Tasty Keihan
Keihan as Served Local Amami-Ooshima Specialty -- Amami Ooshima, Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 30 mm — 1/90 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Keihan as Served
Local Amami-Ooshima Specialty

Fumie's grandmother was born and raised on Amami Ooshima, an island far in the south of Japan, part of a long drawn-out chain of islands that delimits the boarder between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The island's main local specialty mean is keihan, a shredded-chicken rice/soup dish.

Fumie's grandmother lived in the Kyoto area for 50+ years after WWII, but she kept her Amami roots and continued to prepare keihan for her family when she had one. Her daughter, then, having grown up with the dish, continued to prepare it for her own family when she had one. And thus, her daughter – my wife, Fumie – grew up with it.

As such, when our first trip to Amami was being planned, trying lots of authentic keihan was definitely on the itinerary. In fact, once we landed, we had it even before checking into the hotel.

(These pictures are from the next day's keihan, because the pictures came out better in the 2nd day's more photogenic setting)

Keihan is a soup, but it is served in its component parts. If you look like a tourist (and I think my camera pretty much made that clear), they'll ask whether you need instructions for how to eat it.

Toppings shredded chicken · scallions · shredded egg · dried seaweed · shiitake · mikan powder · etc. -- Amami Ooshima, Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Toppings
shredded chicken · scallions · shredded egg · dried seaweed · shiitake · mikan powder · etc.

You start with regular Japanese sticky white rice in a bowl, then add the toppings in whatever proportion you like. Then add soup...

Add soup -- Amami Ooshima, Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/2, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Add soup
Ready to Enjoy -- Amami Ooshima, Kagoshima, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Ready to Enjoy

There is ample variation in the toppings among restaurants, but the real difference is in the soup. Sometimes it's great, and sometimes it's great.

In most of Japan, and especially in the Kyoto/Osaka area where I live, the most common word pronounced “keihan” is 京阪, meaning “Kyoto and Osaka” in general, and more specifically, it often refers to the Keihan Railway Company, one of the train companies that provides service between the two cities.

This was the only meaning for keihan that I knew until I became acquainted with Amami. Amami's keihan is 鶏飯, literally meaning chicken meal.

Enjoying the chicken meal is such a big part of our visits there (including one last meal at the airport restaurant, where the keihan is surprisingly good for being, well, in an airport) that it takes a bit of getting used to all the “Keihan” signs (in English letters) everywhere here that have nothing to do with food.


All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

I can’t stop watching your amazing work ! I’m watching for hours already…
Why don’t you make a book of your work : something like, all Japanese seasons captured in a book.
I’m soooo impressed.
els spieker

— comment by els spieker on September 8th, 2008 at 3:16am JST (9 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Interesting. I wonder, did Fumie’s grandmother grow up speaking a language different than Japanese? If so, does Fumie know any of it?

No, just Japanese. The island was under Japanese control for many generations by the time she was born. —Jeffrey

— comment by Adam on February 15th, 2015 at 7:35am JST (2 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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