Traditional Summer in Shiretoko Rausu: Kelp Harvesting

Our guesthouse in Rausu,  Shiretoko Serai’s  Nature guide, Shouhei Morita sent us a report from the 2021 Summer Season. It is actually not a wildlife report, but an article about ‘Local Foods’ of Rausu where we can introduce more about the bounties of the sea.

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Unfortunately, this year the Shiretoko summer season experienced a smaller catch of fish then usual.

Since kelp is harvested every 2 years, based on the growth rates from one year, the fishermen predicted that “Sadly, next year’s harvest will not yield very much.”

The harvest is conducted from late July to the end of August. During the kelp harvest, you can see the kelp lined up on the stone beach on the way to the Aidomari fishing port, only 25 minutes away from central Rausu by car. At its peak, the whole town is wrapped in the nice scent of kelp.

Rausu kelp, which is treated as the finest product in Japan, is carefully produced by hand for a majority of the 23 processes, with the whole family pitching in. The white powder on the surface of the kelp is not mold, but is another product. It is a sugar called Mannitol, which is sweet and umami ingredients.

One of the things that makes Rausu kelp special is this white powder on the surface. This year was a not a very good year, and only a small quantity of high quality kelp could be shipped out.

In recent years, kelp has finally been recognized world-wide. Rausu kelp contains plenty of marine minerals from Shiretoko. It is a unique sight of “Rausu’s fishing village,” where we can see the kelp being processed and harvested up close.

Photo & text: Shohei MORITA (Shiretoko Serai)

*Contact  us, Saiyu Travel for more information about wildlife and bird watching in Hokkaido. We can make various arrangements for your trip. We have a guesthouse, Shiretoko Serai, in Rausu, Shiretoko Peninsula.