Clam Digging on the Chita Peninsula

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The asari or Japanese carpet shell (also known as the small-neck or Manila clam) is the most common type of clam found in Japan. Digging in the sand for clams is known as shio-higari and the shio-higari season in Japan generally runs from early spring to late summer, but the exact season varies depending upon the species and location. It’s fun and easy, and you don’t need any prior experience to go get yourself some delicious clams for cooking. However, without a solid technique and the right tools it can be back-breaking work in the summer sunshine.

Clam Digging in the Chita Peninsula - Courtesy of Mihama-cho Tourist Association

How to:
Clams are found between the low and mid-tide points of sandy bays, buried 2 to 4 cm below the surface. So you won’t be able to see the clams directly and you will have to feel for them. It’s best to kneel down in the water (your back will ache after a while if you don’t) outstretch your arm and push the prongs of your garden fork in the sand in front of you. Slowly pull the fork towards you. When the prongs hit something, then chances are it’s a clam. With your other hand dig around in the sand and pull it out. Keep your bucket close so that you don’t have to keep moving back and forth.

What you need:

  • spading fork with a short handle
  • bucket
  • sandals / old sports shoes
  • change of clothes

Keeping clams alive until you cook them is paramount so put some sea water in the bucket with the clams so they live in there own water until you get home.

Cooking your Catch
Before you cook them make sure the clams are still alive. The shells of hard-shell clams should be tightly closed, and soft-shell clams should react to your touch. Scrub the shells with a stiff brush under a running tap and wash off any dirt. In a bowl, soak the short-neck clams in salt water (1 tablespoon for each cup water concentration), and let stand for a few hours to allow them to expel sand and dirt. Before cooking, drain off and rinse under running water.

  • Boil: Put the clams in a pot with 3 – 4 cups of water (sake and white wine also work) and boil on a medium heat. After the shells open, skim off the surface scum, remove from heat and drain.
  • BBQ / Grill: Place the clams on the grill so that none are overlapping and remove clams from heat when their shells open wide – usually takes 3 -5 minutes. Use a fork to remove the clam meat from the shells.

Where to go:
Clamming on the East coast of the Chita Peninsula runs until the end of June, the West coast until the end of August. The official clamming beaches are only open during low tide and charge for admission. Toilets and refreshment stalls are also provided at many of these official locations.

  • Admission: 1100 Yen for adults, 900 Yen for elementary students, 800 Yen for children aged 3~5 years old.
  • East coast of Mihama-cho 美浜町東海岸
    Located on Mikawa Bay the area has 4 beaches Kami-mura, Ōike, Kōwaguchi, and Kitagata that are within close proximity to each other.
    • When: until Sunday, June 24, 2012
    • Access:
      • Ōike 大池 – is a 1 minute walk from Meitetsu Kōwaguchi Station 河和口
      • Kami-mura 上村- is a 10 minute walk from Meitetsu Kōwaguchi Station
      • Kōwaguchi 河和口 – is in front of Meitetsu Kōwaguchi Station
      • Kitagata 北方 – is a 5 minute walk from Meitetsu Kōwa Station 河和
      • Access by car: All locations are a 3 to 5km drive from the Mihama IC (美浜) on the Chitahantō Road (知多半島道路); paid parking in available.

■West Coast of Mihama-cho 美浜町西海岸
Located just south of Chubu International Airport the area has 4 beaches Kami-noma, Okuda Kita, Okuda Naka, and Okuda Minami. Toilets are available.

    • When: until Friday, August 31, 2012
    • Access:
      • Okuda Kita 奥田北is a 5 minute walk from Meitetsu Mihama-Ryokuen Station美浜緑苑.
      • Okuda Naka 奥田中is a 10 minute walk from Meitetsu Chita Okuda Station 知多奥田.
      • Okuda Minami 奥田南 is a 15 minute walk from Meitetsu Chita Okuda Station知多奥田.
      • Kami-noma 上野間is a 10 minute walk from Meitetsu Kami Noma Station 上野間駅
      • Access by car: All locations are a 3 to 5km drive from the Mihama IC (美浜) on the Chitahantō Road (知多半島道路); paid parking in available.

When to go:

The clamming beaches are only open around low-tide.

May times4 – 08:30 – 12:005 – 08:30 – 13:00

6 – 09:30 – 14:00

7 – 10:00 – 15:00

8 – 10:30 – 15:30

9 – 11:30 – 16:00

10 – 12:30 – 16:30

18 – 08:30 – 11:30

19 – 09:00 – 12:30

21 – 09:30 – 14:00

22 – 10:30 – 14:30

23 – 10:30 – 14:30

24 – 11:30 – 15:00

25 – 12:30 – 16:00

26 – 13:00 – 16:30

June times2 – 08:30 – 11:303 – 08:30 – 13:00

4 – 09:00 – 14:00

5 – 10:00 – 14:30

6 – 10:30 – 15:30

7 – 11:30 – 16:00

8 – 12:30 – 16:30

17 – 08:30 – 12:00

18 – 09:00 – 12:30

19 – 09:30 – 13:30

20 – 10:30 – 14:00

21 – 11:00 – 14:30

22 – 11:30 – 15:00

23 – 12:00 – 15:30

24 – 13:00 – 16:00

*times subject to weather conditions
July & August times are in the official Mihama-cho poster (PDF)

★Source: Mihama-cho Official Poster (PDF)

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