Tohoku: Miyagi Prefecture (Sendai)

February 29, 2016 in ❤︎I LOVE JAPAN❤︎ / Japan / Tohoku

After traveling to Iwate Prefecture, my next destination was Miyagi Prefecture.

Going to Sendai from Ninohe by Shinkansen again, which takes about an hour.

Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture, and it is also the largest city in Tohoku area. I have actually been to Sendai before on my birthday in 2013.

Loooove Shinkansen rides. Scenic winter view all the way!

This was the breakfast I had in the morning. It’s just so genius to have plates like that for hotel buffet, makes everything looks ultra gourmet!

Arriving in Sendai. It is all painted white by powdery snow.

I haven’t seen anything like this for a long long time! So much excitement for a Malaysian girl!

After checking in to my hotel, the team and I got on a car to Matsuyama to visit one of the biggest Miso factory.

 

Sendai Miso, Matsuyama

This is the Sendai Miso Shoyu (Johsen) factory, located in Matsuyama, in the northen part of Miyagi Prefecture.

With the good people who brought me here. I was briefly introduced to the making of Sendai miso. How the fermentation can take months and how there are different types of miso throughout different areas in Japan.

Sendai Miso is one of the most famous miso types in Japan, and did you know that the first Sendai Miso factory is built by a samurai at the base of the Sendai Castle way back in 1593!? A samurai!!! He must have really loved miso with all his life.

Sendai miso’s 3 main ingredients are rice, soybean and salt.

While there are many different variety of miso like Saikyo Miso (a sweet-based white miso originated from Kyoto, which I don’t usually like) and Shinshu miso (yellow miso).

Sendai miso remains one of my favorite because it is full-bodied, saltier and super rich in umami. I bought a pack for my daily miso soup and for the first time the danna praised my breakfast cooking lolol.

There’s a “breathing hole” for the miso to continue to ferment, as Sendai Miso is fresh miso.

According to the Sendai Miso spokesperson, miso can hardly go bad. So as long as you place it in the fridge, even if it is past expiry date, you can consume it safely. It’s true. I had a box of miso that was almost a year expired and I still used it, nobody got any tummyache lolol.

Other products they produce include Shoyu, Koji and assorted miso products.

I was escorted to the factory to see how miso is produced there, and I saw this collage of photos. Those are the pictures taken right after the 2011 Earthquake.

Part of the factory was damaged, but now it is back in its perfect shape. One thing I noticed about the people and shops in Tohoku is that, they usually keep and display photos of the aftermath of the disaster. It’s a little heartbreaking to see, but I am very very impressed by the act.

Instead of trying to forget a painful memory, they put it out there as a remembrance and a symbol of good faith, gratitude and positiveness. That the dark times will pass and they always move on, work hard and thrive even better. And be thankful. I am so humbled. It is something I can learn for myself.

Anyway I was treated to a very very simple lunch at the factory canteen.

A Sendai Miso yaki onigiri (heated up) from the convenient store (a collaboration with Johnsen), which cost 102 yen, and a hot, steaming bowl of Sendai Miso soup fresh from the kitchen.

It was the simplest, most belly-warming meal ever. I am viewing life differently now lol. How can a bowl of soup and a rice ball makes such perfect lunch? I have no complaints. T___T.

So, so so so good.

Johsen fresh Sendai Miso is also sold in the departmental stores by weight!!!

If you go to Sendai, don’t forget this must-buy!!

 

Sendai Gyutan

Another most popular and everybody’s favorite specialty of Sendai is the Gyutan (ox tongue).

For dinner, the team and I went to a famous restaurant for Gyutan nearby the Sendai train station.

And ordered soooooo much food.

Sooooo much hahaha.

There’s the Sendai Sasa-kamaboko for grilling (very good!).

Sendai roast beef.

AND THE HEROOOOOO

Glorious, glorious Sendai Gyutan. I immediately sent this picture to the danna much to his envy.

After dinner I still had room for dessert lolol. Mini Cheesie in the belly was obviously very happy with all the Japanese feast and wanted mooooore.

Just a random cafe near our hotel for waffles. If they serve this in KL it would probably be best-in-the-country. No joke.

 

 

Shiogama Fish Market

Woke up extra early because we are going to the fish market!!!! View from hotel room. All the building roof tops were white!

Selfie XD

In a chartered limo heading towards Shiogama fish market, a famous fish market in Miyagi prefecture!

Had to do a short filming for the local TV hahahha acting all super star XD.

Lots of fish whose name I’ve never heard before!!

This is Hoya, known as the Sea Pineapple (or Sea Squirt?!) a Miyagi specialty seafood which even some Japanese have not heard of.

It is a kind of sea…thing?! (Even after Wikipediaing i still have zero idea what it is. It says that it is a type of Ascidiacea, and when I clicked on Ascidiacea, it explains that it is a subphylum Tunicata of sac-like marineinvertebrate filter feeders. Right. I guess I…. give up?)

Anyway. It is served raw with Ponzu. Tasted sweet and slight bitter. Like… ok definitely nothing like pineapple lol.

Snow crabs. GIANT snow crabs. And king crabs. GIANT King crabs. The price ranges from less than RM100 to about RM180 PER PACK??! Isn’t what the restaurants in KL charges for like one leg or something? Hahahha.

Just to give you an idea how huge it is.

That’s minus the body.

It’s so huge it can be the UFO Catcher machine claws and pick me up. Maybe two of me.

Hairy crabssss i love hairy crabs!!!

The stall owner insisted I hold a live one T___T.

Crabs are getting bigger and bigger.

We were so fortunate to meet all the nice stall owners to entertain a gaijin like me who wasn’t gonna buy anything from them.

This very very kind uncle insisted to steam a bunch of crab legs for me. T_____T. Why are they so nice??!?! I wish I could buy something from their stalls but I probably don’t want my luggage to smell like crab at the custom.

Shared my legs (the crab ones) with Yumi. Soooo yummy!

I really love the people in Tohoku.

 

Sendai Roadwork

Well I am not gonna talk about the roadwork but what I saw at construction sides in Sendai.

A sakura flash roadwork light. In pink.

And………….

Hello Kitty roadwork signs. T___T

Hello Kitty holding a rainbow T___T.

Of course it is all genuine Sanrio licensed.

There are also pandas!!!

So yea. Guys. This is Japan for you. Even construction has to be Kawaii.

 

Sendai Omiyage

Bought lots of instant beef stuff for the danna.

And of course my Miyagi Zunda Kitty <3.

 

That’s all for this time!!! Update soon about the rest of my travel <3

 

20 responses to “Tohoku: Miyagi Prefecture (Sendai)”

  1. Cee says:

    That marbling on the roast beef inside out 😳 I want.

  2. anivyl says:

    XD I am planning to go to Morioka, Iwate in August, dropping by sendai. You know that Tohoku’s kokeshi dolls are the best? I wonder if they sell any at the train station itself… Can’t drive so don’t think i can go see the various places famed for their kokeshi dolls production

    • cheesie says:

      Yes Kokeshi is famous in Tohoku!!! I didn’t have too much time to explore Kokeshi dolls 🙁 Hope you get to find a good one!! ^^

  3. Namigoori says:

    I was hoping to og to Tohoku this summer but due to finances and shortage of time I have to wait until next year T_T I really wanted to do a whole month in the Whole of Tohoku lol I especially want to visit the Sanriku coast.
    And sure miso is very “durable” – I once had a packet for three years (!) still as great as the day it was opened lol XD
    And omg I want that kegani! It’s by far my favourite kind of crab (and it’s so cute too =^.^=)

    • cheesie says:

      Nevermind!!!! Japan will always wait for you!!! THREE YEARS. Ok you are officially more hardcore than me XD
      Kegani is my fav too. The Kani misooooooo!!!!!!!!!

  4. Freya says:

    I love your Japan posts so much! I go to Japan as often as I can and they give me great ideas for what to do when I go next 🙂 I think your support for Tohoku is so heartwarming, and I am planning a trip there next time I’m in Japan. Please keep it up! xx

  5. Vangie Tay says:

    Dear Cheese,

    I started to follow you on Instagram. As O pregnant with a baby boy 6.5mths and the father is a Japanese. I find your pictures very facinating and there are something I can relate to.
    I only have a question which is, why isn’t your Jun Jun a Japanese natitonality but Malaysian instead? Just thought to find out the pros n cons of being a Japanese nationality.

    Thank you so much.
    Regards,
    Vangie

  6. Yuene says:

    Haha OMG I ate hoya as well! My friends and I ate it in South Korea, and they served it to us with one of its appendages still intact, which was rubbery and resembled a turtleneck sweater. I told my friends “I don’t think we can eat that… It looks like it’s its asshole” but they insisted it was its head, and tried anyway. Obviously, they couldn’t chew through it

    • cheesie says:

      Looks like asshole LOLOL. You are supposed to cut it open and eat only the inside!!!! …… did you? @.@

      • Yuene says:

        LOL No, they chewed the whole thing (I refused to eat it for afore-mentioned reasons). They gave up after a while!

  7. Normi says:

    I’ve been following your blog since 6 years ago and this is my first comment. Hihi. I wish I have passion like you, writing and updating blog constantly! How you do it with a little child and all. I don’t have kid and yet.. I’m struggling. urgghhh.

  8. Serena says:

    I just went Sendai yesterday (6 March)!
    Surprise only 2 months apart but snow all melted…. Wonder is there any other sendai that you went!
    But no more snow like your post…. sobs. However tried all seafood and gyutan! So yummy!
    Between I’m so felt in love to Japan!~~~~

  9. Huai Bin says:

    Very interesting! That’s about the same price we saw in Hokkaido also, the crab legs were around that. There were also selling whole crab for 12,000 yen which I thought was quite cheap coz I had it for A LOT MORE in Korea.

    We had snow crab, hairy crab and king crab in Japan and I loved the sashimi version more than the boiled ones. It tasted very creamy, kind of like sweet ebi creamy or scallops creamy. Nice mouth feel too.

    I read that crabs are getting bigger and bigger (and also cheaper) coz the oceans are getting warmer due to global warming, which makes them spawn faster and mate younger. That applies to lobsters too. I’m not sure if I’m getting the two mixed up but that was the reason stated in the documentary anyway.

    The interesting thing I noticed is that they have bags of sand (or crab shells in Otaru) which you spread on the ground so you don’t slip and fall in the snow and ice. I thought that was pretty cool and it’s always stocked up on every street corner. <3

    • cheesie says:

      Haven’t heard from you for so long!!!! Thanks for your comment!! Really? I thought the sashimi version was kinda chewy and fibery!! Haha. Waaa i didn’t know about the sand! Must go check it out!! Anyway so glad that you enjoyed yourself in Japan!

      • Huai Bin says:

        Yeah, it’s been ages eh?

        I guess I just love sashimi coz I like the natural raw “sweetness” of seafood. My better half doesn’t get it and I never grew up eating this so I don’t know where I picked up the taste from. We went to a 1 Michelin Star sushi place in Otaru and I was glad she enjoyed most of the items but some things she found to be chewy too.

        The sand is the kind the put at traffic lights (just beside it) with a sign that says “Please use this to spread on the snow/ice so you don’t slip” (or so Google translate tells me). It’s sand in Sapporo but shells in Otaru.

        I miss Japan so much, I did think of you while I was there, wanted to Show My Flag (TM) but realized the feature isn’t there anymore.

        Japan is so awesome, the culture is different and I wish I had known about how amazing Japan is so I could have come earlier instead of going to Europe several times within several months.

        I’ve been reading your posts about your life in Japan and it makes me want to live in Japan too! I want to be a part of this cool and exclusive club!!!!111 T_T

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