Surrounded by the sea, the weather in Japan is not very extreme but summer is still hot and humid. Japanese have developed their own refreshment to keep themselves cool in the boiling summer. Here are some of the best ones that you can enjoy in Asakura.
What can be better than sitting beside a flowing stream while having fresh local food in the hot and humid summer season? Kawadoko is a traditional Japanese restaurant style where platforms are built beside or over a river, where people can enjoy the meal surrounded by the tranquil nature and the sound of river flow.
From May to September this kind of restaurant is very popular especially in Kyoto. As Akizuki in Asakura is called “Little Kyoto”, there is one kawadoko restaurant called Dangoan nearby as well. It has more than 100 years of history, providing snacks like Dango (Japanese sweet rice dumpling) or set meals centered on grilled masu salmon.
Another must-do thing in summer is “Flowing Somen”, which is thin noodles served in a flowing stream of cold water. This is both fun and delicious but you might want to practice your chopstick skills before trying as grabbing thin noodles from a flowing stream is not as easy as it may seem. Dangoan used to provide this dish in the past but paused it in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
196-2 Akizukinotori, Asakura, Fukuoka
Closes if weather is bad, and on Wednesdays except July and August.
*Reservation only on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays in winter
Among all those delicious Japanese cuisine, there are some foods especially popular in the summer. Kuzumochi has been a Japanese summer snack since a long time ago. The signature half-transparent appearance already makes it refreshing and cool. It’s served with kuromitsu (black sugar syrup) and kinako powder (roasted soy flour), adding more flavour to the jelly-like kuzumochi.
The main ingredient of kuzumochi is kuzu root starch, one of the traditional medicinal herbs that Japanese use for various dishes. It’s considered a superfood and has been used as an all-rounded medicine since a long time ago for improving digestion, blood circulation, the immune system, etc.
These days, kuzu root starch is often mixed with other ingredients to lower the cost. In Akizuki, Asakura, there is a shop called Hirokyu Kuzu Hompo, a famous kuzu maker founded in 1819 which still uses traditional methods to produce 100% kuzu root starch, and all the ingredients are locally sourced in Kyushu. You can taste the authentic kuzumochi here in the building with more than 260 years of history.
Hirokyu Kuzu Hompo
532 Akizuki, Asakura, Fukuoka
Opens everyday 08:00–17:00
After these two very Japanese ways to chill, here comes a more international one, beer. Although beer was not invented in Japan, it still has a long history here and is already part of Japanese life. Japan encountered beer for the first time in 1613 as part of imported goods that arrived in Nagasaki.
After the Meiji Restoration, Japan embraced more western culture including beer, and the first beer brewery was founded in 1869 in Yokohama, and beer culture bloomed soon after that with refrigerators becoming popular in households. Since then, beer has become one of Japanese favourite drinks on the dining table and an essential refreshment on summer days.
Kirin Beer, one of the biggest beer manufacturers in Japan, has its biggest brewery in Asia located here in Asakura because of the high quality water source. They started providing a renewed factory tour programme in October 2021, where visitors can learn more about the brewing process, tips and tricks to enjoy beer, and of course the best part is to taste the fresh beer from the tap. The tour is in Japanese only but if you know at least some basic Japanese and are interested in beer, it’s one of the must-do itineraries for a trip in Kyushu.
Kirin Beer Garden
Mada, Asakura, Fukuoka
Opens everyday 11:00–22:00
Tour hours: 10:00～15:00