The fermented soy beans dish known as natto is one of those foods which really divides opinion due to it’s smelliness and stickiness. My wife served it up (along with tofu) during the early days of living together and I haven’t looked back since. It is now an integral part of my daily diet as I eat it every morning and sometimes for lunch too but natto on toast is something I have only ever had once in the name of food science!!
Anyone who knows anything about this foodstuff will be aware that Mito in Ibaraki prefecture is the natto capital of Japan and the train station was full of souvenirs relating to the pungent sticky stuff. One thing I’ve not mentioned is that natto is very cheap and my local supermarket sells it for just ¥56….and that’s for three packets!! The idea of then paying ¥900+ for some wrapped in it’s traditional form of straw (above) was too much for me to put my hand in my pocket on what was a fairly expensive day trip.
We had a quick look around the station area which includes a couple of notable statues. On the north side (above) there’s one of Mito Komon (along with Suke-san and Kaku-san) who was known for his influence in the politics of the early Edo period. In stark contrast there is a natto statue (below) just outside the south exit!
The natto theme continued after we had watched local J2 team Mito Hollyhock kick off the new campaign. After passing a shop with a name to appeal to our childish and juvenile humour (below), we found an izakaya to while away a couple of hours before heading back to Tokyo. Tenmasa (2-1-1 Miyamachi) was located just a few minutes walk from the station and had an entire section of the menu dedicated to natto.
Our main choice was the nebari donburi (above) which consisted of okra, salmon roe, mushrooms, kelp, grated mountain potato, natto and a raw quail’s egg on a bed of rice. That was really nice and we also opted for small servings of natto maguro and natto kimchi (below). There was even some natto in the miso soup which accompanied our main dish, and that was all washed down with a few beers!
On the way back from the aforementioned football match we got off the bus a few stops before the station as we wanted to see the 100 metre tall Art Tower Mito (1-6-8 Goken-chō); a modern architectural design (below) which has been around since 1990 and can supposedly be recreated by folding a single sheet of paper. I’m hopeless at origami so will just take their word for it!
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