Eating the Sweet Wife

by He Fang

“It’s delicious! It’s great!” I hear many loud voices behind the door. There is a party with nearly 15 people. I’m late with a hungry stomach after a busy day at my part-time job. I run inside the door in a hurry. “Oh, what a pity it is! We’ve just enjoyed the Kazutoyo’s wife. Pretty good! But there’s none left for you. We are all out! ” One of them tells me with his mouth full. “What?” “A person? ” I’m surprised, and I have no idea what he is saying. “This morning we had a small tour to visit the old house of Kazutoyo, and he bought the manjyu called ‘Kazutoyo no tsuma’ at the souvenir shop.” Says a girl with a smile. “This is a special sweet with konatsu taste. I recommend it!” “Me too.” “Yes, it’s delicious!” A lot of voices follow her.

Konatsu(小夏) is a fruit planted in Kochi, which is not widely known in Japan, even in the world. It can be directly translated into “small summer” in English. It is a kind of orange, has white and thick skin. And out of the skin, there is a bright yellow rind around its skin. It looks like a small size “Yuzu”, which is the most famous fruit in Kochi.

‘But not all of people like to eat “Yuzu”, konatsu is the fruit to eat instead of “Yuzu”.’Said the seller in ‘Hamakou’ , one of the most famous sweet shops in kochi, to me. While she talked, I thought I really don’t like “Yuzu”. But instead of “Yuzu”, I’d like to have a taste of konatsu.

Konatsu was discovered accidentally at the beginning of the 18th century in the Miyazaki prefecture. The cultivation of konatsu lasts over 200 years. The origin of the seed is unknown, but someone said that konatsu inherited something from “Yuzu”. Konatsu is called ‘hyuganatsu’ in the Miyazaki prefecture, and also called ‘New summer orange’ in the Ehime prefecture. However, given its bright yellow color, its fresh scent and its lovely small size, ‘Konatsu (small summer)’ is the better name I think. People living in Kochi created this attractive name to this cute fruit. As its name’s meaning, konatsu is a fruit appearing after spring, a time that announces the real summer’s coming.

Sweaty season always makes people want to eat something cold and juicy. I took a konatsu from the refrigerator and peeled it as the same as an apple, and then I saw a thick white skin still protecting the pulp. ‘It’s better to eat with the white part together and you will enjoy a wonderful taste’, I remembered the words of my Japanese friend.

After cutting it into some small pieces, I could not wait for one second because of its powerful acid smell. When I put it into my mouth, the taste let me never forget. That was sweet! Actually it was freshly sweet and lightly sour. The taste of konatsu has perfect balance which made me think about my first romance. It has the first romance’s taste. I was surprised. Of course I love this taste, and you would too, I think.

Konatsu has citric acid for fatigue recovery, has vitamin C for detoxification of active oxygen, has pectin to protect cancer, and also has the vitamin P to protect against arteriosclerosis. Other kinds of oranges also have the same elements, however it’s easy to throw the skin and string away, in which it has 4 times pectin and vitamin than the pulp. So konatsu is the most efficient kind of oranges and we can get its advantageous elements with its delicious taste.

It’s a pity that konatsu only appears in the small summer (the season before the real summer). That means people cannot eat the konatsu for the whole year. But “Kazutoyo no tsuma (Kazutoyo’s wife)”, a sweet made in Nishigawaya in Kochi, can be eaten throughout the year.

Kochi is a small city, where we can see many kinds of fields everywhere. Kochi has fresh air, about 84% green plane’s area and pure river, all of which make Kochi’s primary industry agriculture. Furthermore, there is little secondary industry in Kochi. It is difficult to develop the economy in Kochi in this situation. But there are a lot of history here and also a lot of great people in the history come from Kochi, and are known in the whole of Japan. Which is one of the important points to attract tourists to come. This is a helpful way to develop the economy of Kochi. Using the name of great people is a normal way to sell their products in shops. It is also a good way to introduce the original products of Kochi. “Buy a souvenir, to know a story, to learn a history, interest in Kochi, to develop Kochi!” If I was the tourist, I would like to do that.

I heard the stories of their famous sweets in Nishigawaya, but I still noticed the name “Kazutoyo no tsuma” and followed the recommendation of my friends, I bought it.

In fact,Kazutoyo’s wife is named “Chiyo”, who is the first Lord of Tosa-han. Chiyo and Yamauchi Kazutoyo got married in the 3rd year (1572) of the Genki period (1570.4.23~1573.7.28). Although Chiyo was 16 years old at that time, she was very intelligent and was taught by her mother. And she vowed to help her husband, who was a real fledgling, to be a Lord of a country.

At first, it was important for Kazutoyo to have a lot of superior followers by serving with distinction on the battlefield. The household expenses were badly off due to a lot of followers who were unworthy. However, wise and cheerful Chiyo wasn’t overcome by their poverty. She did a lot of things, such as cutting square boxes into chopping board, selling her hair, and so on. She used the money she earned to let Kazutoyo service their followers.

In the first year of the Tensyo period (1573.7.28~1592.12.8), Kazutoyo killed the strongest soldier who was famous for his skill of archery. And then, Kazutoyo became a general who had 400 ‘koku’ dominions. (Kokudaka (石高) refers to a system for determining land value for tribute purposes in Edo-period Japan and expressing this value in koku of rice. This tribute was no longer a percentage of the actual quantity of rice harvested, but was assessed based on the quality and size of the land. The system was used to value the incomes of daimyo, or feudal rulers, as well as to value the homes and fields of landowners. MORE)

One day, a famous horse appeared in the horse market of Azuchi, even though the samurais of Oda Nobunaga had never seen the horse. Of course, the price was too expensive and nobody could afford it. Kazutoyo somehow wanted to get the famous horse. He went back home in a hurry and talked with his wife Chiyo. After hearing that, Chiyo thought this was a chance to make Kazutoyo a success. She took out the money which she was told to use when her husband needs it most by her mother when she got married, and gave it to Kazutoyo.

Kazotoyo was a lower ranked officer who belonged to Oda Nobunaga, but he became famous by using his wife’s money to buy the famous horse. In the ninth year of the Tensyo period (1581), “if no one could buy that horse among Oda’s followers, the Oda’s group would be looked down upon in the world. Achievements are not only gained on the battlefield, increase 200 koku!” Nobunaga who had been looking forward to watching Kazutoyo’s horse said that in great spirits.
After buying the horse, Kazutoyo came closer and closer to his dream, and finally he became the owner of Kochi who also had 240 thousand koku. This was all thanks to his wife.

I know a saying that goes “behind every great man, there is a woman.” And I’m eating the “Kazutoyo’s wife”, no, not eating, I’m “enjoying”. “I put konatsu in it because of two reasons. The first reason is that konatsu is our local fruit, and the second reason is that konatsu is small and cute. It is similar with the shape of the money which were given to Kazutoyo from his wife. And also because of the function and the taste! Konatsu is a powerful and delicious fruit. Just like Kazutoyo’s wife, a weak woman but intelligent and powerful!” I remember the words of the manager of Nishigawaya. So I’m enjoying it!

I walked in the hotel called “Sansuien”, which was the old house of Kazutoyo, and read the whole story of Kazutoyo’s wife. Enjoying the history! Enjoying the culture!

View Larger Map

2 thoughts on “Eating the Sweet Wife”

  1. Bronze statue of Chiyo is near the Kochi castle but I didn’t know her statue is with a house. your article makes us know not only Konatsu but also history in Kochi. It was fun to read.

  2. He Fang, thanks for the news of Kochi and the “behind the scenes” story. I never think of Japanese women as weak because as Chiyo did, they hold the purse strings in the family and they educate their children. My oldest son, who is part Japanese always says, “Women are stronger than men.”

    Looks like you are enjoying your student life; I was once a foreign student in Japan, and though back in my country now, I enjoy writing about Japanese history and literature, plus book reviews of Asian American fiction.

Comments are closed.