New Kindai-Horioka Torafugu (tiger blowfish) Products

Originally written for the Vol.4-No.4 edition (February 25, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

Since 2005, Kinki University and Horioka Fisheries Cooperative has been raising torafugu using cold, fresh water pumped out from deep in Toyama Bay.  After three years, the torafugu grew to a foot long and two to three pounds.  Also noteworthy is that researchers succeeded in increasing the breeding of the highly prized roe-bearing males to fifty to eighty percent higher than normal.

A surprising variety of torafugu products are currently available.

Recently, the “Tora-cola” drink has gone on sale.  A key ingredient is collagen extracted from the torafugu.  The drink has no preservatives, is low in calories, and is good for the skin.

Also on sale is a nabe (pot) package, which includes a variety of torafugu products such as sashimi, fillet, fin, and ponzu (a citrus-based sauce).

Since last spring, visitors have driven from afar to the City of Imizu to try the torafugu sweets.  These unique mochi snacks come in different flavors, such as sweet red bean paste and custard.

Other torafugu products currently being developed include instant rice gruel and madeleine cakes.

Through these products, Horioka Fisheries hope to popularize Kindai-Horioka torafugu throughout Japan.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now

Official “Toyama Brand” Endorsements Announced!

Originally written for the Vol.4-No.4 edition (February 25, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

Forty-eight people were awarded certificates for the eleven items selected as representative of Toyama Prefecture’s “Toyama Brand.”

The “Prefecture-Endorsed Toyama Brand” was established this year to carefully select items manufactured or produced in Toyama Prefecture, so that they can be publicized to increase awareness and raise the public image of Toyama.

These were chosen out of 120 submissions, and were rigorously judged by experts and committee members on quality/authenticity, originality, “Toyama-ness,” marketability, and promise.

The seven selected items from the agricultural and fishery category are:

Masu-zushi (pressed trout sushi) has been important since the Edo Period, and is famous throughout Japan.
Toyama tulips are the top-producing tulips in the country.
Toyama hoshi-gaki (dried persimmons) are high-quality and have been produced in the Nanto region for over three hundred years.
O-kado somen (cold noodles) is hand-made using traditional methods.
Toyama Bay buri (yellowtail), caught between November and March, are well-regarded for their quality and freshness.
Toyama Bay shiro-ebi (white shrimp), caught between April and November, are called “The Jewel of Toyama Bay” with its pale pink color.
Toyama Bay hotaru-ika (firefly squid) are a sign of spring in Toyama, and are caught while migrating for breeding season.

The four selected items from the manufactured items category are:

“Paro” the therapeutic robot is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first of its kind, and is expected to be in high demand.
Water jet machines are devices that emits high-pressure water for cutting, cleaning, and manufacturing, and is used for industries such as the automobile, food, and airplane industries.
Inami wood carvings are an applied fine art.  Over two hundred chisels are used in traditional techniques.
Takaoka copperware has an over four hundred-year history, and is used in a large variety of items including flower vases, Buddhist alter pieces, temple bells, and bronze statues.

In addition, six items were chosen for the “Tomorrow’s Toyama” initiative, to support ambitious local projects.  These are: artisan kamaboko (fish cakes), Toyama Koshi-hikari rice, Kindai-Horioka torafugu (tiger blowfish) (see feature below), Nyuzen deep-water abalone, Nousaku tin ware, and AQUARIUMU (aluminum shoehorns).

The products selected for the “Toyama Brand” will serve to symbolize the richness of resources borne among the grand scenery of Toyama Prefecture.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now

The 2011 Toyama Glass and Sake Fair

Originally written for the Vol.4-No.3 edition (February 10, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The Toyama Glass and Sake Fair, which started on January 4th and will
continue to run through March 31st, is a collaboration between
Toyama’s local sake industry and glass artists.

Among many activities and events, there will be opportunities to try
your hand at glass-blowing your own original sake cup, and receive a
limited-edition bottle of sake. For those preferring to purchase a
sake cup, there will be an exhibition and sale of different varieties
of glass sake cups from March 4th to the 27th.

On March 19th and 20th, all eighteen local sake brewers of Toyama will
convene and introduce new sakes. In this once-a-year event, over
sixty types of sake will be available to enjoy. There will even be
sake sweets for sale and a glass plate competition by glass art

This celebration of Toyama’s glass art combined with local sake is a
very unique and special way for the prefecture to introduce its appeal
to people outside of Toyama.

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now

Enjoy the Snow Events of Toyama!

Originally written for the Vol.4-No.3 edition (February 10, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

The cold, long winter continues in Toyama, but all around the
prefecture, there are a variety of ways to enjoy the winter and the

In Nanto City, World Heritage Site Suganuma Gassho-zukuri Village in
Gokayama was specially open at night so that visitors could see the
village lit up against the snowy white background. There were also
folk song performances and an area to sample the local foods.

On February 11th and 12th, Unazuki Onsen (Hot Springs) will have a bar
counter made of snow, where they will offer cocktails with soda made
from local water! This year, they will also have fireworks every
Saturday night all the way through March 12th.

In the town of Kamiichi, on February 11th, there will be a Snow
Festival that focuses on traditional performing arts and nabe (hot
pot) to warm you up.

For an experience with more direct contact with the snow, also on the
11th, the Tonami Ski Resort will have a Snow Festival where visitors
can try riding a snow mobile or participate in slalom and snowshoeing

At Toyama’s largest winter resort on Mt. Tateyama, blue, red, and
yellow lanterns will light up the base of the mountain. Complete with
a fireworks show set to music, this is sure to be a romantic way to
spend a cold evening.

Finally, at the Ice Festival this weekend in Inami – an area famous
for woodcarving – there will be ice carving demonstrations and
exhibitions. This is a great way to enjoy the sculpture art of “Snow

Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now