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Monday, 19 December 2016

Exploring Itoshima! (Part 1)

One weekend, my mom decided to rent a car and explore Itoshima, a place that she's wanted to go ever since she heard about the oyster huts. As the navigator, I found a really good blogpost by Fukuoka Now that we (somewhat) followed. And in an even greater stroke of coincidence, the car rental company was the same! That was definitely not planned(:

Our car for the day :D 

First stop: Oyster Huts (牡蠣小屋)

Since we set off rather late (around 11), we decided to head straight to lunch. Itoshima is famous for its oysters (or so I hear) and once the oyster season comes, oyster huts pop up! We decided to visit 住吉丸 (sumiyoshimaru).

But first, I saw the fluffiest cat at the huts!

Unfortunately, said cat (which my brother nicknamed "Garfield" because of how grumpy it looks) refused to look in our direction.

Inside the hut, we were all given yellow jackets and shown to a grill.

It is really all seafood. For my brother, who isn't a big fan, it meant that there wasn't much for him to eat (and we ended up getting him some fish which he enjoyed cooking).

The oysters are 1000 yen for 1kg, though if you choose the bigger oysters (which they didn't have when we came), the price goes up. If I remember correctly, the biggest oysters cost 1500 yen per kg.

Apart from oysters and fish, we also ordered scallops and prawns! And oyster rice.

The seafood was extremely fresh, and I totally see why we needed the jackets. Oysters tend to open with a pop (if you're lucky) or what sounds like a mini-explosion, complete with oyster juice flying all over the place. Not to mention all the ash from the grill in the place!

It's definitely worth it for the seafood, though.

After eating, we were back to the car and off we went!

But not without stopping to take a few photos.

We were basically driving along the coastline and the scenery was breathtaking. So when there was a place to pull over, my mom stopped for a while for us to enjoy the view and grab some shots.

Maitachi Salt Factory (Tottan)

Our second stop was the Maitachi Salt Factory (which according to their site is called とったん), and has the most scenic parking lot I've ever seen. And yes, I will be using the word scenic a lot because the view truly is beautiful.

Scenic, right?

Because the road to the factory is narrow, only cars that carry the elderly, disabled or very young are allowed to drive all the way to the factory. Everyone else has to walk in.

It's about a 5 to 10 minute walk, though, which isn't too bad.

I really love the look and feel of the place. It's got lots of places for people to relax and play, and almost everything is made out of wood (or what looks like wood)

The people there were really helpful too. We were directed to walk to the back and look at this:

Apparently, this circulates the seawater for 10 days, helping evaporation along and making it saltier.

And if you look, you can see the pipe

Which leads into the sea.

After letting the sun do its work, the salt water is further heated up until it's 30% (or was it 33%?) salt. So the white thing you see floating on top in the picture below is salt!

Just scoop it out and it's done. It just needs to be dried via centrifugal force and then tested for quality.

Because the salt water isn't heated to insane levels (like what the big factories do, according to the guide), all the minerals in the salt are preserved. The factory is pretty old, and produces about 40kg of salt a day! (Which makes the salt sold here rather pricey, but we still bought a packet because it seems healthier. Plus, how cool is it to know where the salt is from?)

And if you're here, you have to try their salt pudding! There are a couple of flavours (plain, sesame and chocolate), but I like plain the best!

And according to the sign, the most number of bottles sold to one person was 64! I wonder how many s/he ate, or what sort of party this is. And if you don't want to drive all the way to the salt factory, this is the same pudding that my friends and I got at the Sumi Cafe, which I blogged about here.

I actually have three more spots to share, but I think this is sufficiently long. I'll stop here now and come back and finish up tomorrow (or Wednesday).

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