National

Fukushima food tours aiming to shake radiation fears after nuclear crisis taking off

JIJI

Tours in Fukushima Prefecture featuring meals in rural settings made with local produce are gaining in popularity, with the organizer hoping to dispel lingering health concerns about food harvested in the prefecture following the nuclear accident in March 2011.

As part of the food camp tour, designed by Magonote Travel, a table is set up in the middle of a field and multicourse meals are offered by renowned chefs mainly using vegetables and fruits produced in the very same field.

“I’ve seen farmers struggling after the nuclear accident,” Shonoshin Yamaguchi, 49, president of the Koriyama-based travel company, said, referring to the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.

“I wanted to make tours featuring foods and food producers,” he said.

The tour started in 2015, and different food themes have been set on each occasion. Thirteen tours are planned for this year, with themes covering more food and drink than before, including strawberries, cucumbers, pork and craft beer.

“I want tour participants to know the (prefecture’s) rich nature and the attraction of food in Fukushima by eating meals in the open air,” Yamaguchi said.

In the village of Tamakawa on Oct. 1, a food camp was held in a field of Actinidia arguta, the original species of kiwi and a specialty of the village.

A chef from Koriyama specializing in Italian food prepared arguta salad and risotto, as well as salmon saute with arguta sauce in a mobile kitchen parked beside the field. Amid a refreshing breeze, 25 participants enjoyed a five-course meal.

“It’s special to have a meal in the middle of a field,” said Yuko Yajima, a 66-year-old Tokyo resident who was participating in the tour for the sixth time. “I don’t get bored as the tour offers different themes every time.”

Yoshitoshi Sasaki, a 74-year-old Koriyama resident, said, “Eating in the open air makes the meal taste even better.”