Superior oysters are grown around the globe, but oyster farming in Japan is estimated to date back to the 16th century, giving the country a long recognized respect as a leader in aquaculture.
While here on the North Fork, and most of the eastern US, we cultivate the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica), several different oyster species are grown in Japan. Hiroshima Bay, the largest producer of oysters in Japan, currently cultivates Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas, and Crassostrea Nippona, a species native to Hiroshima Bay.
Using historical cultivation methods to shape today’s growing style, Japan’s oyster farmers evolved a method of hanging oysters in the sea from rafts.
This developed from an early cultivation method that attached bundles containing bamboo or twigs to branches which were then inserted into tidal flats. The oyster “babies” (larvae) would attach themselves to the branches and grow until harvest at 2-3 years of age.
From this style of growing, raised shelves were built that would hold suspended oysters over tidal flats.
Farming moved further offshore due to the reclamation of many of the tidal flats used for oyster growing, which led to today’s growing style.
In addition to its oyster farming legacy, Hiroshima is also home to many leading sake-makers. We will be featuring a sake & oyster pairing at our shop in Greenport on January 30th. Register here, or read this to learn more about sake.