The fresh air of Yamaguchi Prefecture may be far removed from Tokyo, but stepping inside Oidemase Yamaguchi Kan (Welcome-to-Yamaguchi Building), its outpost in the Nihonbashi business district, can make a visitor feel half-way there.
“A laid-back atmosphere represents the character of the people in Yamaguchi, so we wanted to create space for visitors to feel this,” said Takeshi Maeda, assistant section chief. The outlet is officially known as the Tokyo office for Yamaguchi Trade and Tourism.
This laid-back concept is found directly outside the entrance to the shop, which leases space inside a building. Two tables set in a spacious area allow passersby to relax, while a monitor on the wall shows videos depicting life in Yamaguchi. Currently on view is a guide to cooking fugu, a local specialty.
“We often see office workers sitting on the chairs for a short break,” watching the video, Maeda said, adding that many visitors also sit at the tables to eat items they purchased in the shop or when they flip through the travel brochures on display.
Inside the shop, a variety of local specialties, including food and handicrafts, are available. Items sell for the same price as in the prefecture, which is 800 km from Tokyo, Maeda said.
Flanked by the Sea of Japan and the Seto Inland Sea, Yamaguchi is famous for seafood. One popular delicacy sold at the shop is “kamaboko” (fish cake), made of minced, broiled fresh fish formed into a semi-cylindrical shape.
Also popular are “fuku” products. Puffer in Japan is generally pronounced fugu, but Yamaguchi people call it fuku, which also means happiness. The shop sells dried and frozen fugu products.
Traditional local sweets for sale include “uiro,” a steamed, jellylike cake, which is made from bracken starch, red bean paste and sugar. The outlet offers four kinds of uiro, depending on the season, with the version containing burdock available in winter.
Among its handicrafts, Hagi ceramic tableware and Ouchi lacquerware dolls are popular, especially with foreign visitors, Maeda said.
Tourist information is available from the staff or searching a designated Web site on the premises, as well as from pamphlets.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.