Craftsmen of Shimane

[Okatomi Shoten] Tennyo no Hagoromo (Heavenly Maiden Robe) The radiant “Big Oda conger eel”

~Revitalizing the Region with the Highest Fish Catch in Japan~


Okatomi Shoten Shoichiro Okada

Oda City in Shimane Prefecture, home to the World Heritage site Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, faces the Sea of Japan and has a long history of thriving fisheries. Employing a traditional fishing method known as ‘Ichinichi-gyo (one-day fishing)’ that takes advantage of its freshness by preserving the fish with only natural salt.
Born and raised in this port town, Mr. Okada became the third-generation president of a dried fish maker. What is he attempting to do in the middle of the mist of an era where there is a growing disinterest in fish among Japanese consumers?
We talked about the appeal of seafood from the Sea of Japan and dried fish such as big conger eel, which are made with the highest level of freshness.

Okatomi Shoten The attractiveness of their dried fish and processed fish products

Tell us what is great about Okatomi Shoten's products.
We have three commitments.
The first is the 'raw ingredient’
We purchase mainly fresh local fish (raw ingredient) caught by one-day fishing system and make them into dried fish in our own facilities.
The second is "salt."
Our dried fish is made of fish and salt only; no preservatives or colorings are used. Therefore, we are particular about not only the fish but also the salt. Sun-dried salt or regular salt are used depending on the type of dried fish.
The second is "salt."
Our dried fish is made of fish and salt only; no preservatives or colorings are used. Therefore, we are particular about not only the fish but also the salt. Sun-dried salt or regular salt are used depending on the type of dried fish.
Have you received any message from a customer that left an impression on you?
People often praise that the fish are processed neatly and the dried fish do not have fishy smell. I am happy to hear such comments because our fish is fresh, handled by skilled craftsmen and carefully processed by hand.
What are you most looking forward to as the third-generation president from this year?
Although I don’t feel much about being the president, but I do aim to preserve the good aspects of our traditional manufacturing method while addressing the issue of decline in fish consumption at home, which often attributed to a growing disinterest in fish. I am approaching this issue by making adjustment.
These days, we are devising not only the product itself but also packaging and PR plans.
In particular, we are hoping to make the products accessible to women. We have devised product packaging with a female and parental perspective in mind.
Furthermore, opportunities exist in the new tools such as SNS and Internet to spread our information nationwide; so, I would like to use them and appeal to consumers effectively.

The catch of conger eels is the largest in Japan

In Oda City, there are 32 restaurants serving conger eel dishes; what made it popular in Oda?
It all started when I was talking to someone from outside the prefecture and he said, "I didn't know you could catch so many conger eels in Oda!" We took it for granted that conger eel was available in the market, but when I looked into it, I discovered that the catch was the largest in the country. They are large and tasty, so I decided to brand conger eels and here I am.
As our company specialized in dried fish, we experimented making conger eels into dried fish and, through trial and error, we are convinced that they are very delicious as dried fish as well. So we thought this could be a good idea and are continuing to work on it.
I have heard you have been promoting conger eels in various places, including the Chamber of Commerce and restaurants in the city.
In the past, individual business efforts were the main focus; but through the common ground conger eels, I feel a sense of unity forming.
In regards to how to eat conger eels, there are various cooking recipes, dishes, and restaurants available such as conger eel rice bowls and sushi. I encourage people to explore and find their own favorite conger eel gourmets.

About Okatomi Shoten

The large white conger eels that have gone through washing and drying processes are from their appearance, given a product name “Tennyo no Hagoromo (Heavenly Maiden Robe).” They are beautiful and delicious.
Conger eels are highly nutritious and contain rich protein, potassium, vitamin A, and calcium. Especially their vitamin A content is a top class among seafood! They are also receiving attention as a gourmet for skin-beauty because Shimane is known as the prefecture with high ratio of people with beautiful skin.

Here in the city area of Oda, people can enjoy a variety of gourmet, such as conger eel tempura or bowls with huge conger eel kabayaki that sure should impress you.
Okatomi Shoten is also putting emphasis on online shopping; you can choose from a wide variety of products such as dried fish made of fresh conger eel, blackthroat seaperch, white squid, and flounder as well as various delicacies including Shiokara (salted and cured squid).