There are a few things I don't like about the winter months, but there are definitely some things I absolutely LOVE about the winter months. Food is a big one. Ummmm......actually, food might be it.....no, wait. I do love the snow. I wish it would snow here, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen this year. I guess I really need to get in my car and drive up to the mountains so I can get some snow pictures. Ah, but I digress. We were talking about food.
Oyster season typically begins in September, but I don't think they really taste good until January/February. I think the colder it is, the better they taste. Miyajima is known for oysters (among many other things), and every year in February they host an Oyster Festival. I have been a few times and it's super crowded, but it's a lot of fun. I went this year with a great group of friends who love to eat and take pictures almost as much as I do.
We went this past Sunday and when we got off of the ferry, we saw the area to the right had been set up with tents and there was a stage. I was told there would be a Taiko Drum show in the afternoon. As I'm looking around, I realize there are long lines of people in the tent area. At the end of each line there is someone holding up a sign. One said, "Fried Oysters 1 for 200yen" I just thought these people were crazy. There are oysters being sold all over the place. Why stand in a really long line if you don't have to? Hmmmm......maybe the fried oysters at that tent were supposed to be amazing? I wasn't going to find out. I did not feel like standing in any really long line for food. So, on we went.
Instead of turning left and walking down the covered area with all of the shops and restaurants, we decided to walk by the water. It was kind of cold, but nothing unbearable. We thought we'd walk a little and keep an eye out for a food stand that had oysters. There was a little white stand on the left that caught our attention.
It looked like a lemonade stand. It wasn't the lemons that caught my eye though. It was the sign that said "oyster chowder" and the fact that he took yen and dollars. I have never seen any place in Miyajima advertise that they take dollars too. Very nice! He also had signs in English! I really wanted to try that oyster chowder so after a couple of other people in my group ordered it, I walked up and ordered one for myself. After a few minutes, he came around with a cup full of chowder. It smelled so good! And it was hot. Perfect for a cold day. We decided to sit down and enjoy our oyster chowder. It tasted really good. There were whole oysters in it and onions and carrots and some potato chunks. Yummy! While we sat there and enjoyed our chowder, the owner of the lemon stand brought us some candied lemon peel that he made himself. OH. MY. GOSH. The lemon peel was very good. I love that he uses all parts of the lemon and doesn't let anything go to waste. He sells fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon cakes and candied lemon peel. If that wasn't wonderful enough, he sauteed up some oysters with seasoning that he also sells. Wow! Those oysters were the best oysters I have ever had! Seriously! This guy was amazing! I want to go back! Now!
As we were sitting there inhaling the sauteed (not sure if I am spelling this right....) oysters, I looked across the way and there was an okonomiyaki stand across from the amazing oyster chowder stand. They were selling fried oysters.......and there wasn't a super long line. My friends went up and ordered some. I kept looking over and wondering if they were selling oyster okonomiyaki. This was an oyster festival after all. So, Danielle and I went over to take pictures of the okonomiyaki cooking on the grill and there were oysters grilling right next to them! Ohhhhhh....if only I weren't so full! I ate so many sauteed oysters.....and I had a whole cup of oyster chowder. I just couldn't eat anything else. I did get some pictures though.
And here's a picture of the fried oysters -
And just because I know you think all I did was eat and take pictures of food -
If you missed the oyster festival last weekend, you don't have to wait until next year to get some yummy oysters. Oysters are still being grilled and fried and sold all over the island, and will be for at least the next few weeks. I tried to get pictures of the guys grilling them in front of the restaurants, but there were too many people! Miyajima is easy to get to by the local train. I usually purchase round trip tickets at the window and it includes the ferry ticket. I believe it was 980yen for the round trip train and ferry. Not bad. So, if you like oysters head on over to Miyajima this weekend and check out the many different oyster dishes available!