Ishinomaki, the City of Whale
Kinoya Ishinomaki Suisan Inc.

Kinoya Ishinomaki Suisan Inc. (Kinoya) was founded in 1952, when people were still experiencing the shortage of food during this postwar period. As it contains abundant nutrition, whale meat was indispensable for Japanese people at that time, and people started to call the area the “City of Whales”. With these conditions, the first president of Kinoya wanted to deliver fresh whale meat to many people’s tables, and that led them to produce their famous “Whale meat Yamatoni”. Cooked with soy source, sugar and bit of ginger, it is salty-sweet and tangy and has stayed the same till now.

kinoyaWhale meat used for Kinoya’s products is caught under research whaling in accordance with the provision of article 8 by the ICRW (International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling).

Their factory was completely destroyed by the massive earthquake that happened in 2011. The president looked back and said, “The situation was desperate, and I was almost to close down the business”. “We had been making efforts simply to provide delicious food to the people, I just did not understand why this happened to us, “he added.

With the efforts of employees and support from people in the city, the factory was rebuilt and the operation was resumed in the spring of 2013, which was 2 years after the earthquake.

Here, we introduce the production process of Kujira (whale) no Yamatoni, a top-seller of Kinoya.


How “Kujira no Yamatoni” is made?

Step1: Slice the whale meat.


Step2: Boil, and cut the meat. To make each meat into pieces of the same size and amount, the cutting is carefully done by hand.


Step3: Put the meat into the cans, and add ginger


Step4: Pour sauce, and seal the can. Finally, cans are high-heat-processed in big iron pots. Each can is sterilized when being sealed, and no additives such as preservative is used. These cans are good for 3 years in usual temperature.


yamatoni“Kujira no Yamatoni”

“Over 55 years, we keep the traditional taste unchanged, since the Yamatoni can maximize the umami taste that whale originally has, and it’s been loved by our customers. The more you bite it, the better it tastes. The salty-sweet soy sauce with ginger flavor whets the appetite.”



Production of fresh fish can food in Sanriku(*) area

“I want to develop the business locally with the local product as the company that takes root in Ishinomaki city, and spread ‘Made in Ishinomaki’ brand all over Japan”. With that vision, the second president started to produce the canned local fish, in addition to whale in the late 1990s.

(*) The Sanriku Coast (三陸海岸 sanriku kaigan) is a coastal region on the Pacific Ocean, extending from southern Aomori prefecture, through Iwate prefecture and northern Miyagi prefecture in northeastern Japan. (Source: Wikipedia)

“Fish caught in the morning is packed in a can by the noon” Kinoya’s passion for the freshness.

Kinoya has introduced the method of “fresh pack”, which the fresh fish is brought directly from the port and canned without freezing , to keep the freshness. The president said “If you use the fatty fresh seasonal fish, the product will be of the best kind consequently”.


Kinoya’s fresh fish can products

kinoya products


Way forward after the earthquake

On the 11th of March (Fri) at 2:46pm, a massive earthquake of M9.0 hit the North Eastern region of Japan.

Within tens of minutes after that, a big Tsunami struck the Sanriku coast, and the p

ort town of Ishinomaki was completely flooded in an instant. Most wooden building were destroyed by the Tsunami, and Kinoya Ishinomaki Suisan also lost their factory.


2 days after the, 500,000 canned food were found in the storage of the factory. Even the cans were damaged and dirty from the Tsunami, food inside of the cans were still edible. The staff at Kinoya did not want to waste these cans, so they started to pick up all cans from the dirt. Many people that were staying at the evacuated shelter without enough food received the canned food from Kinoya, and that helped them restore their vitality.


Also, the people from the shopping arcade in Tokyo whom they had business with, provided a considerate offer. They said “Just send us canned food that you have. We will wash them if they are dirty, and buy them if still edible”. With the great supports from volunteers, the staff of Kinoya started to dig the cans out from the heap of rubble.

dameged_canThe package was peeled off and damaged by Tsunami, but these cans were called “can foods of hope’ and many people were willing to buy it. They finish picking up the cans in the beginning of August, 5 months after the earthquake. In August the same year, they were able to rent production facilities and resume the production of Whale meat Yamatoni, with the support from the can food factory in the another prefecture.


About Kinoya Ishinomaki Suisan Inc. (木の屋石巻水産)

Address: 1-11-4, Sakanamachi, Ishinomaki-shi, Miyagi prefecture, Japan
Web site: (Japanese only)

Contact:  Please feel free to contact from here about Kinoya Ishinomaki Suisan products.

Kinoya Ishinomaki Suisan location