名物料理 (meibutsu ryouri): local specialty
長野に、何をした？善光寺？ <What’d ya do in Nagano? Go to Zenkôji?>
はい、それと地獄谷の猿に見に行きました。 <Yes, and I also went to see the monkeys at Jigokudani.>
温泉に入るさるやね。ああ、長野に、何を食べた？<The onsen monkeys, right? Oh, what’d you eat there?>
そうですね。。。そばとそば茶とそばまんじゅうとリンゴ。。。<Let’s see–soba, soba manjû, soba tea, shichimi, apples…>
おやきは？ <Did you try oyaki?>
Regional and seasonal food in Japan is Serious Business.™ When I go on trips, I try to make a point of eating the regional specialties. Nagano is famous for a lot of delicious things. I bought the most delicious and cheapest of apples I’ve had in Japan at a stand with a cash box outside Zenkôji in Nagano City–4 for 200 yen! I discovered that Nagano actually has apricots, which are scanty and expensive in my region. I tried the regional Kit Kat flavors: shichimi, “seven-spice,” and apple.
Nagano is also famous for Shinshuu soba (信州, the name of the former province to which Nagano belonged). In addition to soba noodles, there’s soba ice cream, Western pasta made with soba, and soba tea. I had some lovely soba manjû, a sweet with a buckwheat-noodle-based “skin” around sweet red-bean paste, and oyaki, which is like a manjû but made with soba. I had savory vegetable and kabocha oyaki as well as a sweet apple one.