• Kyodo

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A local shop selling “takoyaki” octopus dumplings that was wiped out in the deadly tsunami of March 2011 has reopened in the port town of Yuriage in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture.

A single, longtime fan, yearning to taste the original recipe of former store owner Kiyo Hashiura, 92, who was swept away in the disaster, restarted the business last year. The store now attracts lengthy lines.

Raising the red flag of Yuriage Takoyaki high above his truck — which he has converted into a mobile food stall — 36-year-old Yukihiro Sato now serves portions of three takoyaki — grilled balls of batter with a piece of octopus inside — on skewers, lathered with sweet, thick sauce.

Sato frequently visited Hashiura’s shop prior to the tsunami, and aspired to be a takoyaki vendor himself. He decided to reopen the business as part of reconstruction efforts in the devastated town after joining an event in a temporary shopping district where residents attempted to reproduce Hashiura’s original recipe.

Sato received advice from other villagers that allowed him to revive the recipe, and chose to maintain the familiar Yuriage style of skewering the takoyaki balls with a wooden skewer.

Masako Kisara, 66, another longtime fan of Hashiura’s takoyaki, visits the shop regularly from a temporary housing camp. “I am pleased to have this good old takoyaki again,” Kisara said.

Hashiura originally opened the takoyaki shop in the corner of her house some 70 years ago, using a recipe and utensils given to her by an acquaintance. The shop soon became a favorite of local residents.

Her 66-year-old son, Seiichi Hashiura, recalls that his mother’s takoyaki were the most popular in local festivals, as well as having people waiting in line in front of their house.

Some customers coming to Sato’s shop say Hashiura’s original sauce was thicker and sweeter. Others say it was more spicy. “Everyone has their own memories of her takoyaki,” Sato said. “I hope my takoyaki evokes the past memories of Yuriage.”

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