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Wappani Campfire Cooking on Awashima Island

Niigata Prefecture

On the tiny island of Awashima off the coast of Niigata Prefecture is a delicious campfire cuisine that is made entirely from the natural resources of the island.

This form of cooking known as wappani is a stew that consists of local fish mixed with miso and freshly sliced onions cooked in a cedar bowl called wappa. This dish is made with two stages of cooking which includes open-fire grilling and boiling with heated rocks placed directly into the bowls.

This stew is made entirely with resources found naturally on the island. This starts off with gathering some of the abundant driftwood found naturally across this island.

You may arrange this wood into a campfire at approved campsite locations found across the island.

The fish as well can be caught from the beaches here and there are no strict rules for the type of fish that can be used in wappani. In fact, the flavor of this dish varies greatly depending on the type of fish used!

The fish is skewered on bamboo sticks and placed over the driftwood campfire where it is thoroughly grilled.

This campfire also serves to boil a pot of water and also super heat some of the heat-resistant basalt rocks that can be found all over the island.

Once the fish is cooked, it is placed in the wappa bowls with miso paste. Boiling water is then poured into this bowl and creates a rich miso broth.

For the next step, stones from the campfire are quickly dipped in water and then placed directly into the bowls. This causes the water to boil violently and helps bring the flavors of the soup together and keeps the broth nice and hot.

Fresh onions grown on the island are then added to the dish and it is ready to be eaten as soon as it cools down!

Awashima Island can be reached via a ferry that departs from Murakami City in Niigata Prefecture. Here is the Japanese site for ticket information.

You may contact the Awashima Tourist Association for more information on how to enjoy wappani during you visit. 

Derek Yamashita

Derek Yamashita

The Hidden Japan Creative Director. Following his passion to connect with his roots as a Japanese American, Derek started a life in Japan after college living in the deep countryside of Yamagata Prefecture. Falling in love with the trails, cycling courses, fishing and all that the countryside had to offer, Derek co-founded a travel company called The Hidden Japan in 2018. The Hidden Japan focuses on promoting the deeper sides of Japan beyond the big cities by working closely with rural communities to offer order-made boutique tours letting travelers experience Japan alongside the local people.


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