Oma, Aomori: Hon-Maguro Capital of Japan
Bluefin tuna of Oma, widely recognized as “black diamonds”, is a rare and precious Hon-Maguro that you don’t see very often. Hon-Maguro is a highly sought-after fish which has intense marbling. Hon-Maguro from Oma is widely considered to be some of the best in the world. You can see the respect and love for Hon-Maguro everywhere in Oma.
Oma is located in the Shimokita Peninsula of Aomori prefecture which is on the northernmost tip of Honshu island. Oma faces the Tsugaru Strait, a channel joining the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean. The Tsugaru Strait is rich in plankton as the Kuroshio, Tsushima and Chishima currents converge at this point. This plankton is eaten by squid, which in turn is eaten by tuna. One of the main reasons Oma’s Hon-Maguro has a distinctive rich and creamy texture is because it preys on abundant squid.
Fishing method in Oma is called ippon-zuri, a single-hook, hand-line fishing. A “false bait” or live juvenile fish is attached to the end of the hook to deceive the tuna as if they were alive. Some of the bait fish include squid, mackerel and saury. Only a single line is used to reel in massive Hon-Maguro.
All high-end fish are auctioned in Japan. Oma’s tuna weighing 278 kilograms fetched a record 333.6 million yen (US$3.1 million) at the New Year’s auction at Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market in 2019.
Oma’s Hon-Maguro is a must-try if you visit northern Aomori prefecture. Oma is also rich in sea urchin, scallops, squid and abalone. We encourage you to visit Oma to experience the locals’ love for the ocean and fish. It is a must visit destination for maguro lovers!
Oma is easily accessible from Hakodate in Hokkaido prefecture by ferry. Oma is only 90 minutes away. If you plan on making your way from Tokyo, catch a bullet train from Tokyo Station to Hachinohe in Aomori prefecture and switch to a local train.