Hidden stories of oysters in Matsushima Bay|Port of Sendai-Shiogama Promotion Association

Hidden stories of oysters in Matsushima Bay

  • 2021.12.23

Oysters season has arrived and many people may have already enjoyed them.

In particular, oysters in Matsushima Bay would have an exquisite flavor and tastes good for eating in raw.

Oysters have already eaten in Japan since Jomon periods (4th century BC) and during Roman

periods in Europe, as it was known as “sea milk”, and it may have been an important nutritional supplement.

Japanese people could enjoy oysters in various ways of cooking such as fried, raw, hot pot, butter stir-fried and etc. There will be no countries that enjoy oysters as much as Japanese.

There is a story little known about oysters. One of them is that oysters farming in Japan started at Urato islands in Matsushima Bay of Shiogama city. It is said that in 1600’s, Utsumi Shozaemon who use to live in Nonojima, Urato islands found many of oysters in surrounding water and he decided not just to collect them but also to scatter baby oysters for reproduction and it was the beginning of oyster farming in Japan.

The other story is the friendship between Japan and France. French people, including Louis XIV, known as Louis the Sun King of the Bourbon dynasty, was one of the most oysters’ lovers in the world. Bretagne in France was famous for the oyster farming which is the opposite side of England, in 1960, oysters in the farm were endangered due to the spread of shellfish disease. They brought baby oysters from all over the world and tried to settle them, unfortunately most of their attempts were failed except for baby oyster from Matsushima Bay in 1966. They were settled in Bretagne Ocean perfectly and have been survived until now. Therefore, both oysters in Bretagne and Matsushima have same DNA.

Many of oyster framings in Matsushima Bay were devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. France provided us many supports, including donations and materials for restarting. We are really bonded by oysters.

Many foreign countries love raw oyster on the half shell, but I believe that fried oyster is unique to Japan and the best recipe.

French may say that white wine by Chablis is the best match to raw oysters. But there is nothing better than Japanese Sake which refreshes our mouth completely  from eating oysters. It would be one of a Japanese wisdom who have eaten raw fishes (Sashimi) since ancient times.


Oysters from Matsushima Bay and the local Sake, Urakasumi or Abe-Kan would be the best combinations and I would like to introduce them to pretty Parisienne in France!