For almost a decade, I came to Japan as a tourist, spending the summer months hopping between Tokyo and Fukuoka and plenty of places in between. Of course, this summer schedule meant I was very familiar with kakigori (shaved ice) and fireworks in the scorching heat and humidity. But, I was still green to the other seasonal delights that Japan offers when my family and I decided to make the big move, one autumn, to Fukuoka.
Fall harvests, colors and festivals will always hold a special place in my heart, eliciting memories of the joy of stepping off the plane and basking in the refreshing breeze and golden-tinged afternoons and knowing, for the first time, that I wouldn’t have to worry about the sadness of “going home” anymore. Japan became more than my summer getaway from that first fall—it was home.
The Culinary Landscape
Summer in my Canadian hometown was great for the foodie in me––open-air markets were jam-packed with the freshest fruits and vegetables that local farmers could supply. Sure, I could still pick up out-of-season produce in the dead of winter, but they were imported from elsewhere and lacked the juicy sweetness and pleasant aroma of their summer counterparts. Shopping for groceries during that first autumn in Japan meant adjusting to the seasonal nature of meal planning, something I’ve come to love about life here.
Catch of the Season
Compared to the fish you’ll find in your local supermarket in the spring, the ones in the fall tend to be juicier and fatter as they prepare for the colder winter waters. While popular fish like sanma (Pacific saury) and saba (mackerel) can be bought throughout the country, I first fell in love with the Kyushu flavors accompanying these catches. Try stuffing sanma with the Fukuoka prefecture’s specialty, mentaiko (spiced cod roe). Wrap the fish in aluminum foil and grill on low heat for about 15 minutes before removing the foil and turning the heat up to high for the final five minutes—crispy on the outside, fatty and spicy on the inside.
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