An offbeat theme park dedicated to spicy fish eggs
In the world of Japanese cuisine, there are many unique and delicious dishes that have gained international recognition. One such dish is mentaiko, which is spicy-seasoned cod roe. Mentaiko is used in a variety of ways in Japanese cooking, including as a filling for rice balls. It is a delicacy that has captured the hearts and taste buds of many people around the world.
Major Japanese mentaiko maker Kanefuku is known for its passion for the spicy roe. This passion has led the company to open a theme park and education center called Oarai Mentai Park. The park aims to share the love for mentaiko with the world and educate visitors about this unique Japanese delicacy.
Located in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, Oarai Mentai Park is easily accessible via Oarai Station. The station is on the Kashima Rinkai Railway Oarai Kashima Line. From Mito Station, you can take the Oarai Kashima Line and reach Oarai Station in just 20 minutes. Once you arrive at Oarai Station, it’s a short 20-minute walk to the park or a quick two-minute taxi ride. If you prefer to drive, you can take the Kitakanto Expressway from Tomobe junction in the direction of Hitachinaka. After driving for about 10 minutes from Mito Oarai interchange, you will reach Oarai Mentai Park.
Oarai Mentai Park is not your typical theme park. Instead of thrilling rides and roller coasters, the park offers a unique and educational experience centered around mentaiko. As one of the six mentaiko parks in japan, it is dedicated to showcasing the process of making mentaiko and providing visitors with a deeper understanding of this beloved delicacy.
Upon approaching the park, visitors will be greeted by a giant mentaiko on the roof. This giant mentaiko is named Tarapiyo and is one of several delightful mentaiko characters you will encounter at the park. Oarai Mentai Park is actually Kanefuku’s Oarai factory, where more than five tons of mentaiko are produced every day. The factory has around 100 workers who meticulously process the roe from the first stage to the last. Visitors can witness the production process through a huge glass wall, allowing them to see how the spicy roe is transformed into the delicious delicacy that it is.
The park also offers interactive features that make the learning experience fun and engaging, especially for children. There is an interactive floor projection that creates the illusion of walking on a fish pond, adding an element of excitement to the visit. Additionally, there are stalls where visitors can try various mentaiko-based foods and purchase souvenirs. The mentaiko foods available include onigiri (rice balls), dumplings, and even ice cream. The best part is that entry to Mentai Park Oarai is free, making it an affordable and enjoyable outing for everyone.
After exploring Oarai Mentai Park and satisfying your mentaiko cravings, there are other nearby attractions worth visiting. One such attraction is Hitachi Seaside Park, which offers stunning flower displays throughout the year. Oarai Aquarium is another popular destination, where visitors can get up close and personal with various marine creatures. During the summer, Oarai Beach is the perfect spot to relax and soak up some sun. If you’re interested in exploring further, you can take the Oarai Kashima Line to Mito, a city known for its natto, a traditional Japanese fermented soybean dish. On the other hand, heading in the opposite direction will take you to Kashima, home of the Kashima Antlers, one of Japan’s most successful professional soccer clubs.
In conclusion, Oarai Mentai Park is a one-of-a-kind theme park that celebrates the love for mentaiko. It offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the production process of this unique Japanese delicacy and indulge in various mentaiko-based dishes. Whether you’re a fan of spicy food or simply curious about Japanese cuisine, a visit to Oarai Mentai Park is sure to be a memorable and flavorful experience. So, make your way to Ibaraki Prefecture and embark on a journey to discover the spicy and delicious world of mentaiko.
Address And Maps Location:
8255-3 Isohama-cho, Oarai-machi, Higashiibaraki-gun, Ibaraki-ken