Karakai is one of Yamagata’s traditional dishes. It was the main dish for today’s cooking class. Those who have gathered are her students who have continued to take her classes for over twenty years, even after their children grew up. Karakai, which is always served at formal occasions, is made with ray fins, and it takes as long as three days to make.


Yamagata has many local dishes that are rooted in the local climate and natural features and have preserved the local culture. Such examples include natto jiru (miso soup made with natto), dashi stock made with plenty of summer vegetables, and imoni (potato and meat soup), which is well known in other parts of Japan as well. What Furuta describes as local ingredients that "are full of life" are a major component of the local dishes. Yamgata is blessed with Eleutherococcus, which is connected with the ruler of virtue Uesugi Yozan as well as edible wild plants, farm produce, marine products, and water which can only be found in the Tohoku region. Furuta proudly describes her book, Let's Make some Local Cuisine (Michinoku Shobo), which was published in 2005, as a crystallization of the recipes she came up with to date, and the content of the book is exactly that. The recipes in the book are those that she presented in a television program that was aired on NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), and all are made with local ingredients. This painstaking work, which has implemented local production for local consumption across Japan, is also a crystallization of the pride of Yamagata's producers.


What Furuta has always focused on is the future and the dietary environment of children. Well before laws were established, she had advocated the importance of dietary education, which was something that she did not only in Yamagata but in other prefectures as well. In 2009, she was awarded the Volunteer Award for the Promotion of Dietary Education by the Cabinet Office. It was the first year the award was given out. Each region needs its own guidelines for dietary education. Parents who live in Yamagata as well as those involved with food and education are blessed with a valuable local master.



Hisako Furuta

Hisako Furuta was born in Yamagata City in 1925. She is a graduate of Yamagata Daiichi Koto Jyogakko (Yamagata First Girl’s High School). She served as the principal of Yamagata Central Cooking School, honorary director of the East Japan Cooking School Association, the president of Rosehip Academy, and the former president of Yamagata Mogami Benibana no Kai (Association of the Finest safflower). She served two terms (eight years) for the Yamagata Municipal Board of Education.

Cooperation: Noriko Soma, Sayuri Imada, and Kumizen restaurant

Translation: Media Research, Inc.

Spirit and Spine

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