Photo by Roger Smith
Photo by Brian Takahashi
Photo by Koei Suisan
February 1, 2019
On the edge of the Isozaki Harbor in Matsushima sits a small family-run seafood store called Koei Suisan. It is owned and operated by Matsushima local Yukinobu Takahashi. Every year during oyster season (mid-October to mid-March), Yukinobu and his staff take their boat out in the frigid early mornings to check the oyster lines and harvest. They catch and harvest the other seafood they sell at the shop as well—crabs, eels, mussels, seaweed, and more.
On any given day during the season, you can watch them separate oysters. You can get yakigaki (grilled oysters), or bags of fresh oysters in various sizes. If you get yakigaki, they will cook them for you personally and will make sure it is cooked thoroughly. If you ask Yukinobu though, he will tell you they are best eaten raw. You can eat some at the store during their food service hours on weekends. If you are visiting from elsewhere in Japan, you can use the courier service to ship a box directly to your house.
Koei Suisan is where my family and I buy our oysters. Head there in morning (around 9 a.m.) to score some from the day’s first batch of oysters. Don’t be afraid to ask if the oysters should be cooked or not. The prefecture continuously monitors oysters for food safety, and at times they recommend eating the oysters cooked (kanetsu) and not raw (nama).