one of the producing regions of high-quality brand tomatoes valued for their high sugar content and rich taste.