Oysters of Hiroshima
Judging from the oyster shells found at ancient shell mounds, eating oysters
dates back to the Jomon-Yayoi periods around Hiroshima Bay.
It is believed that oyster farming appeared during the Tenmon era (1532 -
1555). In 1624, Heishiro Yoshiwaya took the ishimaki rock farming method and
developed it into the hibitate (bamboo sticks) farming method. Because of the
many stories telling of the creation of the hibitate method, one can safely
assume that in the old days people were competing regionally to promote
sophisticated techniques for farming oysters.
The hibitate method placed the oyster farm between the high and low tide,
which limited farming to coastal areas. In 1926, the suika (hanging shell)
method, which made offshore farming possible, replaced the hibitate method and
became the mainstream in the Showa era. Oyster farming expanded into the
Inland Sea after the limits on offshore farming imposed during World War II
were lifted, thus transforming oyster farming from dependence on stakes to
reliance on rafts.
Oyster dishes represent some of the appetizing winter foods in Hiroshima.
Harvesting Cultured Oysters (Photograph taken circa 1994)
More than 90 of the oysters sold nationwide are in shelled form. Stripping oysters is a major task in oyster production. The sight of this handwork brings us the real feeling of winter in Hiroshima. Improved transportation systems and advanced freezing technology have increased overseas demands. In 1990 the oyster was chosen as the official seafood representing Hiroshima Prefecture.