Tucked in the center of Japan between Tokyo and Osaka is Mie Prefecture, a beautiful coastal oasis of preserved nature and Shinto holy sites. Known in the Chubu region for unique attractions such as Ise Shrine (the “Soul of Japan”), the Akame 48 Waterfalls, and the festive illuminations at Nabana no Sato, Mie holds an incredible number of sacred Japanese historical and cultural sites that shouldn’t be missed. And while you’re soaking up the breathtaking scenery, don’t forget to try some of Mie’s notoriously high-grade cuisine, like Matsusaka beef, Ise lobster, and Kumano chicken!
Here’s what to eat in Mie on your next trip to central Japan.
While you’re checking out those numerous Mie Prefecture points of interest, stop by a local fish market or seafood restaurant to try some famous Ise lobster! In the Edo period, Japanese locals celebrated the new year with Ise lobster, even making decorations with the prized lobster as an emblem.
For sturdier, sweeter lobster meat, pick up some freshly caught Ise Bay lobster when they’re in season, from October to April. You can enjoy this ocean treat in hearty grilled or steamed seafood dishes, as well as local Mie lobster sashimi!
When Japanese locals think of Mie Prefecture food, often what comes to mind first is the revered Matsusaka beef, one of Japan’s most high-end varieties of wagyu beef. With only 2500 Matsusaka cattle available annually, this beef is the epitome of luxury! The beautiful marbles of fat in Matsusaka beef tenderly melt in your mouth, pairing gorgeously with a deep umami flavor profile.
If this description has your mouth watering, why not book the Farm-to-Table Matsusaka Beef Sukiyaki at a Farmer’s Inn experience to indulge in authentic, home-grown vegetables and delicious Matsusaka sukiyaki?
Another scarce Mie delicacy is Kumano chicken—some of the reddest, richest chicken meat on the market! Mie Prefecture touts their poultry as “Japan’s most delicious, high-grade chicken,” producing the signature Kumano chicken, an ideal hybrid of both Mie-produced fowl and the similarly prized Nagoya Cochin. Chefs around the world praise the richness of Kumano chicken!
Ise is home to Mie’s most well-known attraction and sacred Shinto site, Ise Shrine. On your travels to this revered area, be sure to try Mie’s prefectural twist on one of the most classic Japanese dishes, udon!
Uniquely, Ise udon noodles are thicker and softer than those in standard udon, and the low amount of broth acts as more of a sweet soy-based dipping sauce for the noodles. It is believed that this dish originates from locals making an easy-to-digest meal for travelers who came a long way to worship at Ise Shrine—so don’t forget to sample some yourself!
You might be familiar with sweet red bean paste, or anko, used in many Japanese desserts; but have you ever had Mie’s traditional Japanese wagashi?
Akafuku wagashi, exclusive to Ise City, is an “inside out” treat made by wrapping smooth koshi-an red bean paste around a squishy mochi center. The unique shape symbolizes the cool water flowing through Isuzu River, and the white mochi center represents pebbles on the riverbank. The delicate craftsmanship and classical Japanese flavor make akafuku wagashi a great souvenir—as long as you eat them within two days!
As you travel Mie, you’ll surely work up an appetite for a more filling meal. Kameyama ramen, a recent specialty of Mie Prefecture, is the perfect dish for hungry travelers! Mushroom lovers will rejoice with this dish, made by topping miso ramen broth with oyster mushrooms, wood cauliflower mushrooms, and fried chicken mushrooms (or fried shimeji). Chefs use high-grade “nishi no kaori” flour from Mie to make the ramen noodles, lending even more uniqueness to this savory, rich miso-flavored delicacy!
Have you heard of chirashizushi, or Japanese vinegared rice bowls topped with scattered sushi ingredients? Mie Prefecture boasts its own local “hand-mixed” version, called tekone-zushi, an eclectic and surprisingly sugary dish usually made with katsuo skipjack tuna or regular tuna. The raw fish marinated in soy sauce pairs amazingly with unique Japanese herbs, making for a sweet and savory delight you can’t get anywhere but Mie! And tekone-zushi notoriously comes beautifully presented like a flower, making for a luxurious aesthetic experience and perfect photo op.
Tsu City, the capital of Mie Prefecture, is famous for its huge, meaty gyoza potstickers! Bigger, crispier, and juicier than any dumplings you’ve ever encountered, Tsu gyoza were invented by the educational board of Tsu to serve in school lunches. They’re so humongous that just one gyoza was thought to be sufficient to satisfy each child! Try these giant fried gyoza with 15 cm of diameter when you visit Mie—you won’t be disappointed.
Whether you’re a high-grade meat lover, a fan of unique seafood, or eager to stuff your face with massive dumplings, Mie’s the place to be. The cuisine of Mie reflects the deep appreciation for natural preservation and unforgettable quality of ingredients found throughout the prefecture. So next time you’re in central Japan, consult this guide on what to eat in Mie and try some of these unique regional favorites!