Tsuruoka: Creative City of Gastronomy


Inheriting, cultivating, and sharing the origins of Japanese gastronomy

Tsuruoka City has developed traditional industries, such as rice cultivation and other types of farming, forestry, fishing, and sake brewing, all of which are derived from its rich natural environment which is surrounded, by mountains, plains, rivers, and sea. This city is blessed with foods that can be harvested locally in each of the four seasons, including delicacies grown in the mountains (such as mountain vegetables and mushrooms), in the plains (such as bamboo shoots and edamame beans), and from the sea (such as cherry salmon and codfish). Tsuruoka offers a wide range of cuisines derived from these seasonal ingredients. Among them are 60 types of heirloom plants, including dadachamame beans, which have been treasured in this region for many years as part of a “living cultural heritage” and their cultivation and use have been handed down to successive generations through the wisdom and creative efforts of the city’s inhabitants. A unique gastronomy has evolved in close connection with spiritual cultures, such as Kurokawa Noh and the Shugendo religion at the Three Mountains of Dewa. At the same time, people still enjoy local cuisine and dishes served in their homes to commemorate special events.

Much of Japan’s food traditions have been lost with the passage of time but Tsuruoka, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, has retained its links with the past and continues carefully preserving, keeping alive and sharing the origins of its Japanese food culture. Tsuruoka strives to become a “Food Utopia” where food is placed at the forefront of the local culture, reflecting the developing tastes of the future generations.




Dadachamame beans (an heirloom vegetable)    l   在来野菜 だだちゃ豆


Atsumi turnips (an heirloom vegetable)   l   在来野菜 温海かぶ(焼畑かぶ)

Passing on gastronomic knowledge for the future

Heirloom crops have been protected by using traditional farming methods developed by the ancestors of Tsuroka’s present-day citizens. They have drawn on the wisdom of their predecessors who cherished their natural environment. Recipes for local dishes for all four of the seasons have been passed on by successive generations. The Tsuruoka Creative City of Gastronomy Promotion Council plays a leading role in various forthcoming initiatives in Tsuruoka, a city blessed with a rich food culture and a readily available and diverse array of tasty ingredients. These initiatives include a wide range of exchanges designed to raise awareness about gastronomy, such as food archive preservation, industrial promotion in collaboration with parties involved with food production, processing and distribution merchants, forming new business models in partnerships between the food industry and other commercial enterprises, and the promotion of food education.



Shojin Ryori at the Three Mountains of Dewa features dishes named after sacred sites and places of worship   l   聖地や拝所の名を冠した料理が並ぶ「出羽三山に伝わる精進料理」

Tofu char-broiling event at the Kurokawa Noh Ogisai festival   l   行事食「黒川能 王祇祭の豆腐焼き」

Female citizens participating as Tsuruoka Gastronomy Female Reporters    l    鶴岡食文化女性レポーターとして地元の女性が活躍

Tsuruoka is the birthplace of Japanese school lunch. Efforts are underway to provide local schools with lunch made from locally- grown ingredients.   l   学校給食発祥の地、鶴岡。地産地消給食への取り組みも実施している

Japanese sake evolved from the tradition of rice cultivation   l   稲作文化が育んだ日本酒

Tsuruoka Hinagashi sweets are closely connected to traditional events   l   伝統行事と密接な関係を持つ鶴岡の菓子文化「鶴岡雛菓子」

The Institute for Advanced Biosciences at Keio University develops technologies that can be applied to the food industry and agriculture   l   食品産業や農業へも応用可能な技術を開発する慶応義塾大学先端生命科学研究所

Shonaihama Culture Ambassadors and Ambassador Masters give local fish cooking lessons by drawing on their vast knowledge and advanced cooking skills   l   豊富な知識と高度な調理技術を生かして地魚料理教室を行なう庄内浜文化伝道師及び伝道師マイスター

Moso-jiru, a local spring dish   l   春の郷土料理 孟宗汁

Promoting Tsuruoka’s Unique Gastronomy Overseas

Exhibition at Expo Milano 2015

Tsuruoka exhibited at Expo Milano 2015 on the outskirts of Milan, Italy. A special event was held at the venue on 2nd and 3rd October 2015 on the theme of “Tsuruoka, a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.” It was one of the most popular presentations at the Japanese Pavilion and drew approximately 8,000 visitors over the two days of the exhibition. This event helped promote Tsuruoka City and its gastronomy and also helped encourage tourism and established overseas connections with industries involved with cooking ingredients and food. Similar exhibitions were also held at restaurants in Milan and the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy, in Paris, as well as in other countries.


2015年ミラノ国際博覧会に出展イタリア・ミラノ郊外で開催された「2015年ミラノ国際博覧会」に出展。102日 3日にはイベント会場で「ユネスコ食文化創造都市 鶴岡」をテーマに催事を実施しました。2日間の来場者数は約8千人と日本館の中でもトップクラスの人気で、鶴岡市と鶴岡の食文化の存在感をアピールし、観光誘客の推進や食材と食関連産業の海外展開の促進につなげました。またミラノのレストランやイタリア・ブラの食科学大学、フランス・パリ等においても様々なプロモーションを展開しています。


Tsuruoka is located on the shores of the Sea of Japan in Yamagata Prefecture. It has the largest land area of any city in the Tohoku region. It abounds with varied geographical features including mountains which rise to a height of around 2,000 metres, plains, rivers, and the ocean. In keeping with its future vision of becoming a “Food Utopia,” Tsuruoka is handing down traditions derived from both its rich food culture and ancient spiritual cultures, including 60 types of heirloom plants, foods for special events, and the Shugendo religion at the Three Mountains of Dewa. Efforts to share these delicious and intriguing aspects of its heritage are also connected with local human resource development and the invigoration of the region.

Tsuruoka was designated Japan’s first Creative City of Gastronomy in December 2014.

URL: www.tsuruokagastronomy.com




URL: www.creative-tsuruoka.jp