The “B-1 Grandprix” a gateway to success for local delicacies. 2012’s East Japan/ Tokai are winner “Katsuura Tantanmen” put this are on everyone’s map. Situated in the south of the Bosou peninsula, is this scenic port city of Katsuura which draws in tourists with its stunning seaside views. Come and enjoy the salt air and some piping hot spicy ramen.
The port city soul food
Katsuura city is well known by tourists for its great local fish at the morning market, as well as for hosting one of the biggest Hina-matsuri festivals around the “Katsuura Big Hinamatsuri”. The most popular cheap yet delicious dish here is the “Katsuura Tantanmen”, which is a ramen with a soy sauce based soup and full of spicy oil topped with onion and ground meat. Thought up to warm the hard working Ama divers and the commercial fishermen after a long cold day of working in or on the water originally. A thick layer of spicy sesame seed oil sits atop this bowl and makes you feel warm just looking at it.
Katsuura Tantanmen isn’t just sold at ramen shops, but also at local coffee shops, gastro pubs, and many other eateries. Each offering is a bit different by who makes it. Today we introduce the most popular one from “Oshokujidokoro Ishii” who is said to have learned it directly from its first creator.
*Originally Katsuura Tantanmen was thought up by the shop “Ezawa” but they have moved from Katsuura city to nearby Kamogawa.
Deliciousness that makes you cough!?
“Oshokujidokoro Ishii” is about a 10 minute walk from JR Katsuura station, tucked away behind the main street which holds the morning fish market. Because they cater to fishermen it is open from 7am.
Each bowl (700 JPY each) of Katsuura Tantanmen here contains almost one whole chopped onion believe it or not. You can enjoy the different flavors of onion as half is raw and the other is sautéed. The spicy oil is made in house. For some the spicy oil make sucking up the noodles hard forcing some coughing. But the spicy goodness that the thick noodles are coated in is addictive to say the least. Almost there on our visit was coughing yet fully enjoying the warmth. For those that can stand the heat and want more that homemade spicy oil is sitting on the table for you to add more of.
This place is originally a cafeteria so not only is the ramen good but the seafood menu is awesome as well. It’s safe to bet many of the readers would enjoy the local seafood just as much. The freshness and tastiness gets two thumbs up here by the fishermen so you know its good.
Oshokujidokoro Ishii 0470-73-7153 Katsuura city, Katsuura 159 Hours: 7am to 2pm and 6pm to 9pm closed Wed. *It’s a small shop so they don’t provide parking, please use the municipal parking.
Katsuura Morning market 0470-73-6641 (tourism dept) Hours: 6am to 11am closed Wed. *this market features ingredients from both land and sea and has a 400 year old history.
A short stroll
Oshokujidokoro Ishii is located at the base of the “Tomisaki Jinja” shrine that is said to protect the fishing port of Katsuura and all who use it. During the “Katsuura Big Hinamatsuri” festival there are roughly 1200 adorable Hina dolls that are on display on these 60 stone steps up to the shrine. After having getting warmed up with a hot bowl of Katsuura Tantanmen why not take a stroll in the sea breeze and cool down at this shrine. The scenery atop these stairs looking down on Katsuura city really takes your breath away.
View the sparkling seas in all its glory from the shrine
This shrine not only has those 60 stone steps in front but there are many others leading further up. We were drawn by the cooling sea breeze and climbed all the way up to the top. Once on top the view opens up to reveal a spectacular observatory where you can see the ocean for all its glory. In this glistening sea with fishing boats trudging along you notice a lonely Torii (Shinto arch) standing in the sea. This view is magical if nothing else.
It is said that originally Tomisaki shrine was originally out where that Torii is, and was destroyed and swept away quakes and tsunamis and came to settle in its current location. That Torii is said to be left as a reminder. It is a sharp memory of how powerful nature can be showing us that land can be swallowed by the sea with ease.
Katsuura city is only 75km (about 90 minute drive) from the metropolis with such easy access and having both mountains and sea and an awesome local vibe, it’s hard to resist not going. Wake up just a tad early, visit the market, have some spicy ramen, take in the seascape, and have a relaxing day off here.