Shinise (XVII): Nishisaka
Sakai City, located in the northern part of Fukui Prefecture, was established in 2006 (The 18th year of the Heisei era) through the merger of four towns: Sakai, Harue, Maruoka, and Mikuni. Each town brings its unique history and culture to the city, creating a vibrant and diverse community.
During the Edo period, a significant portion of the region belonged to Maruoka Domain, which greatly influenced the development of Sakai City. In particular, Mikuni Port, now part of Fukui Port, flourished as a bustling port for Kitamaebune ships. These ships played a vital role in trade along the Sea of Japan coast, connecting Fukui with other regions and contributing to the local economy.
Sakai City is well-known for its exceptional local produce and specialty products. The fertile land and favorable climate make it an ideal region for agriculture. Koshihikari rice, renowned for its premium quality and flavor, is one of the area's notable crops. The rich and fertile soil also yields delicious pickled radishes known as rakkio, flavorful tomatoes called Koshi no Ruby, and various other fresh vegetables that grace the tables of households and restaurants alike.
The city takes pride in its culinary traditions and boasts a range of tantalizing regional dishes. Wakasa beef, raised with utmost care and dedication, offers a tender and succulent dining experience. Echizen crabs, prized for their sweet and delicate meat, are harvested from the nearby Sea of Japan, while the sweet shrimp captivate seafood enthusiasts with their delightful taste. For those who appreciate the subtle umami flavors of the sea, locally harvested seaweed, such as momiwakame, is a cherished ingredient in soups and various dishes.
In Sakai City, the traditions of old are kept alive through its long-standing restaurants, traditional Japanese confectionery shops, and food stores. These establishments have nurtured their craft over generations, preserving the rich culinary heritage of the region.
Nishisaka——Found in 1921
Nishisaka, a traditional Japanese confectionery shop, was established in 1921 (The 10th year of the Taisho era) by Nishisaka Chojiro and his wife Kiyoshi. It is located just a 3-minute walk from Mikuni Station and approximately a 40-minute drive from Fukui Station. The shop specializes in producing and selling renowned local delicacies.
The most famous specialty is sake manju, whose origin can be traced back to the Edo period when Mikuni Port served as a crucial hub for Kitamaebune ships on the Sea of Japan trading route. During their extended stays at Mikuni Port, the captains of the Kitamaebune ships shared the brewing techniques for sake manju with the local residents. Its exceptional taste garnered immediate acclaim, described by locals as "so delicious that it makes your cheeks tingle." This led to a surge in popularity, with several 'sakemanjuya' (sake manju shops) being established in Mikuni.
Thanks to the knowledge passed down from the captains and the availability of ingredients transported through Osaka, sake manju became a beloved local specialty in Mikuni. Today, sake manju is still widely available in numerous shops throughout Mikuni. Each shop puts its own unique branding mark on the sake manju, often utilizing a character from the founder's name or the store's name. For example, at Nishisaka, their sake manju carries the prominent branding mark "長" (Naga), which originates from the name of the founder, Nagaichiro.
Sake manju is made using rice malt and mochi rice, fermenting them naturally to create a unique flavor. Afterwards, the smooth bean paste is wrapped in matured dough and undergoes fermentation. Nishisaka's sake manju is a genuine delicacy where the mild flavor of sweet sake and the mellow bean paste harmoniously blend within the fragrant and crispy outer layer.
Address: 4-2-14 Kitamotocho Kita, Mikuni, Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture
photo from: https://www.nisisaka.com/ Nishisaka 8/21/2023