The ‘Swimming Town of Koi’ in Shimabara
The city of Shimabara in Nagasaki Prefecture, with more than 60 natural springs, is also known as the City of Water. The ‘Swimming Town of Koi’ is beautifully maintained by residents who release koi into the city’s waterways, filled with spring water. The sight of various koi (red and white, three-color, golden, etc.) swimming in the beautiful waterways, still reminiscent of the old castle town, can be quite moving.
Hot spring steamed cuisine
On the Shimabara Peninsula, a hot spring resort area, there is a “onsen steamed food” that takes advantage of the hottest spring temperature in Japan. This is a popular local method of using hot spring steam to cook local vegetables and seafood in a healthy way. The “steaming kettles” in the Obama hot spring resort use hot spring water that rises to about 105°C (221°F). The food is placed in a steamer basket and placed in the kettle, where it waits for a while to be steamed until it is hot and ready. There are many restaurants specializing in steamed food in the area, and visitors can enjoy a variety of steamed dishes.
Kanzarashi made with natural spring water
Kanzarashi is a traditional sweet that has been made in the Shimabara area in the past. It is said that “Kanzarashi” originated from the wisdom of the residents of Shimabara, who used to make dumplings from rice flour and eat them in spring water to keep the rice scraps from spoiling. The recipe for the honey used on the dumplings differs from household to household and from store to store, making it possible to enjoy a variety of flavors, which is one of the charms of this sweet.
Kanzarashi handmaking experience
Kanzarashi are traditional sweets made by cooling boiled small dumplings in spring water. In Shimabara City, you can try your hand at making kanzarashi. Refined rice flour, called kanzarashi flour, is kneaded to form round dumplings, boiled, and then soaked in running water to finish. After immersing them in running water, the kanzarashi have a mild texture that goes well with sweet syrup. Try your hand at making your very own kanzarashi.
Tenobe-somen(Hand-pulled somen) handmaking experience
According to another report, after the riot in Shimabara-Amakusa, immigrants from Shodoshima introduced the method of making hand-stretch somen noodles. Visitors can experience the process of stretching the noodles to a length of about 2 meters by inserting a large pair of chopsticks called “sabaki. The texture of the freshly made “raw” somen noodles after stretching is chewy, a taste that can only be experienced in the area.
Beautiful terraced fields crafted by farmers
The town of Minamikushiyama in the city of Unzen, due to its hilly terrain and scarcity of lowlands, has a unique scenery of terraced fields, called tanabatake, that line the hillsides. The Tanabatake Observation Deck is a popular spot for taking pictures, offering a panoramic view overlooking about 800 neatly arranged terraced fields. Designated one of Nagasaki Prefecture’s 10 best terraced fields, they boast one of the largest yields of potatoes in Japan.
Shimabara’s spring water and somen-nagashi
Shimabara has long been known as the City of Water and is home to many natural springs. One of the dishes utilizing the spring water is somen-nagashi (running water noodles), in which tenobe-somen (‘Hand-pulled somen’), a specialty of the area, are washed in the spring water. At somen-nagashi restaurants, water is poured in the middle of the table, and patrons enjoy the tenobe-somen after dipping them in the water. These restaurants once abounded throughout the city but are now becoming fewer and fewer. However, there are also places where you can enjoy somen-nagashi using bamboo sticks, and we encourage you to enjoy this specialty when visiting Shimabara.