Resilient Spirit Packed in Every Bowl—Sōma, Fukushima’s Asahitei
This is Hizashi.
Today we visit a restaurant that refuses to be beaten down by tsunami or post-disaster alarmism: the reopened Asahitei.
Before the tsunami, the harborside Matsukawaura area of Sōma, Fukushima, welcomed many visitors coming to enjoy the particularly delicious seafood. The area bustled with its scenery, beach, shell gathering, aquaculture and more.
It’s been forty years since the restaurant was founded overlooking Matsukawaura inlet. Run by four members of the Kikuchi family, Asahitei is once again open, but they’ve moved the location.
Their home luckily avoided the tsunami, but their restaurant and aquaculture facilities—their entire livelihoods—were wiped away.
With roads torn up and blocked by debris including even overturned buses, they avoided isolation only by climbing over and through the dangerous wreckage.
Finishing with a warm smile, Yasuko Kikuchi explains:
“It’s indescribable how it was then. Three or four days after the tsunami the self-defense forces and volunteers came in and that was a great help.”
In such an overwhelming situation, they weren’t really thinking about opening the restaurant again, they tell me.
For many chaotic weeks, their days were consumed with more immediate concerns like working with the authorities and clearing debris from the water.
One day, though, some youths from a support group brought news that put the restaurant back into their plans.
Community shops would come together to take advantage of support grants. The town would join hand in hand to get back on its feet, and one part of that project would be a new specialty dish.
The “Recovery Challenge Rice Bowl”! Participating restaurants with the Matsukawaura Tourism Promotion Group are preparing special menus.
Reopened Asahitei is featuring a harako-meshi set lunch.
harako-meshi set lunch ¥1500
It’s delicious! Plump roe that pop as you bite into them, tender salmon, and tasty rice cooked in salmon broth are superb!
These days the seafood is coming from outside the region, but it’s still fresh and the prices are reasonable!
There are many other great seafood dishes here to enjoy too.
I recommend this crab and roe rice bowl lunch! It’s exactly as the name says.
Using seafood imported from other regions is a stopgap that this town hopes will soon be unnecessary.
“Happily, right now we have people coming from quite a ways away to try our recovery rice bowls. I hadn’t imagined that we’d be able to reopen and talk with customers again.
“I pray that we can get past the alarmism over contamination from the nuclear disaster. If we can’t at some point start selling our own fish again, we won’t have jobs or security. Anymore, not many cars pass by and it’s very quiet; we want lots of people to come back to the seashore. I pray that we can fish again soon, and that the old bustle of the town comes back.”
Not only Asahitei, but many other shops with long histories have come back in this community. Each has its own delicious offerings, and each is eager to share it with you.
Sōma’s resilient spirit is packed in every dish!