It's often thought that sushi (although which contrary to popular belief, doesn't actually require any seafood) is thought of to be Japan's representative fish dish, it may be eel, or unagi, that is the country's most beloved. Now changing attitudes toward food abroad has helped unagi gain more popularity in foreign countries, shifting toward the same status as a savory and luxury treat (and one of the country's summer delicacies) that it holds in Japan.

Much like sushi, unagi may as well have become part of the English language, with many high quality varieties in Japan attracting foreign guests and tourists. The sauce-covered warming dish is a big crowd-pleaser, and when served over rice, becomes a fulfilling and savory meal, with delicious kabayaki sauce transforming even the rice into a special dish of its own. Depending on your culinary taste, unagi may seem a bit exotic or even strange, but this documentary which takes a look at Yamada Fisheries in Kagoshima will show unagi might not be so weird after all.

Although unagi is thought of as a regional specialty in Shizuoka, major farming takes place in Kagoshima, where Yamada Fisheries is located. There, Naotake Kato, one of the local eel masters, talks about raising eels in a non-chemical and organic environment, hoping to deliver the safe and high quality taste of unagi to all over the world.

But perhaps what separates Yamada Fisheries from others is the close attention with which they cultivate eels to guarantee the purest taste and quality. Workers take up residence within the facility, essentially living with the eels 24/7. This allows them to better understand the conditions to which the eels respond most positively, with subtle changes in the water and food.

Dedicating this type of effort to raising eels has the staff heavily involved, gathering in the morning to even sing and dance together, forging a positive spirit to prepare for such detailed work, in place of chemicals. The video takes a special look at how workers strive diligently to create an atmosphere where methods of production are wholly organic, and their understanding of the eels is deep.

Yamada Fisheries benefits from a natural environment that helps them raise the purest unagi

Even when raising and preparing unagi, they apply "Japanese spirit" through exercise and dance

This organic and attention-based approach to preparing unagi translates into a truly unique taste that can represent one of Japan's soul foods

Opened in July this year, Yamada Fishery is also providing an "Unagi Station"--a station not for travel, but one that features reasonable priced unagi from Kagoshima, as well as a fresh fish market. For those that cannot make it to the Unagi Station in Kagoshima, a specially opened Roppongi restaurant also exists. Unagi carefully cultivated in Kagoshima and barbecued four times over is a steal at 980 yen.

Yamada Fishery (Yamada Suisan)

Unagi Specialty Shop Manzen

Roppongi 4 - chome Roppongi Minato - ku, Tokyo Roppongi 410 Building 4F

By - grape Japan editorial staff.

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