Pheasant Dining in Iwamizawa.
By Shawn Clankie.
Pheasant or kiji is said to be a specialty of Iwamizawa. Indeed, driving along Highway 12 towards Iwamizawa there are the remnants of an old pheasant restaurant. The beautiful sign and wa-style restaurant are still there, but it hasn’t operated for at least a decade. A couple years back, I went in search of a restaurant serving pheasant and was recommended to one on the edge of the city. It’s a restaurant that I now try to visit annually. And for those willing to make the effort, or those with a taste for more traditional game, it is definitely worth the trip. At the northern end of the city, heading east toward Mikasa, is the Kijimarukun restaurant. Serving locally-raised pheasant, one can dine on pheasant yakiniku, pheasant ramen, or their most popular item, the kiji katsu. The restaurant is not overly fancy. It is a typical shokudo-style place that one might find anywhere in the countryside. What makes this restaurant special however, and the reason I choose to make the long trip each year, is that the restaurant sits on the site of a local social welfare service and is operated by the residents of the facility. This makes it a doubly good experience, because everything you spend at Kijimarukun goes to directly support the residents. In addition to the restaurant section, there is also a small area where one can buy pheasant products to take home or as omiyage. Among the delicacies are smoked pheasant, pheasant sausage, and pheasant yakitori. There are also gift boxes available and the meat to be sent anywhere in the country. The next time you are near Iwamizawa, give Kijimarukun a try. You’ll get a good meal, and will help others in the process. Kijimarukun is open daily (except Wednesdays) from 11 am- 4 pm.