Discover “Shime” Culture in Miyazaki
At midnight in the middle of Miyazaki city, when the whole streets become cheerful and tipsy, you may hear people saying, “Let’s go for shime, shall we?”.
“Shime (〆め)” is the last meal to conclude the drinking for the night. In Japan, people usually have the first meal at the beginning of the night and hop to different bars after. When the night is almost over, people go to eat shime before going home.
You can see the roots of Japanese Shime culture if you go back in the history of the development of Kaiseki-Ryori (会席料理), which is the Japanese style course dishes. According to “The Development and Changes of Kaiseki-Ryori Dishes” reported by The Japan Society of Home Economics Division of Food Culture, the custom of serving rice dishes near the and of the course had been rooted at restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto in the late Meiji era.
People can enjoy having shime in different ways. For example, some people like to eat rice dishes such as zosui (雑炊) or ochazuke (お茶漬け) in the traditional way. Some like to eat various types of noodles including ramen and udon. Others may prefer to end their night with a desert rather than with savory food.
What people like to eat for shime also depends on the region. The drinking culture in Miyazaki is pretty strong and offers some unique ways of enjoying shime as well. Let’s explore some of the interesting shime places in downtown Miyazaki City.
Eating udon noodles is one of the most popular ways of finishing the drinking night in Miyazaki. A lot of tourists have a stereotype that people in Kyushu always eat ramen. In fact, people love to eat udon in Miyazaki just as much as they love to eat ramen. Locals eat udon at any time throughout the day from early morning as a breakfast all the way to midnight as shime for a drinking night.
There are some local udon specialty restaurants that stay open late at night in downtown Miyazaki City. Those places usually get extremely busy after 10:00 PM with all the customers who crave for shime udon. A bowl of great udon satisfies their feeling of wanting something warm and filling before going home.
People tend to believe that udon noodles taste the best when it’s thick and springy as it is represented by Sanuki style noodles from Kagawa prefecture. In Miyazaki, however, it seems that there is a wider definition of good udon noodles. A lot of restaurants produce thin and soft noodles which are commonly called “Miyazaki-style udon.” Some locals prefer Miyazaki-style udon, while some prefer the springy Sanuki-style. Others like to eat different styles depending on the time and the occasion. For shime specifically, people seem to prefer the lighter, less springy udon in Miyazaki.
Karamen (辛麺) is a spicy noodle soup that originated in Miyazaki. This Miyazaki soul food has been loved by locals for over 20 years. Karamen noodles are originally made from multiple types of flour including buckwheat flour. This type of noodle is thin and has a slightly chewy texture. It contains a lot of dietary fiber, therefore it’s much healthier than eating regular noodles. The soup contains cayenne peppers, beaten eggs, garlic, Chinese chives, and grand meat. As soon as you get your first taste of this spicy soup, you can feel the blood circulating in your body. The smell and the flavor of the soup is extremely addictive. You can’t stop eating until you see the bottom of the bowl.
What surprises tourists the most when we talk about shime culture is that people in Miyazaki love to eat parfaits for shime. In most of the places in Japan, eating food with some saltiness for shime is the standard and classic way. But Miyazaki locals are unconventional. There are a certain number of people who rather eat something sweet after drinking. In downtown
Miyazaki, local fruit parfait places are filled with workers, families, couples and friends from 7:00 PM to midnight.
There have been more and more foreign tourists who visit Japan to enjoy the fresh local fruits nowadays. When in Miyazaki, you can try to experience the real shime culture with a heavenly fruit parfait at the end of the night.
There are a variety of ways of enjoying shime culture in Miyazaki. Try to explore your favorite shime places in town on your next visit.