Kombu (kelp) seaweed has been an essential ingredient in the Japanese diet for over a thousand years. It is used to make the savory dashi stock that underpins all Japanese cuisine. It's also cooked in many dishes to add essential minerals and umami. This kombu seaweed grows in the sea around Hokkaido. In the old days, trading vessels known as kitame-bune used to carry kombu from Hokkaido to other parts of Japan, traveling down the Japan Sea coast. Toyama was one of the ports of call for those ships, and the kitamae-bune merchants became very wealthy. At the same time, kombu became embedded in the lives and daily food of the local people. These days, people in Toyama use more of the seaweed in their local cuisine than almost anywhere else in Japan. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Mai Rapsch from Germany visits Toyama to explore its rich food culture and traditions.