Kagoshima, Hokkaido cities marry their foods

Kyodo

No shotgun necessary. In a friendly “arranged marriage,” two cities — Makurazaki in Kagoshima Prefecture and Wakkanai in Hokkaido — united their local delicacies in a Shinto-style wedding ceremony at Izumo Shrine in Shimane Prefecture Wednesday.

The union of dried kelp (“rishiri kombu”) harvested from the cold waters of Hokkaido and “katsuobushi” (dried shaved bonito) is intended to drawing people’s attention to local foods. Both kombu and katsuo are essential ingredients of “dashi,” a soup stock.

The two also form a pun: Combining “kom” and “katsu” yields “konkatsu,” which means “marriage hunting.”

The two cities’ specialties were dedicated to the shrine’s deities.

Wedding guests were presented with souvenir snacks made of kelp and packages of dried bonito.

The two food items got acquainted when Makurazaki and Wakkanai “tied the knot” as friendship cities on April 28, 2012.

The Makurazaki Municipal Government initiated the relationship, officials said, noting both cities host train stations in the remotest corners of the main islands.

Wakkanai Station on JR Hokkaido’s Soya Line is the country’s northernmost, while Makurazaki Station, operated by JR Kyushu on the Ibusuki Makurazaki Line, is the southernmost.

Makurazaki “proposed” to Wakkanai following the registration of “washoku,” traditional Japanese cuisine, on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in December, saying they should take the opportunity to promote local foods together, officials said.

Along with the newlyweds’ patron city of Izumo, the three intend to introduce new products using dried kelp and bonito, and work together to boost tourism.