Hakusanroku bear meat
Try some Japanese “gibier” dishes at the foot of Mt. Hakusan, a well-known spot for wild game cuisine!
As some might know, farmed animal meats are made tasty through the addition of fatty proteins to livestock diets. Sometimes producers even go so far as to feed their livestock with beer to improve the marble effect. In fact, Japanese people love the effects of their efforts! However, it would sometimes be good to also go back to the initial enthusiasm to learn about nature and habitat of these animals. Although not so many people engage in hunting activities in modern times, it is possible to meet mountain people and listen to their amazing stories while partaking in some of good Japanese “gibier” dishes in the area. Natural ingredients not mass produced, yet are precious and safe for your health.
Acorns: wild animals' feed
~The foot of Mt. Hakusan~
Make good use of the opportunity not to waste the animals lives.
What kind of animals inhabit in Hakusanroku? Nihon-kamoshika (Japanese serows), Nihon-zaru (Japanese macaques), Tukinowaguma bears, Inuwashi (golden eagles), deers, wild boars, and some others. A change of the natural environment often influences the animal ecology of the mountain area. Too many wild animals come to country hills for searching food, and it causes serious damage to crops after all. For those situations, people are forced to get rid of some of the wild animals in the area, but they never exterminate, of course. However, it’s still too much to share all the meat with neighbors, thus they used to just throw rest of them away. What a waste! Therefore they started to make good use of the opportunity for business not to waste the animal lives. They hope that unique ventures such as gibier cuisine will help stem the continual rural depopulation in these areas, or at the very least attract more eco-tourism from their urban-dwelling counterparts.
~Japanese gibier cuisine~
Visiting a walking encyclopedia about Hakusanroku
Mr. Sengiku, a walking encyclopedia about Hakusanroku, is the owner of the restaurant Tedorigawa. They serve Japanese gibier dishes, such as kuma-don (bear bowl), kuma-soba (buckwheat noodle with bear meat), botan-nabe (wild boar hot pot), shika-sashi (raw deer meat), among others. We visited the restaurant on a snowy day in December, and could talk with him. He grew up in the area and has an excellent career as a chef. This food expert buys wild animal meats only from specific huntsmen. Why?
Mr. Sengiku: the owner of Restaurant Tedorigawa
“It’s just because their hunting skills are magnificent. The good flesh is greatly affected by the process of butchery.” He says. “Some people believe that wild animal meat has a strong smell, however, they are actually just unlucky they have never eaten the right meat.” We tried them there, and with impressive results. The bear meat tasted just like beef, and without any distinctive smell! It was no tougher than any of the other mountain vegetables in the bowl! And the fat even gave sort of a tasty flavor to the noodle soup! It didn’t take long to become a big fan of bear meat! Mr. Sengiku further explained, “In addition, it’s important to know where the animals inhabited. Bears eating acorns gives their flesh more savor just like Spanish Iberian pork; on the other hand, feeding on lots of ginko nuts makes it stinky as you might guess!”
ブランド肉 Brand Niku
~Original brand meats~
Have a try at natural meat instead of farmed varieties!
Wild boars had never inhabited this area until ten years ago. Has global warming caused the animals’ migration and multiplication perhaps? Thus wild boar meat is kind of new in this area. A group of volunteers called “Hakusan Fumotokai” started to sell gibier wild game meats as their own brand recently. Local administration helped them in building their own facility in 2011. Animals feed on acorns and pure water from Mt. Hakusan in the woods, and their flesh is not marbled. It’s said both bear and wild boar meat can keep your body warm, and contains less cholesterol.
Many places in Hakusanroku have served those unique cuisine items since long ago. You can try one of them after mountain activities. When you have an opportunity to visit this area, have a try at local gibier dishes instead of farmed ones!
Published: January 15, 2015