Miki Sasagawa / Shimayui Product Developer
Agodashi, a delicious flying fish soup stock unique to Yakushima
The coastal town of Anbo is located on the east side of Yakushima. A wide variety of flying fish are caught by the fishing boats that make use of Anbo’s port. In fact, more flying fish are caught here than anywhere else in Japan. Recently, products that make use of a particularly small variety of flying fish called “sagama” have gained popularity.
Sagama are small enough that a whole fish can be put in a bottle, making it easy to create an Agodashi soup stock by merely adding “Yakushima instant dashi (soup stock) soy sauce.” Tasty and unique, this product has become quite popular. In fact, there are five Agodashi products now, including “Yakushima Yakiago dashi salt” and “Yakushima Agodashi crackers.” Miki-san, the owner of Shimayui, makes all of them. She moved to Yakushima in 2012, following her husband, a mountain guide.
Miki-san had never even touched fish before she came here. Her interest in Agodashi products was piqued by a friend back in Tokyo who told her “Agodashi is popular now.” She had been thinking, “It’s too bad Agodashi isn’t produced in Yakushima even though Yakushima catches a lot of flying fish.” Then, when she was traveling, Miki-san came upon a vending machine that sold bottles of Agodashi. Each bottle contained a whole Ago, a variety of flying fish. That’s when it occurred to her, that she might be able to make use of Yakushima’s flying fish in a similar fashion. At the time, Miki-san was working at Kunsei-ya (Smokehouse) Kei Marine Products. When a fisherman friend came along with an unusually small variety of flying fish, the sagama, she was inspired. “This is it!”
Before long, Miki-san started to develop and make products using sagama. Mr. Tanaka, the director of Kunsei-ya (Smokehouse) Kei Marine Products shared her hope that Yakushima’s flying fish would gain greater popularity, and he helped her to realize the production of Yakushima Agodashi products.
Because sagama are a small variety of flying fish that fishermen have generally not seen as having great potential, only a few fishermen caught sagama until recently. Smiling, Miki-san told me “I’ll be glad when more fishermen catch sagama. Thanks to the people I’ve met, I’m able to make something now. I’m grateful to the sagama fish, to the fishermen who catch them, and to Mr. Tanaka who taught me how to develop new products and kindly allowed me to use his processing plant.” The kindness that Miki-san encountered here on Yakushima can be found inside each little bottle.
Yakushima instant dashi soy sauce won the Forestry and Fisheries Prize at a fisheries competitive exhibition in 2018. It makes use of delicacies from several areas: sagama and mackerel from Yakushima, cured bonito from Makurazaki, and seaweed from Hokkaido. It’s user-friendly because an index on the back of the bottle tells you the proper quantities to use as an alternative to other seasonings such as soy sauce and mirin.
Written by Sanpo-tei, Rei Ogata
- Address: 2504-50, Anbo, Yakushima Township
- Kumage District, Kagoshima Prefecture
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