Gibier (Jibi-eh!) is the French word for animals that are hunted for their meat. Also called game, these include animals such as deer, wild boar, pheasants and bears. Nagano’s mountainous regions are home to many of these animals, and have a long history of wild game hunting, particularly in Akiyamago and Oshika-mura (literally: big deer village).
While game meats have had a bad reputation in Japan in modern times, they are making a comeback in Nagano with support from local restaurants and organizations. The government has created strict guidelines for handling and processing of game, and restaurants have been hard at work inventing new and exciting recipes for the occasion.
Why choose Gibier?
- It is a healthy alternative to common cuts of meat, with lower fat and higher mineral content than pork, chicken or beef.
- It is a local and sustainable food resource.
- In fact, there are too many deer in Nagano–they have wreaked havoc upon its farmland and forests, causing hundreds of millions of yen worth of damage. Yikes!!
The Nagano Gibier Festival (Nov. 15th to Feb. 15th, 2016)
This winter, Nagano city is hosting a Gibier festival to promote its growing wild game industry and food. Local restaurants have created their own deer and wild boar dishes in a myriad of styles, including French, Japanese and fusion. Many stores in Nagano station’s Midori area are also selling Gibier products, so take a look when you’re visiting this winter! ( just don’t try to bring any meat back home with you . . . )
Here are a few places you should check out if you’re interested in trying Nagano’s game meat cuisine:
One of the first places you’ll find when you arrive at Nagano station. Heading to the Zenko-ji exit of the station, turn left into Midori and head straight through the souvenir stands to the next area. The Kuraudo bar is by the staircase. They serve local sake tasting sets and Gibier snacks to accompany them.
This small diagonal street in downtown Nagano city is lined with izakaya pubs and restaurants. Quite a few of them are participating in the Gibier festival and have prepared special dishes for the occasion. Some items include roast boar, deer shumai dumplings, and boar simmered in miso. You can restaurant hop to try several dishes, and if you collect stamps from three places you’ll get a special souvenir.(Shimanryo street in Google Maps)
World Trek Diner and Guesthouse Pise
Once Nagano’s Asian Night Market, this place has gone through several renovations and renewals by its eccentric owner, Sanbo-san. In addition to being a lifelong ski bum and traveler, he is also certified to hunt his own game meat and serves it in his restaurant. Depending on the catch, the menu may include deer curry or wild boar stew.(Vegetarian dishes are also available.)
Eating Wild Game throughout Nagano
There are many places throughout Nagano that serve Gibier products. Even if you’re visiting after the festival has ended, or live in Nagano prefecture and don’t have chances to come up north, there are plenty of other places that serve such products year-round. Check out some of these other places below:
|Name:||Gotoku-tei 信州の御馳走処 ごとく亭 権堂店|
|Address:||2223-1 Tsuruga, Nagano city長野県長野市鶴賀権堂町2223－1|
|This restaurant has two locations, one in a side street near Nagano station, and another one in the Gondo arcade. Gotoku-tei serves traditional cuisine and some items that you may not want translated into English before you eat them. But they also serve gibier dishes as well. Whatever you order, it’s sure to be a memorable experience!|
|Name:||Espoir de Maison エスポワール|
|Address:||Chuo kogen, Tateshina, Chino city, Nagano-ken〒391-0301長野県茅野市北山蓼科中央高原|
|For gourmet wild game and French cuisine, look no further than Auberge Espoir. In the beautiful groves of Tateshina heights.http://www.auberge-espoir.com/|
|Name:||Hoshinoya 山肉専門店 星野屋|
|Address:||1080 Minamishinano Wada, Iida city, Nagano-ken長野県飯田市南信濃和田1080|
|This restaurant specializes in Gibier cuisine. It’s game menu includes the following dishes:
|Name:||Banya 飲食処 ばんや|
|Address:||2-1-4 Ote, Suwa city, Nagano-ken長野県諏訪市大手2-1-4 大津屋ビル1階|
|Near Kamisuwa station in the Suwa region of Nagano.
And that about covers it. So if you have a chance, visit Nagano city or one of these Gibier-specialty restaurants and try Nagano’s new gourmet food!