Throughout Japan, many towns and villages have their local specialties which are connected to the geography and history of the place. In the case of Tsuwano, one of these local cuisine is the Uzume-meshi (うずめ飯）, and the accompanying konyaku-sashimi.
Walking the old castle town one can find many restaurants with うずめ飯(uzume-meshi) on their daily recommendations and signs.
Dish summary: First, it seems to be just a bowl of soup with rice, but the really delicious things are buried under the rice. Nowadays one can find carrots, dried shiitake mushrooms, tofu, kamaboko (processed/cured fish paste), aforementioned Mitsuba (Japanese parsely) , nori (seaweed) and wasabi under the rice.
Season: It is served all year around but the true season for it is “when spring is just but a name, amidst the winds are still piercing cold”. That early spring is the season of the Japanese parsley which is minced and put into the dish, giving it a distinct aroma.
Important ingredients: Wasabi, an important ingredient is locally produced and freshly grated. The freshly grated wasabi has a sweetness, which is missing from the factory processed deep-frozen wasabi.
Story: There are many origin stories for this dish, and why the ingredients are buried. The most commonly used explanation by the locals is that back in the old days (in Edo period), sometimes one had to hide certain types of ingredients, because they were deemed “a luxury”. One could get into trouble with the community if seen eating things like fresh fish and meat,
Other stories emphasize the humbleness of the mountain-vegetable ingredients, or sometimes concentrate on the surprise element of uncovering the buried delicacies.
Recognition: uzume-meshi was recognized as one of five most famous rice dishes by the Imperial Household Agency.