There is a district named “Ikenohata-2-chome” along the Sinobazu Street on the north-west side of the Shinobazu-Pond. There used to be a marshy land on the side of the pond.
A samurai warrior and 6 merchants jointly reclaimed the ground and constructed their houses there in Genroku Era during Edo Period (1688 to 1704).
Thus a cluster of seven households was formed as residential quarters. Since then people called the quarter “Ikenohata Shichiken-Cho” that literally means a community of “7 households” on the side of the pond. The name is originated in the form of the settlement.
“Shichiken-Cho” is familiar to me and can recall that I had often visited my friend living there in my younger days. I regret that the good old and memorial name has changed for “Ikenohata-2-chome” because of the land readjustment project being implemented by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government around 50 years ago.
There is a meal catering service named “Yushima Oogi” whose headquarter, galley and sales stall are located at the back of Shinobazu-Street.
The catered meals by them are beautifully assorted in fancy packages. We can enjoy the flavor of the meal with a visual pleasure. They are qualified purveyor to sales sections in several well-known department stores in Tokyo. The packed meals are loved as a luncheon by audiences in the theaters of Japanese traditional art such as Japanese classical dancing,Kabuki play, Noh play, and Tea ceremony party.
The stall of “Yushima Oogi” stands facing a side street branching out of the main street.
The appearance of the stall is very tiny and modest. I have often bought their lunch box at the time of having visitors and special events in my family. Our visitors, family and friends including myself always enjoy such lunch. They are one of my favorite shop of meal caterer in my neighborhood I like to taste Sushi Lunch Box being cooked with rice and various ingredients such as fish flesh and vegetables which are elaborately prepared with vinegar and also seasoned with soya sauce, sugar, Japanese wine etc.
The vinegared food could give us a refreshing feeling in current fatty dietary life and sharpen our appetite. I desperately want to savor the taste occasionally.
Vinegar is said to be effective to prevent the growth of bacteria from old days and so it has been utilized for the preservation of a food as well as seasoning. It is said that the vinegar was applied as antiseptic agent for the pickled vegetables which sailors ate to prevent scurvy caused by lack of vitamin C during the long voyages in the Age of Discovery (15 to 17 centuries).
Among various lunch boxes sold by “Yushima Oogi”, I love “Sasa-Maki-Sushi” and “Kyo-Chirashi-Sushi” the best
6 pieces of Sasa-Maki-Sushi are neatly packed in square box.
Each piece is forming oblong mounds of vinegared rice being topped with precooked ingredients such as a sea bream or a shrimp or shiitake-mushrooms or bamboo shoots or julienne strips of pickled radish or the mixture of a pickled plum and dried bonito shavings.
All pieces are beautifully wrapped with wild bamboo leaves and are tied up with gold-colored straps.
Spreading the bamboo leaves we could feel a streak of wildness. Once tasting a piece, flavor of vinegar spreads in the mouth and then stimulates secretion of saliva. It would surely whets our appetite for another piece.
We are able to easily carry the compact package and to conveniently eat each piece in one mouthful. In addition we can expect a preventive effect of decay because of the vinegar treatment. Sasa-Maki sushi is one of heathy Japanese cuisine.
Kyo-Chirashi-Sushi is wrapped with refined and fancy packing material named“Hanaguruma”.
The opening of the package is presenting 12 numbers of flabellate creases which might evoke images of Japanese paper holding art.
Opening the package, gold or silver colored wrapping paper spreads over as if Kyoto-style fan is unfolded, and refined flavor of vinegar rises in the air.
And then a cylindrically formed chunk of vinegared rice comes out at the center on the wrapping paper. It is covered with yellow julienne strips of omelet and thereon is topped with colorful ingredients such as an impressive reddish purple lotus root, a pale pink shrimp, a beige bamboo shoot, a dark brown burdock, a deep brown shiitake-mushroom, a gold colored chestnut,light brown shredded fried bean curds, pale pink shredded gingers, pinkish mashed fish flesh and etc.
We are surely impressed at beautiful chromatic arrangement and also at nice assortment of ingredients.
Kyo-Chirashi-Sushi has other version called “Anago-Chirashi-Sushi” A chunk of vinegared rice is decorated with black seaweed laver and then is topped with several slices of grilled conger eel, smashed shrimp flesh and julienne strips of gingers. “Anago” stands for conger eel which offers very tender texture with sweet taste.
It is indeed an enjoyable moment when I open the package of “Kyo-Chirashi-Sushi” and “Anago-Chirashi-Sushi”.
Yushima-Oogi have been operating their catering business at current Ikenohata-2-chome” since 1967. Their predecessor had originally established the head quarter at Yushima district which is hundred meters away from the current site. They had been operating several traditional Japanese-style restaurants called Ryotei in and around Tokyo.
It is reported that the founder’s wife of “Yushima Oogi” initially designed and produced “Sasa-Maki-Sushi” modeled after a local specialty of Niigata Prefecture named “Sasa-Sushi” which was said to be a field ration being eaten by feudal lords in battle field during the Age of Civil Wars.
And also she had adopted “Hanaguruma” for the package of “Kyo-Chirashi-Sushi” with inspiration from Japanese paper folding fan which has been used as an ornament for Japanese traditional dance since she was familiar with that field.
The spreading of folding fan forms a flabellate shape called “Suehirogari”in Japanese which is believed to be good luck from ancient times. Since the opened shape shows to widen toward the end or to enjoy increasing prosperity as time goes on.
“Sasa-Maki-Sushi” is made to be one-bite size. We can pick it up to taste like a sandwich without using chopsticks. “Kyo-Chirashi-Sushi” is easy to carry. Both are suitable for lunch box picnic.
Cherry trees will bloom flowers late March. Ueno-Park and the area around Shinobazu-Pond are fully covered with cherry blossom. It will become the best season in a year. Let’s go there to view pinkish clusters of the flowers, bringing fancy lunch boxes ”Sasa-Maki-Sushi” and “Kyo-Chirashi-Sushi”.
And how about tasting a Japanese traditional flavor under the cherry trees and enjoying beautiful Japanese spring in a gentle breeze.
Pictures are courtesy of Yushima Oogi.
2-6-6, Ikenohata, Taitoh-Ku, Tokyo
9:00-18:00 for booking order of catering.
Holiday: Year around
Trade Mark: Ooji(Fan)
・Yushima Oogi Sales Stall in Ikenohata
（Sales during lunch time）
・Mitsukoshi Department Store in Nihonnbashi
・Takashimaya Department Store in Shinjyuku
・Odakyu Department Store in Shinjyuku
・Matsuzakaya Department Store in Ginza
・Tsukushinnbo , Branch of Yushima Oogi in Ginza