Photo: Tea farm in Chiran, Kagoshima. Mt. Kaimondake is on the back.
In this blog, we will be stepping into the farming world of food in Kagoshima. Despite being the 10th largest prefecture by land, consisting of many islands, and being very mountainous, the strong farming culture of Kagoshima makes it the second largest agriculture producing prefecture in Japan. This has naturally helped Kagoshima become a heaven for food lovers in Japan. Many of the farmers have great relations with the restaurants, allowing the restaurants to offer high quality meals for a very reasonable price.
Fruits and Vegetables of Kagoshima
The sweet potato, more than anything else, represents Kagoshima. In fact, the Japanese name for sweet potato is Satsuma Imo, which comes from the old name of Kagoshima, Satsuma. Kagoshima produces nearly 40% of sweet potatoes in Japan. It is guaranteed to be seen in every course meal in Kagoshima. Historically, Satsuma Imo were just as much a part of the diet as rice was.
In addition to the usual tabletop vegetables, some highly produced vegetables in Kagoshima are okra, a wide variety of peas & beans such as snap peas and broad beans, bamboo shoots, and much more. Did you know? Kagoshima is home to the world’s largest radish, the massive Sakurajima Daikon radish can grow up to 30kg (65lbs).
As for fruit, have you ever heard of the Satsuma Orange? Citrus trees of all kinds, from tiny kumquats to the giant banpeiyu, can be seen throughout Kagoshima. Not only are the citrus fruits delicious, but also make wonderful table decorations in the fall and winter months.
As Kagoshima has many islands stretching far south, there is also quite a large production of tropical fruit such as the passion fruit, dragon fruit, guava, and more.
The big 3: Pork, Beef, & Chicken
If you read last article An Intro to Kagoshima, you will know that meat is perhaps the best kept secret of Kagoshima. Kagoshima ranks number 1 in poultry, pork and beef. The quality of the meat is also second to none.
Kagoshima is most well-known its Kurobuta brand of pork, and a majority of local dishes include pork. While the popular shabu shabu dish is usually beef throughout Japan, in Kagoshima it is pork and absolutely mouthwatering.
Kagoshima’s Kuroge Wagyu Beef has been receiving high praise of late, too, including being chosen as the top beef at Japan’s Wagyu Olympics in 2022.
Why is the meat so delicious in Kagoshima? It’s all about the sweet potatoes, but that is something I’ll touch on in a future article.
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the green tea of Kagoshima. If you ever come to Kagoshima, you will see that the locals are very proud of green tea. It is, after all, the second largest producer of green tea in Japan. However, what many tea lovers don’t realize, is the tea from Kagoshima is often blended with tea from other locations to enrich the flavor.
Now that you know a bit about the agriculture. I’ll introduce some famous local dishes in the next article.
Author: Kagoshima Cameron