It’s the end of February in the Tohoku region; there’s still snow on the ground, and temperatures are brisk. Then we hear a ring from our Aiphone intercom*. We’ve gotten our annual package of scallops from my parents in Aomori.

I usually think of scallops as a summer treat, but just when is the season for scallops? With that question in mind, I did some research on scallops with my sons, and I’d like to share with you my results.
*Incidentally, “Aiphone” is the largest intercom manufacturer in the country, and is pronounced the same as the “iPhone” in Japanese. Apple had to receive special permission from Aiphone to use this trademarked name in Japan.

They bought us scallops from the local market and sent it by refrigerated shipping.

There were about 10kg of scallops inside!

Scallops Season

Scallops are in season twice a year. The first is summer, where the water gets warm and the scallops can eat a lot of plankton to grow large and plump. My thought process: “Okay, that’s why we all think of scallops as being a summer food, where you grill it on the barbecue. I get it.”
The second time they’re in season is winter. The scallops grow large in preparation to lay eggs. “Oh yeah, in Japan, that’s when we tend to throw scallops in the hot pot and simmer ‘em.”

So yeah, Now I know why I got them in the winter! In the next issue of THE KITAKAMI TIMES …!

…Just kidding. Our editor Amanda would get mad at me if I ended it there. I decided to research some more.

This picture is from around three years ago – a barbecue by the beach.

I hope COVID calms down soon so we can do this again…

Who has the largest catch of scallops?

Well, I’m sure everyone can guess that it’s China. They catch around 1.8 million tons per year, and scallops are a staple in Chinese cuisine.

I always try to tell my children who’s number two – no matter what it is. The no.2 tallest mountain is K2. The no.2 largest lake is Lake Superior. And the no.2 largest catcher of scallops in the world is… Japan! (at 500,000 tons)

Let’s learn some more about scallops

I also try to tell my children to try to further research the things that interest them or catch their eye.

Japan’s largest producer of scallops is Hokkaido at 400,000 tons. Hokkaido is surrounded on all four sides by the ocean, and has a ton of delicious seafood and produce. The nature is wonderful, and the people are easy-going. That’s the image we have of Hokkaido. It’s a good place.

… But don’t forget the second largest producer!! No.2 is Aomori, my home prefecture (at 80,000 tons). Aomori is right next to Hokkaido, so I’m confident its scallops are just as delicious.

Aomori’s famous “Kaiyaki Miso (fried shellfish in miso).”

It’s important the scallop shell serves as a plate.

Exploring the depths of knowledge

One of my sons will enter middle school this year, so I like to encourage him to research even further. That’s what I’d like to talk about now.

So, the scallop catch. Hokkaido (400,000 tons); Aomori (80,000 tons). What brought this about? We decided to analyze further. Hokkaido’s catch of scallops consist of natural scallops (340,000 tons), and human farmed scallops (60,000 tons). Most of Aomori’s scallops are farmed.

“Oh, Aomori is the largest farmer of scallops, isn’t it?” I was pumping my fist in celebration, but my son’s reaction was different.

“It’s because we can’t catch any scallops naturally, because of global warming.” Ah… you sure are learning a lot in school…

Researching further, the ideal water temperature for scallops is about 18-20 degrees Celsius. That’s why the waters from Hokkaido to Aomori are so hospitable to them. However, according to the newspaper, growing water temperatures have lead to a mass death of scallops, and there are years where we can’t catch any. I’m worried, but that’s exactly why we need to properly manage our resources (like through human farming).

We can use the internet to look up everything these days.

Remote schooling has come a long way, and my sons have grown accustomed to it.

An aside

I’ve mainly talked about the AMOUNT of scallops, but Iwate Prefecture, the home of the Kitakami ILC candidate site, is also famous for its scallops. Actually, I’ve heard that the scallops that fetch the highest price on the market are the ones from Iwate. In Japan, the scallops from Hokkaido and the Tohoku region are known as the best, both in quality and quantity. So let’s leave it there.

Quantity is important, but so is quality. Enjoying our food is important, but so is learning about where it comes from. That’s what I wanted to teach my sons, but I was surprised just how multifaceted their view points were. Our children really grow up right before our eyes, whether we notice it our not.


Scallops is in season during Summer,and Winter.


...これではKitakami times編集長のアマンダさんに叱られます。もう少しリサーチを続けることにしました。

【写真② バーベキュー】