Overview

With its long coastline, interior mountains and international port cities, Kanagawa Prefecture is a surprisingly rich haven of varied cuisines and cultural influences. Seafood dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients are prized here, pious foods representative of the nation's Buddhist history feature while the port cities and their connection with the outside world helped in developing new and exciting foods that are now beloved by the nation. Here is a simple guide to some of the regional cuisine of Kanagawa.

Shirasu-don

Tiny young sardines served on a bed of rice, shirasu-don is one of Kanagawa's most famous dishes, particularly the Kamakura area. Sometimes mixed with other seafood toppings, the dish comes in two main varieties, one with the refined taste of fluffy boiled shirasu, and the other raw with a chewy texture and deeper flavour.

Shirasu-don (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/95962563@N02/15849595775" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">wellflat . / CC BY 2.0</a>)
Shirasu-don (Photo: wellflat . / CC BY 2.0)

Kaigun Curry

The long time naval base of Yokosuka saw the adoption of curry from British servicemen by Japanese naval men. Adapted to local tastes, the kaigun curry, or naval curry, has a thicker texture and makes a decent use of meat and vegetables. Now a staple of the area, kaigun curry was the beginning of curry culture in Japan.

Kaigun naval curry (Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beef_curry_rice_003.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Ocdp / CC0 1.0</a>)
Kaigun naval curry (Photo: Ocdp / CC0 1.0)

Gyu-nabe Beef Hotpot

The international port city of Yokohama saw the introduction of beef into Japan. Suiting local sensibilities, the beef was sliced thin, mixed with vegetables and simmered gently in a miso-based hotpot full of rich flavours. One of the city's most popular foods, the dish inspired other hotpot style Japanese foods.

Gyu-nabe beef hotpot (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/h4ck/3105079080/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">cipher / CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Gyu-nabe beef hotpot (Photo: cipher / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Kencho jiru

The origin of the kenchin-jiru vegetable soup, kencho-jiru is part of the traditional Buddhist vegan cuisine known as shojin ryori. Named after Kencho-ji Temple, this kombu kelp-based broth features a satisfyingly hearty combination of shiitake mushrooms, daikon radish, carrots, burdock and taro roots as well as konjac jelly.

Kencho-jiru vegetable soup (Photo: <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kenchinjiru_soy_sauce_flavor_2009.JPG" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">User:Kentin / CC BY-SA 3.0</a>)
Kencho-jiru vegetable soup (Photo: User:Kentin / CC BY-SA 3.0)