By Kenichi Osuga / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterNUMAZU, Shizuoka — Cups of gourmet food items produced in the Izu Peninsula region in Shizuoka Prefecture are being sold in cities and towns across the peninsula, proving to be a good snack to enjoy while traveling around Izu.
Utsukushii Izu Sozo Center (Izu Development Association) comprising seven cities and six towns is promoting the Izu Cup Gourmet project by serving area specialties in plastic cups at places dotted around the peninsula. It’s a way for the municipalities to promote the foods they produce, such as melon from Atami, deep-sea fish from Numazu and honey from Kawazu. Twenty-two shops from 12 cities and towns are participating.
“We’ll encourage more shops to take part in the project to attract tourists to the peninsula,” said a staff member in charge at the center.
According to the center, visitors to Izu tend to head to certain destinations such as the Atami spa resort and the Minamiizu area, and few people actually take a wander around the peninsula. It has been a long-term challenge to vitalize the economy of the entire Izu area by encouraging tourists to extend their visit to the whole peninsula.
In fiscal 2015, the center began researching what would be necessary for tourists to make a round trip and learned that many people visit the peninsula by car.
“We thought tourists would make a circuit tour if they could enjoy local gourmet food while driving through Izu,” the staff member at the center said.
The center decided to use a cup to contain the food items so tourists could eat them in the car, and through municipalities it solicited shops that could provide food in small containers. The center then made a handy B4-size route map with information on the 22 participating shops and began selling the cups with the catch phrase “Izu Cup special treat itinerary!” on Nov. 1 last year.
In Numazu, four shops participate, each serving matcha soft-serve ice cream floats using Ashitaka brand tea, deep-fried mehikari greeneye fish brought in at Numazu Port, salad with crunchy-fried sakura shrimp and boiled shirasu whitebait, and deep-sea fish dishes.
Three shops in the city of Izu provide cups of soft-serve ice cream with fruit topped with gold leaf, inspired by the local Toi gold mine, wasabi soft-serve ice cream, and venison dishes.
Tourists can also purchase horse mackerel croquettes in Ito, yogurt floats with soft-serve ice cream made from the local brand Tanna Milk in Kannami, and tokoroten jelly parfait in Nishiizu.
Most of the products are priced between ¥400 and ¥500 per cup.
“Izu is full of food resources. Many tourists come to the peninsula by car, so serving the food in a cup like fast food means they can purchase them easily. We’ll keep inviting participating shops to link all the cities and towns on the peninsula together through Izu Cup Gourmet,” the staff member at the center said.
The project continues through March 31. For more information about participating shops and prices, visit Izu Cup Gourmet official website at http://izu.cupgourmet.jp
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