Tateyama: A Town Blessed with Water
On the east side of Toyama Prefecture, the town of Tateyama is rich in natural surroundings. Many regionally important and compelling destinations that draw countless visitors from Japan and overseas are in town -- including the famed Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route and Shomyo Falls, the highest waterfall in Japan at 350 meters.
Every winter, snow piles up and around the 3,000-meter Tateyama mountain peaks; every spring, an abundance of crystal clear meltwater filters down the mountain and serves to irrigate the rice fields. The array of flooded rice paddies in the early summer makes a spectacular sight serves as a reminder for how blessed the land is with pure mountain water.
This naturally pristine water has helped Tateyama become one of the prime rice-growing areas in Japan. The historical importance of rice-growing here is shown by the name of a local station, Gohyakkoku. The name indicates that in feudal times, the neighborhood was able to feed 500 people (gohyaku) with the amount of rice it produced (measured in koku).
Plentiful water also encouraged the production of everyday items and artisanal ceramics known as local Etchu Seto-Yaki pottery. The softness with which the ceramics are made tells tales of the warmth in everyday actions, such as serving rice for loved ones or pouring sake for friends. The Etchu Seto-Yaki raicho sake pitcher is a fun design shaped like a mountain ptarmigan for which Tateyama is famous. It helps to temper and mellow the edge of the sake being poured.
The local delicacy kobu-jime is fresh sashimi–often caught in beautiful Toyama bay or the prefecture’s crystalline rivers–sandwiched with konbu, or kelp. With a crisp taste that calls back to the heavy snow piled on the Tateyama peaks, this savory treat is a great excuse to keep on drinking.
We welcome you to join us in Tateyama Town, where we utilize blessed mountain water in every way imaginable.
Etchu Seto-Yaki Pottery
Local production began with kilns set up over 400 years ago by the Kaga clan. In present-day, five Tateyama potters manipulate locally sourced white clay and glaze to then fire their works in kilns fueled by logs of red pine.
The subtlety and grace of this rustic ware has attracted many fans, the late Steve Jobs among them.
In Toyama Prefecture, a traditional way of serving sashimi includes pressing raw fish with konbu, a kind of kelp.
This goes as far back as the feudal period and into early modern times, when Kitamae coastal cargo ships transported kelp from Hokkaido all the way to Osaka. These boats called on local ports for means of transshipping, and Toyama became an intermediate destination for such journeys. Konbu was introduced to Toyama, and kobu-jime was born.
The kelp draws out some of the moisture from the sashimi while the saltiness of the kelp brings out the flavor. The combination of kelp and sashimi is naturally made even more delicious with sake.