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Friday, September 30, 2016


Tropical storm Chaba is beginning to strengthen into a Category 3 typhoon, with a current path predicted to pass right over Naha (Okinawa) and Miyazaki (Kyushu).

Miyazaki, a prefecture of slightly more than a million people, located in the southeast corner of Japan, is a city no one visits.  Typhoons regularly come, but the damage is almost always minimal.  I don't know anyone, anywhere in the world, including Japan, who has slept a night in that city.  Why?  It is 542 miles away from Tokyo, the approximate distance from Los Angeles to Reno.  Plane or train?  Perhaps $350 and 10.5 hours by rail.  Drive?  $200 and 15 hours.  Then you need to double those parameters for the round trip back.  A Green Car Japan Rail Pass for one week costs $370.  Then you have six days to go anywhere you want, including Sapporo, something I've done a couple of times.  I've been to Miyazaki on at least five occasions, mostly on the Shinkansen with a transfer from Kagoshima-Chuo to Miyazaki.

I've gone mostly for the best beef in the world, Miyazaki Japanese Wagyu.  I was just there last month, but on my upcoming Fall bullet train adventure, will mostly spend time in the north.

A third of a century ago--this was in 1983, thus the brand name--the Soviet Union gifted the bester sturgeon to Miyazaki Prefecture as a symbol of friendship.  The Miyazaki Prefectural Fisheries Research Institute located in Kobayashi experimented with the production of caviar.  Eight years later, in 1991, they succeeded in crossbreeding beluga and Acipenser ruthenus. In 2004 they completed the life cycle of white sturgeon from North America, and this became the fish of choice:  Russia zero - America one.  In nature, they can get very large, the biggest ever caught, from Fraser River in British Columbia, weighed in at 1,100 pounds, measuring 12 feet 4 inches:

We all know that the egg is caviar, but most are not familiar with the flesh of the males or females after they are finished with egg-laying.  In Europe, it is known as Royal Fish, and in China, Emperor Fish.  As sturgeon can live for a hundred years, there is also the potential of immortality when you consume this delicacy.  This fish is high in carnosine, said to be effective for preventing dementia.

It takes eight years before a five-foot white sturgeon produces roe, with one laying worth $30,000.  The world caviar industry has mostly crumbled.  Miyazaki could well become the Iran and Russia of the world in the future of high quality caviar.  As recently as 2014 the total production was 132 pounds.  This will increase to 661 pounds this year.  Says Motoo Nakamoto of their caviar cooperative:
Our caviar tastes milder than imported eggs, and their texture is more smooth, like cream. If you have them with sake, it will be perfect.

I trust the prefectural leaders are now also contemplating growing truffles both white and black, and, as the world is quickly abandoning the farming of geese for foie gras, I can imagine how their scientists can develop a humane way to feed these birds to produce the best in the world.

Incidentally, there is also a very dangerous Hurricane Matthew at 120 MPH in the Caribbean, soon to threaten Jamaica, then Cuba:


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