Written by Staff Writer at CNN Nara Sugiyama
Photographer Nobuo Mikohashi spent a year traveling across Japan to find the most beautiful food stalls in the land. An expert in striking photography, he has captured the freshest produce and delicacies, then turned them into striking works of art.
For three years, Matsuhashi has been traveling across Nara, a city of about half a million people about 180 miles north of Tokyo, capturing images of the city’s so-called “grilling rack,” where local chefs prepare delicious, charcoal-grilled fare.
He photographed every stall in the area that sells grilled food and a selection of sweets, small-scale cooking trucks and beyond.
Hoping to give his photos a bit of a social message, he turned his camera towards the city’s majestic North Korean deer, known as shikji. Since they are native to Japan, most restaurants don’t sell animal products, so they prefer to walk across the street and eat out of cups of coffee.
The North Korean deer arrive for feeding at a Japanese animal feed shop in Nara, November 4, 2016. YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
“I took photos of all kinds of grilled meat and sweets but it seems like the most delicate part of the whole process is when they eat these deer berries, where when the deer eat a large amount of berries, the hair and lungs of the deer get scraped away by the fats, meaning it is very delicate and delicate, very creamy,” he told CNN in a phone interview.
Matsuhashi finds the berries delicious, since he gets his own goat to tend to the pasture, but he’s interested in the deer’s diet because they aren’t eaten in Japanese cuisine.
“I thought maybe these deer berries are supposed to be used to make carbonated drinks in Japanese restaurants, but I haven’t seen any such items available for sale at any of the small-scale markets or from small stores and I don’t know how it’s been cultivated,” he said.
But Matsuhashi does agree that it is natural for deer to feast on berries:
“These berries are actually a lot more nutritious and are high in electrolytes and I don’t think the deer should consume them to drinking tea and soda alone. I think they should be eaten because it is a lot more healthful for the deer.”
“And if the deer are not eating the berries, that’s actually a bad thing — so please go eat the Japanese deer berries for sure and continue to support the Japanese deer,” he added.