Matsuya’s 88 Years

by Diyana P.

It was the sweet, creamy smell that attracted me first to the shop.Yes, if it was not because of the smell, I would not have noticed the small shop.When my friend and I stopped at the red light, the smell was so inviting that my eyes ran around the area, searching for the cause. Then, there it was.Not far from where we stood, I noticed a little bit hidden, small cake shop. Colourful cakes and pies were displayed at the front of the shop and a lot of kind of biscuits and cookies were arranged at the side. All of them were glittering so shiningly in my eyes and the strong, sweet, creamy smell made me felt a sudden crave to eat something sweet. We went to the shop and struggled for quite a time. I did not know what to choose! There were so many delicious-looking cakes to choose from.

It is one of the oldest shop in the Obiyamachi shopping district. It was opened in 1924, about 88 years ago but the shop is so lively that the old age are barely seen.The shop is a bit hidden at the corner of the junction. So, it is not a wonder why most people do not noticed the small cake shop, but the strong smell of freshly baked cakes, biscuits and pies attract people who are walking there to turn their head around and take a glance.Then, they would see the cake shop with ‘Matsuya’ written on top of it in katakana.

Many would say that all cake shops are the same. But that is where they are wrong. Matsuya has a history and reputation in Kochi. It survived from the war and the new century. Even though, a lot of other cake shops begin to open years after, Matsuya still stands tall. Familiar faces stop by, take their time to think which to choose and buy their cakes. I believe nobody ever gets tired of it because I never have. I always buy the same packet of chocolate chips and a piece of strawberry cake. I also love to try other cakes that I have never eaten before. So, I always ended up with two pieces of cakes.

Japan is well known for family business with the oldest one being the famous Hoshi Ryokan which is located in Ishikawa and was founded in 717 of Nara Period. There are a lot of family business shops that are being managed generation by generation in Japan. They prefer to take the risk and open a shop that sell things that they like or that can help the daily life of the people around them. For example, bakery, restaurant, ryokan, electrical shop, pottery workshop, clothes shop, food stall and Japanese traditional sweets shop.

Unfortunately, with the recent development of technology and the fast-spreading chain shops, a lot of this family business shops, like Matsuya, are facing problems in their sales. Shopping malls are built here and there while chain shops, like Starbucks ,McDonalds, Jusco and Doutor, are gaining a lot of profits in their sales than the local shops. Most people prefer to buy at this chain shops because it is considered more high class or better than the local ones. The brand also influenced people’s choice. If a person found out that the white blouse that she have been eyeing for at the racks of the well-known shop, GAP has a similar design and materials with the one she saw at the local shop near her house, which one will she buys?

Would she buys the GAP one because her friend might ask about it or the local ones just because it is cheaper and she do not care about it? Lots will be surprised to know that a lot of people may choose the former instead of the latter.

Matsuya is also one of this ever-changing society victims. Most of people may have thought of Matsuya when they had wanted to eat cakes, 50 years ago. But nowadays, they may prefer to go to the nearest convenience store to purchase a piece of cake or just stop by and eat at one of the family restaurant that serve varieties of cakes. Day by day, this local shops are being forgotten and soon after they have to face the crisis of bankruptcy.

However, it is kind of surprising that after all this years, this small cake shop survived even though the world around it was changing so fast and so much. This may due to the fact that the cake itself was a new kind of dessert in Kochi when it was brought in.

“Cakes were pretty rare here at the countryside long ago. So, when the news about a new cake shop has been opened got spread throughout the city, people kept coming and coming to buy some more. I suppose rare things do sells.”

And though it’s long been in the family, the shop will soon pass to different, though familiar hands.

“My husband used to run the shop, but now it’s me,” says Yamamoto Miyako. “But Mizuta-kun will take over in the future.”

“I have been in charge of the kitchen since the former owner died. That’s about 10 years ago,”
follows Mizuta Matsuhito.

What really make this Matsuya’s cakes so special? The fact that they sell their cakes just exactly how they did when they first opened the shop, make them very special. That is without the help of any technology or machines that are used in most shops nowadays.

“No, we do not use or have any sort of secret ingredients or sauce,” said the wise baker. “But I can say that the differences between our shop and others are that we do not refrigerate any of the cakes. They are all freshly baked and we use our hands to make them instead of using a machine.”

Everytime I stop by at Matsuya, it is the same routine. My eyes will keep looking at the cookies on the rack and then back again at the cakes. The fresh, sweet smells, actually, are the one that always keeping me from making all the decisions. All of them smell so tastefully and look so yummy. I will take my time in choosing and eventually end up with two type of cakes and one packet of chocolate chip cookies. I will be smiling by myself, at the thought of eating them, all the way home. Yes, I am a fool for cakes and I would not mind to take the train for about 15 minutes from my house just to buy their cakes. Matsuya’s cakes and not others.It will be great if they still can survived 88 years and more.

Kanzashi & the Yosakoi-bushi

by S. Minami

Harimayabashi, present day

One day during Edo period, a Buddhist priest named Junshin was in a small accessories shop at the foot of Harimaya bridge with strained look. He wanted to buy a present for his girl friend Ouma. He had been hanging around the shop for a long time so he was become the focus of public attention. At that time, there is a regulation that priests mustn’t fall in love with someone, so it was very weird that a priest was even in the accessories shop. Then suddenly he entered the shop again like he determined something and gripped one kanzashi (a long ornamental hairpin ; Japanese women had used it to have their hair dressed in traditional style,) and bought it while hanging his head shyly. When he came out the shop, his face was full of delight and satisfaction.

土佐の高知の  (In Kochi of Tosa)

はりまや橋で  (At Harimaya-bashi)

坊さんかんざし買うを見た  (A priest bought a kanzashi)

よさこい よさこい  (Yosakoi, Yosakoi)

This is a stanza of yosakoi-bushi, a traditional folk song from Kochi. This is a kind of parody and the melody of Yosakoi-bushi comes from one of kiyari (木遣り) -bushi : a song for the construction workers. They had sung as shout encouragement while carrying some big trees and rocks. During the construction of Kochi castle, this Kiyari-bushi was sung by people in Kochi. Then one day, a person saw Junshin buy a kanzashi and he felt that his action was very strange so started to sing what he saw to the melody of Kiyari-bushi. And gradually this song spread around and has come down people in Kochi until now. This is an origin of Yosakoi-bushi.

Yosakoi dancers

Most people can imagine Yosakoi Festival easily when they hear the word “Yosakoi”. It is a very big and energetic and powerful event in Kochi, held on August 9 to 12 every summer and on 9, very beautiful fireworks are displayed. It started in 1954 to dispell melancholy mood of a recession and encourage people. And the highlight of this festival is Yosakoi-dance. It’s a form of Bon Odori dancing and people dance with Yosakoi-bushi and naruko, a wooden clapper. The festival always accepts experimentation with music and dance, for example rock music, hip hop dance, gorgeous hairstyle and costume and so on. Each team has its own originality and ardour so we spectators never get bored. But there is a rule the basic tune of ‘Yosakoi-bushi’ be used in one form or another. After all, Yosakoi Festival has been developed as an original culture in Kochi and introduced other sensitivities and different values freely. And all of this has been brought up by the place “Kochi” which can accept a new and different world.

Kanzashi, sold by Hamako Company

There is a sweet ‘kanzashi’ which is named after the lyrics of Yosakoi-bushi. Hamakou ( the long-established company which runs the sweets shop, real estate and the hotel ) started to sell it in 1962 and it is always nominated as one of the recommended souvenirs in Kochi and now about 4million is made and sold in a year. It uses yuzu, a kind of citrus fruits and the special product in Kochi to express the bittersweet feeling of Junshin and Ouma’s love.

“We have been active to hand down the culture and the tradition in Kochi,” Yukihiro Hamada, the president of a company said, “recently people look so busy and don’t have any time to feel the seasonal change. I feel that they have been losing the minds which can enjoy the beauty of nature,” he continued strongly, “It is the sweets that can represent the beauty of season and nature. We want you in Kochi and you love Kochi to know the Kochi’s approaches and the worth of Kochi’s culture.”

The Yosakoi foundation is the thing that nothing can take the place of and filled with love for Kochi. Now Yosakoi-bushi is a basis of many present cultures and traditions in Kochi and so people have it in their own hearts, senses of value and the way of thinking. So this is the reason why Yosakoi-bushi is loved by people in Kochi.

Remembering the star-crossed lovers

Yosakoi-bushi has been loved for many many years and Junshin and Ouma’s love story has been loved, too. Unfortunately however, this love story didn’t have a happy ending. The rumor about them spread through the city due to Yosakoi-bushi and Junshin decided to elope with her. But immediately two were caught by the pursuers and punished because they broke the social rules.  Junshin was banished from the country and Ouma was exiled to a far-off to east and the lovers never met again.

This story is very very sad but beautiful story. People in Kochi have a warm-hearted feeling and sincerity which can feel the beauty of this tragic story. And Yosakoi-bushi would not have been popular if its birthplace were not in here Kochi. At first, I just wanted to write the article about a sweet, kanzashi, but gradually I’m sure that I feel closer to the essence of culture and tradition through Yosakoi-Bushi.

It is very life in Kochi!

The Most Earnest Biscuits on Earth

by Hanis Asmadi

Mire Biscuits

“I can remember a hot mid-summer evening in Kochi,” says my classmate Yukiko. “The sun was shining brightly in the blue summer sky and the wind blow slowly, thus triggering the sound of wind bell. It is a noisy evening where the sound of cheerful kids that are playing near the engawa filled the humid air,”she started her story with a big smile on her face.

She remembered that they will stop playing after their grandmother called them to come over to the engawa. “My grandmother will called us while carrying a tray filled with a plate of Mire biscuits and a jug of cold juice.” Yukiko reminisced her grandmother will watched them eating deliciously with her rough lips smiling happily.

Nomura Factory

Mire biscuit is one of the Kochi made food product. It is produced by Nomura’s company which is well-known for selling beans. After that, they decided to produce and sell Mire biscuits. It started to hit the market in 1955 and still sold well in Kochi. Now, Mire biscuits factory produced about 12 000 packages per day.

Actually, before Mire biscuits being sold by Nomura’s Company, it had already been sold by one of the Japanese famous and largest food company that is Meiji Corporation. Therefore, the biscuits’ dough are actually made in the Meiji’s former factory in Aichi, Nagoya before it is been brought to Kochi for the rest of the processing.

What is interesting about this biscuit is it is the earnest biscuits on earth! This name itself is written on the biscuit’s packages, ‘Majime na Okashi’ or in English, the earnest biscuits. Yet, how can a biscuit becomes serious?

Mr. Nomura

“Mire biscuits is actually one of the products in our packaging line, majime series. Why we named them majime? It is because we produced them earnestly to the consumer from the bottom of our heart,” said Mr. Nomura, with an earnest expression radiates on his face. Mr. Nomura is the owner of the company that produced Mire biscuits that is Nomura Company.

It is a common knowledge for Kochi people that Mire biscuits goes well with beer. There are even some bars in Kochi that served Mire biscuits as snacks to accompany drinking.

“Mire biscuits is usually eaten as tidbits while drinking beer,” said Kochi native Nishioka Yuka.

Other than that, Mire biscuits is usually bought as a souvenirs for their friends or family that is living outside of Kochi prefecture.

“Kochi residence always buy Mire biscuits for the relatives and friends that lives outside of the prefecture when we visit them,” said Yukiko, who also buys them as souvenirs from Kochi.

However, Mire biscuits is just famous among the elderly of Kochi people. Most of the young generation did not know about it.

“I knew about Mire biscuits from my friends during high school. Before my friend introduce them to me, I did not know that the biscuits are made in Kochi,” said 19 years old Maiko who is also the Kochi native residence.

“Mire biscuits reminds me of my late mother,”said Nishioka Yuka. Her late mother loved Mire biscuits and always bought the biscuits during her childhood days, thus she frequently ate them. But, after her mother’s death, her family did not bought them anymore. Therefore, her son, who is in high school now did not know about Mire biscuit.

One of the main reasons why young Kochi residence did not know about the biscuits is because of the Kochi’s geographical location itself. Kochi Prefecture is located in Shikoku and surrounded by the Shikoku Mountains and The Pacific Ocean. Because of that, the products that are made in Kochi is just famous among the native residence.

However, after the completion of Nangoku Highway, the highway that connects Kochi to another prefecture in the year 2002, Kochi people can enter and go to another prefecture easily. Therefore, there are many commercialized products that are made by big companies conquering Kochi’s food market. These explains why the veteran Kochi people knows about Mire biscuits well while the young generations are on the opposite.

It is a mystery how such a flavorsome biscuit is made because the ingredients used are really simple. The doughs that are sent to Kochi’s factory are already in the small round size shape.Next, the biscuits are fried in the vegetable oil that had been used to fry the beans before. The process of frying is done cautiously. They only fried the biscuits at the temperature of 170℃~180℃. Afterwards, they sprinkle the natural salt, not too much and too little. What is more, the process of making the biscuits are still unchanged from the past.

“The ingredients to make the biscuit is simple. We just made them with flour, sugar, shortening, vegetable oil and natural dry salt. Why it is so simple? Because simple is the best,” said Mr. Nomura half jokingly with a beaming smile on his face.

Business is good!

I still remember my first experience eating Mire biscuit after my friend recommend it to me. The sweet and salty taste properly blended and spread widely as the biscuits slowly melting in my mouth. The crunching sounds can be heard clearly through my ears as if the music are being played. I look back at the package, feeling astonished. How does the brown colored 10 Yen shape biscuits that look so simple could have such amazing taste? The crispy and sweet salty taste intrigued as my hand move automatically to the package to grab another bites. Once you eat it, you will crave for more.

 

The History of the Big Cedar in Otoyo Town

by Chisa Kawakami

The Osugi michinoeki is a two-story blue building with many banners flying outside advertising many different foods and drinks. Nearby stands a map with a picture of the late Misora Hibari (a very popular Japanese enka singer) along with a monument and explanation of “michinoeki”.

Then there is a very big tree which is the famous cedar in Japan. The reason why there are connections between the big cedar and Misora Hibari is that; there were some points related each other. The following story is a real story which happened in Otoyo town.

In 28th April, 1947, Misora Hibari was touring as a part of working with her mother all over Japan . Then the bus Misora Hibari got into collided with an oncoming car and fell off from the road in Otoyo town. And she was carried to Dr. Murakami Takashi of Uemura hospital because she lost consciousness due to excessive bleeding, and had a narrow escape from death. After medical treatment of one month and half a month, she recovered from an injury. Then she came to Yasaka-shrine (the place where the big cedar was built) for appreciation for people who had took care of Hibari when she had got injured, with her mother and prayed to the big cedar that she could be the best singer in Japan. 5 years later, when she was 14 years old, she performed publicly in Kochi city and she also worshiped this tree again. For these facts, a portrait of a deceased Misora Hibari’s tombstone and a song monument were built by people in Otoyo-town.

Also, now, Hibari hall where people can have a meal was built at the spot Misora Hibari fell down. It is the spot where about 1 kilometer from the big cedar was. Therefore, Misora Hibari was related to the big cedar in Otoyo town very much.

Also, there are a lot of interesting things in Otoyo town. One of this is that there is the oldest cedar of Japan in Otoyo town.

According to the Web site of Otoyo town, this big cedar is in the Yasaka shrine. It is estimated to be over 3000 years old and is said to have been planted by Susano-Omikoto, a mythological figure mentioned in old texts. It includes South-Big cedar and North big cedar, and also called Meoto cedar because two roots have been united in the ground. South big cedar’s root is about 20 meters and height is about 60 meters. North one’s root is about 16.5 meters and height is about 57 meters. It was specified a protected plant in 1952.

The reason that this old tree has been living for such a long time is people have been taking care of it carefully.

“The inside of the cedar is hollow,” one local person explained to me, “so it is reinforced by sheet copper. Moreover, it had been damaged by typhoons or thunder in the past. Therefore, it has been wrapped a rope to prevent it from toppling over”. Thanks to these cares by people, the big old cedar is still living now.

Due to the influence of Misora Hibari, a lot of people visit Otoyo town to see the big cedar and to have a meal in the Hibari hall. According to people in Otoyo town:

“At the most, 300 people come to see the big cedar per a day, for example Golden Week, summer vacation, and so on. When visitors reached the peak in the past, 1116 people came to see it in a day. Also, at least, 30 people come to see it per a day. There is no day when less than 10 tourists come”.

It was surprising that the number of tourists was very large. How great the history in Otoyo town and the influence of famous singer are!

Finally, a person in the entrance of Yasaka shrine explained about souvenir connected to the big cedar and Misora Hibari. She introduced typical three souvenirs;

“These are bookmarks, Misora Hibari’s calendar, and Ohsugi rice cracker. Bookmarks of the big cedar were sold at 200 yen per one.”

“These bookmark are made in branches which were broken by lightning”, she continued, “people cannot cut the big cedar due to a protected plant, but they can use broken branches”.

It is an impressing point that they are making use of such a gift from nature efficiently. Also calendars of Misora Hibari are sold, but “we can buy them everywhere in Japan because Misora Hibari was a very famous singer, so not just in Otoyo town”, she added. And Ohsugi rice crackers were been selling, but she said “to tell the truth, those were made in Kagawa”.

Vistor’s impressions of Otoyo town before visiting and after visiting were different. Before visiting, there might be impressions that Otoyo town is far from Kochi city, very rural, a thinly populated village, just something like negative things. Surely, these things may be facts, but there are also plenty of good points in Otoyo town. For instance, there are a lot of gifts which were given by great nature and histories. There is no more older cedar than one in Otoyo town. For a very long time, people have protected it, and attracted a lot of visitors; it’s the pride of Otoyo town. Also, Otoyo town has some relations to Hisora Hibari. Otoyo town is the place where made her life changed and the starting point of her activity as a singer, isn’t it? These facts are connected with revitalization of Otoyo town. Therefore people should take over and protect these histories.

Reference materials: the Web page of Otoyo town

 

Boushi pan

by Y. Nishimura

One hot and humid afternoon, an exhausted baker in Kochi’s factor found that he forgot to put cookies on meronpan. He usually returned it to uncooked dough, but this time he didn’t. He decided to eat it for his snack and he put it on castella  and popped it in the oven. As it baked it produced good and sweet smell of bread. He was amazed with the new product that was produced unexpectedly. He really liked it and decided to sell the new product.

This is the beginning of the boushi pan (“hat bread”) and if he hadn’t mistake, we couldn’t enjoy boushi pan.

Boushi pan is not a common food in Japan, but it is very popular and famous in Kochi. It is sweet bread that is shaped like a hat and many people love it. It began to be sold about 80 years ago as ‘Castella bread’ but one customer called it “Boushi pan”, and the name stuck. (Castella is the sweet japanese cake, it come from Portugal in the 16th century. It looks like a plain sponge cake.)

I first heard about boushi pan when I entered Kouchi University. I looked at it and realized why it is called boushi pan. I hadn’t eaten it in all my 20 years, but now I love it! However some of my friends don’t know boushi bread and others know but they hadn’t eaten ever it. Recently some convenience stores sell it in many places so I recommend it to my friends.One of my friends said ‘I have never ate it but it tastes good!’ Yes,I know.

It became a popular because of TV program ‘どっちの県民ショー’ which introduces us to unique foods and interesting culture in Japan.

After that, Boushi pan was sold at a department store in Tokyo, and more than 500 a day were sold. Still, many people didn’t know about Boushi pan. But little by little, people came to love the appearance and sweet taste soon. Some people know Boushi pan, so they were nostalgic for Kochi. As a result, boushi pan came to be sold in many bread shops in Japan.

We visited the boushi pan factory and met the president of the company, Mr. Nagano. He came out to us with smiling and kindly explained that the company continues to develop its products.

“It’s important to search for something new,” Mr.Nagano says, “so we have been developing frozen boshi bread so people can eat it whenever and wherever they want.”

If you lived in somewhere in Japan, we could eat it or if you were hungry at midnight, you could eat it–though I don’t know about the calories! He went on to explain that making the bread requires constant attention to changing conditions.

“We change the quantity to make bread every day because the weather and temperature change every day so we have to adapt them.”

They have been sold in China, but it is difficult for japanese company because China’s market don’t still have the way to carry and sell them. Though they are challenging about its problem and think if they got a way to sell breads in China, they would have a big success.China market is very big,but many Chinese supermarket don’t accept selling breads with packing.There are many bread with packing in Japanese supermarket so it is a big difference between China and Japan.Some of Japanese convenience store sell boushi bread in China,however, it is still small market.Then Mr.Nagano said “I want many people to eat our breads so we’re looking forward Chinese people to knowing our bread.” with his eyes shining.

After interviewing, we ate boushi pan,  it looked pretty and was so delicious. I might know why people love it. It tastes very simple so we don’t lose interest and can eat many ways, for example some company sells boushi bread filled with chocolate or anko, Japanese traditional sweet beans paste. Also the castella called  ‘boushi bread crust’ is now sold in many shops and is popular. I suppose due to that, everybody young and old continues to enjoy the sweet.

If you came to Kochi, you absolutely should eat it. And you will be enjoying eating Boushi pan or put it on your head.

Nabeyaki ramen

by A. Sakakibara

We are on a train to Susaki, about one and a half hours from Kochi city. It’s a humid Sunday in the middle of July. The view from the train is a rural scene. It’s getting more rural and more rural with a lot of nature. “Where are we?”

My mind is full of this question. As we arrive at the station we can see the rice fields, the mountains, the sea and a single stray cat. We can only hear the sound of the wind through the rice fields. We walk about 1 kilometer from the station and pass through a tunnel. After we reach the exit we can see cars heading to one shop. There it is!

Many people are waiting in front of the shop. The shop is famous for Nabeyaki ramen which is popular in Susaki. The name of the shop is Mayumi no mise (Mayumi’s shop). The shop is full of people even though lunch time is over. People are also waiting in front of the shop even though the time is already 3p.m.!

By the way, is this shop very important for Kochi? Maybe not. It’s a small shop in Susaki. However, for Mayumi-san which is the owner of Mayumi no mise might think it is very important like her treasure, but not only for Mayumi-san. Also for the people who lives near the shop, the people who always come to eat, and also for me! Even if it is a small shop in a rural place, it has a big meaning for us.

Many people in the world love ramen, or Chinese noodles. Ramen is a Japanese food but originally it is from China. In Japan ramen is eaten as a “soul food”. We eat it anytime and I’ve never heard a person who doesn’t like ramen. But many people don’t know what nabeyaki is.

In Japanese, nabe is a heavy clay pot with a lid in which stew is usually made. Yaki means to cook over a fire. Nabeyaki is a one-pot dish cooked at the table such as nabeyaki udon. This is popular in Japan. However, nabeyaki ramen is peculiar to Kochi. But why does this attract so many people?

Nabeyaki ramen has been eaten since after World War Ⅱ. A man called Taniguchi Hyoma opened “Taniguchi shokudou” which is an eating house in Susaki. Because of the war, it was difficult to get food other than what was grown locally in Susaki, for example, long green onion, egg, chikuwa and so on. By chance, in front of Taniguchi shokudou there was a poultry shop so they made a soup by poultry that was shared from the shop. From this, poultry was also used for the topping instead of roast pork. (roast pork is often used in ramen) The toppings has not changed from those days.

Nabeyaki ramen was not nabeyaki ramen at the beginning. It was just ramen. However, nabeyaki ramen came about when the owner thought to use a pot not to let the ramen cool while delivering. From this time nabeyaki ramen was added to the menu. Few years later, another shop added nabeyaki ramen to the menu and this shop used an earthen pot that is more better for not to get cool. The origin nabeyaki ramen that is eaten now is from here.

After that nabeyaki ramen became popular among Susaki. At that time there was a public bath in front of Taniguchi shokudou so some people often ate nabeyaki ramen after taking bath. Also there wasn’t any shop that was open till late night so young people hung out at these shops. However, in 1975 the owner of Taniguchi shokudou died and his wife took over. Sadly though, five years later it was closed.

After Taniguchi shokudou was closed customers who had loved Taniguchi shokudou’s nabeyaki ramen opened their own shops to bring back the dish they loved. One of the shops was Mayumi no mise. The owner of the shop Mayumi-san also ate Taniguchi shokudou’s nabeyaki ramen in her youth.

Mayumi no mise didn’t have a menu of nabeyaki ramen when the shop started. They served okonomiyaki and yakisoba. The purpose to start nabeyaki ramen was that she wanted to recreate Taniguchi shokudou’s nabeyaki ramen.

However things didn’t go easily. It took many years to recreate as Taniguchi shokudou’s nabeyaki ramen. Finally she reached to the goal and after that the shop became a specialty store of nabeyaki ramen. Now it is famous for the taste that is the closest to the original shop which was Taniguchi shokudou.

Many people come to eat to this shop. One of the big reason why nabeyaki ramen is now known to many people is because it was introduced in a TV program. I am also one of the viewers. When I saw it I was really attracted. My family was also attracted. Maybe it was because of “ramen”. Not just me, but many other viewers must have felt the same thing.

“After nabeyaki ramen was introduced on TV,” Mayumi said, “people who comes to visit this shop has really increased. They say we watched the show and came here.” As I saw the day I went, there were people not only from Kochi. I looked twice at the car that was parked because the number plate of the car was from Osaka! Now nabeyaki ramen is getting more popular than ever in Kochi.

“It would be great if I could have a shop in Kochi city too,“ says Mayumi-san. “But it is just a dream. Right now my two daughters also makes nabeyaki ramen in the shop so hopefully my daughters will try. As a dream I wish it will steadily spread to many places.”

A small shop in a small town that attracts many people from many places, everybody comes to eat the “soul food.” We don’t mind taking times to go to the shop. Japanese likes to go to eat and try some ramen if they hear there is a good one. This is a new type of ramen and getting popular. A new kind of ramen attracts people. Now we can understand why people want to eat the ramen even if they have to wait a long time. Maybe you can feel if you once come! Mayumi-san says it is a just a dream to spread the shop to many places, but I hope it won’t end with just a dream. I hope this new kind of soul food will continue for many many years. Let’s wait in line and try “Japanese soul food”!

Otoyo Town’s Special Product

by H. Hattori

“What a hot day!” says one woman in front of her house. She and her neighbor are talking with. “Well, do you remember that today is Hange (半夏)?” says neighbor. “Of course. Why don’t we make Hange dango together for our workers? And also, Ginburo, a kind of black bean, are overgrowing here and there. So, let’s make Ginburo sushi too! I’m sure every worker gets happiness.” says woman. Just then, her child come back home and says “I’m home. Hey, mom. I’m really hungry!” “I thought you would say just like that. I made Konchin. Eat it and wait a dinner time.”

Each of prefectures in Japan has some special product. For example, Katsuo no Tataki and Sawachi (皿鉢) are very famous in Kochi. So, how about the scale of cities, towns and villages?

We went to Otoyo Town which lies northern of Kochi in June 30. Otoyo has some special products. Especially, Ginburo beans, Hange dango and konchin are famous in Otoyo, but almost people who are not from Otoyo don’t know these.

Ginburo is a food peculiar to this part of Kochi. Ginburo is called a bean of perpetual youth and longevity.

“That’s because, Ginburo can come up wherever people sow,” Otoyo’s old woman said. “and some Ginburo’s vine can grow up to 2 meters high and we can see many lush green pods in late summer. Bean’s color is black.”

In short, Ginburo is the strong plant and it is a kind of green bean(サヤインゲン). Main cultivation area of Ginburo is Nishitoyonaga(西豊永) area in Otoyo town.

“Otoyo people want Ginburo to become popular,” said a man who lives in Otoyo. “so, we tried to produce many foods from Ginburo.”
Surprisingly, Patisserie working at Joseikan (most famous Japanese-style hotel in Kochi) paid attention to Ginburo and made rolled cake from Ginburo. These cakes contain the soy sauce, but sweet. We can eat it in Joseikan and Kajigamori mountain cottage in Otoyo. And also, we can buy it on Rakuten online store. Moreover, Reiko Takashima who is a famous Japanese actress introduced Ginburo rolled cake in nationwide broadcast TV.

“Now, many people who don’t live in Otoyo know the Ginburo by some big name. I’m really happy.” Otoyo guy said.

“Do you know the meaning of Hange (半夏)?” Otoyo’s old woman asked us. “It is a day in the old calendar of 11th day from the summer solstice. Now, it is a 2nd July and this day is rest of farming day. Well, in the old calender, one year was divided into 24 equal parts. So, there are big differences between old calender and present calender.” She answered herself.
So, Otoyo’s old people cooked Hange dango, ate it, and cured physical fatigue to rest whole day.

“And also, you think that Hange dango and Japanese ginger dango are the same thing, don’t you?”

Many people, and of course, we think that they are same things, but a little different. Hange dango is traditional seasoned. It only uses flour to the dough. On the other hand, Japanese ginger dango is seasoning for children and uses some sugar to the dough. No one can buy Hange dango in stores, but Japanese ginger dango can. We bought it in Kondo store and ate. It was wrapped with a Japanese ginger blade. Size was big and it was beyond our imagination to large amount. Taste is so-so. I thought that elderly people seem to like such taste.

“When I was a young, I used to eat Konchin.” Otoyo’s old woman said. Konchin is a typical and traditional snack. It is a burdock snack. Burdock, wheat flour and soup stock are main ingredients. It is not sweet and color is not good. Some children come back to their home from school; they cannot bear hunger until dinner time. So, their mother has made Konchin previously. However, it has changed since then.

The woman said “Nowadays, there are many delicious snacks, and these are easy to get. So, almost children nowadays don’t eat it and don’t like much.” However, she also said, “My grandchild can eat it to change the seasoning. When I make it, I try to add more sugar and care about soup stock because of color.”

In the respect for the Aged Day, many people get together in front of a community center. A pleasant smell spread around there. Regardless of age or sex, people eat some foods happily. “Hey grandma, what’s this black bean?” says little boy. “It is a Ginburo bean. It’s an auspicious food.” answered his grandmother.

Ginburo, Hange dango, and Konchin, each of them have their own good episode. However, sad to say, they are forgotten by people nowadays except for Ginburo because of other more delicious foods.

Now, the Messiahs were born in Otoyo! They are called “Health Mate”. Another name is “committee that promotes and improved the eating habits” and they are a volunteer group. Many old women join this group and they often try to broaden the traditional dishes.

“We want young people to know the traditional foods, so we sometimes make foods for people.” said woman who is a member of Health Mate. They cook Ginburo sushi and treat to it free every year in the respect for the Aged Day. “Also, children can eat Konchin and Ginburo beans in a school lunch.” She said. They protect their special product.

Thanks to them, we could learn and eat the traditional foods. Special product is a unique thing and the greatest asset a person can have. We should never forget it!

The Fish Story of Katsuo

by Jyo Syowai Villa

“Oh, you are here already!” said the fisherman with his professional smiling reception, “Please wait a minute for I am a little busy”

“No problem,” responded by four of us in the typical polite Japanese styles, “we have plenty of time” Actually, though, we really could not control our desire for the fish that was maybe the most delicious fish we have ever eaten.

“Please come in, please, the rain is heavy. Come here and I will show you fish”

It is an average day in June, and still in the mouldy rainy season. The fish shop is not so crowded as we had expected, so it is easy for us to have a relaxed talk with the fisherman.

The young gun received us warmly, he owns a classic fisherman’s face of and a skillful fisherman’s hand which quickly cut the whole fresh fish into two big pieces in a few minutes and earned our applause.

Of course he is an experienced fisherman. He explained that his family had been doing this job ever since his grandfather. Under the man’s guidance we roast the katsuo smoothly within 10 minutes we start to enjoy the meal.

“Do you think the katsuo will become more and more popular in the future?”

His answer was unexpected. The fisherman did not look hopeful. On the contrary, he give us a reality situation that we should not avoid .

“In the future katsuo will become less and less until one day it will not be able for people to eat .” The expression is firm during his speaking and it seems to be that he really wants everybody understands this fact.

When I ask my classmates at Kochi university and other local residents what they associate with Kochi, they invariably answer “katsuo”. In the whole Japanese nation there is no place that is more fond of katsuo than Kochi. Just have a look at one of the mascots of this town. When the katsuo “Yuru-kyara” gives you a hug, won’t you be surprised!

But hidden behind the katsuo industry’s prosperity is a looming crisis. The amount of katsuo caught by Japanese fishermen is decreasing year by year. That is really a big problem.

According to http://fsf.fra.affrc.go.jp/ an investigation into katsuo maguro’s resource shows that the catches started to fall from 1980. At that time the katsuo that is catched by fishermen all over the world is about 720,000t per year , in the year of 2005 it is about 430,000 per year.although the amount of katsuo still occupies a great proportion in the whole fish ,but from 1984 the tendency of decrease is remarkable

“Some foreign countries do work much more than they should, for example overfishing, Sometimes they even take the young fry to can and sell it to make a lot of profit. For us fishermen that is a disaster “

The crashing of fish stocks can’t just be blamed on foreign countries, though. Beginning in 1960s, the Japanese economy stepped into a growth period and the demand for the land increased rapidly. People started marine land reclamation. And in places like Isahaya, which is called the uterus of the ariake sea, has also been in serious trouble.

“Do you know the kuroshio current?” asked our guide. “Every year fish give birth to their child at the upper reaches of kurosio, and after one year the small fish grow up and swim along with the kurosio to come to Japan and we can get a big harvest. But that is in the past. Nowdays, some people do great damage at the upper reaches of kurosio, and the consequence is that the price of katsuo is going up and up today.”

We don’t need to worry about that katsuo will disappear soon in future but we have to worry that as with the price growth developed. For residents in Kochi, katsuo will change from a common food which can be bought in the supermarket to a kind of luxury food which can be only eaten at the high level hotel.

“In the future, if you want to eat katsuo, the only choice will be to go to Hawaii not kochi”bHe said it just liking taking about a joke. Everybody laughed with a nervously.

But there is another reason for worry that is often ignored: the world is changing and the world’seating habits are changing with them. In the past, Europeans, Americans, Chinese and Indian people refused to eat sashimi. But as the global economy developed, people in those areas have started to accept raw fish. People in America and Europe are in trouble with their obesity caused by the unhealthy diet so they look for fish to improve the situation. As a consequence, the fishing fleets have increased and the fish stocks decreased.

A new quarrel has appeared. The whole world are advising people to take a healthy diet at present in the end it brings a great disaster to fish. That is why when our fisherman commented on the katsuo Yuru-kyara which is Kochi’s character he called it “baka.”

At last when the fish man was asked about his future plan if katsuo disappear, he said “we have no idea but to choice other fish.” I couldn’t help wondering if that is really useful.

Our time is up and we need to go,when we separated, we turn back to have a look at the fisherman’s figure ,he was still standing there showing his strong professional spirit .And we wondered after 5 years or after ten years ,do this gun still have the opportunity to sell the fish with his professional smile?

Chirimen Don : looking at me

by M. Yuki

Something is looking at me with the glare of eyes from a plate…..It’s a Chirimen Jako!!! I loved it before, but without notice, I became not to like it, even feel gross. Their eyes look like as if they are blaming me.

About one month ago, I went to Aki city with my friends for sightseeing and ate lunch there. We got in one restaurant, and the waitress recommended “Chirimen don”, or rice covered with Chirimen Jako. Of course I refused, but my friends ordered. They seemed to be moved by the Chirimen don so much and tried to make me eat that! Then I noticed that there were no bad smell of fish and no glare in their eyes. So I timidly took a bite of it….. “How delicious it is!!!” I was moved. This is my first encounter with Chirimen don.

Chirimen Jako is probably not familiar to most non-Japanese people, but it is very popular here. It is the genetic name of young fish of eel, ayu, and sardine. They hatch in the ocean and have clear body. They are very nutritious food which contain a lot of calcium, vitamin, and minerals.

Chirimen Jako’s “Chirimen” means a kind of silk fabrics that have fine wrinkles on the surface. And “Jako” means different kinds of young fish. The name “Chirimen Jako” is said to come from the view that those fish are spread and dried on the beach as if there are silk fabrics.

Chirimen Jako has another name, “shirasu”. In Kochi, it is popular to call them Chirimen Jako, but in other cities, people usually distinguish those fish by size and dry level.

Aki city has been famous for Chirimen Jako for a long time.

According to fishermen’s cooperative in Aki, the catch last year was 612t. It means that in the Aki city, Chirimen Jako occupy about ninety percent of fishry share. And In catch of Kochi prefecture, it always comes on first or second.

Fishermen dry Chirimen Jako in the sun without any machines by a method passed on from the past. It brings about good flavor and soft texture. Finally, a lot of Chirimen Jako are covered piping hot rice and put vinegar of yuzu, or a kind of citrus. This has been eaten as home cooking and liked everyone there.

Recently, there is a movement that make Chirimen don special food to appeal Aki outside. The Aki Chirimen don Association was organized by some different volunteers like Aki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, JA Tosa Aki, and so on two years ago. This group is leading the movement. To be specific about their activities, they sell Chirimen don at events for public relations, produce sightseeing menus like experiencing drying Chirimen Jako, and makes Websites, brochure and a map for eating tour of Chirimen don. On the map, there are 15 stores that serve Chirimen don now and each stores devise the flavor and topping. We can enjoy 15 different Chirimen don!!!

Last year, to promote PR, they got a powerful partner “Chirimen don chan”. She was born by Yanase Takashi, who made “Anpanman” or very famous character in Japan. She is a cute girl who has eyes like Chirimen Jako and a small mouth.

The Aki Chirimen don association are also trying to make Chirimen don popular as a “B-grade dish”: which are delicious, but have reasonable prices and we can eat with nothing special.

According to Yamamoto Miei, who is a chairman of the Aki Chirimen don association, “Chirimen don stands out in them because it has simple taste while other “B-grade dishes “tend to be heavy and rich. Besides it matches the health boom and will be loved by people of all age.”

Chirimen Don-chan

In April 2012, Chirimen don has topped “TheTosa B-1 Grand Prix” which is food festival of “B- grade dishes” in Kochi prefecture. It helped Chirimen don to be known by many people. Now they are thinking of participating in the contest of “B-grade dishes” on a national this year.

Those are so meaningful activities.

“They connect to promote using materials of primary industry, processing and selling them in the city. This flow can promote sightseeing, make employment, and many good things.” said
Ozaki Masanao, governor of Kochi.

Aki is one of the cities in Kochi that are suffered by serious aging and depopulation, and they are great help for enlivening Aki city.

I visited Aki and ate Chirimen don again. The store I went this time served Chirimen don with grated radish and myoga, or Japanese ginger. And the store’s original vinegar of yuzu is so fresh. It made me feel like ordering second and third helpings. There I asked an old woman what she thought of Chirimen don.

“Uh, for me, Chirimen don don’t have the freshness,” she answered, “because I have grown up eating Chirimen don. But I’m happy that many people come to Aki to eat that. I feel something proud of in my childhood.” and laughed.

Then I told about my story that I scared of Chirimen Jako, but somehow I could eat it and feel delicious here.

“Yes,” she answered, “it’s because Chirimen Jako in Aki have hospitality in their eyes.” and laughed again warmly.

 

Please visit Aki in a sunny day. You can see many white spots where Chirimen Jako are spread on the beach. And walk around Aki with Chirimen don map. You will be welcomed by Chirimen Jako and people there with great hospitality.

The Phantom Fermented Tea: Goishi Tea in Otoyo

by M. Watanabe

The women are talking cheerfully. “Irashai! Come in, welcome!” they say when we enter the roadside station (道の駅) named Osugi (大杉).

It’s a very humid day in June, and it has rained violently in Otoyo town, about one hour from Kochi. Beautiful river, green forest…and a little lonely roadside…along the road from Otoyo interchange, we can find roadside station, Osugi. Half of the place is a restaurant, the other half is shop. It is a little smaller than other roadside stations, but like other stations, some products were sold as usual..

Among the various products, something caught our eye because they have been advertized on TV recently. The prices of the products are about 1000-3000 yen! The name of the product is goishi tea (碁石茶)!

Goishi tea leaves are square, and the color is black, so it looks like “goishi” (the stone when we use on the game, igo (囲碁), Chinese game.) The taste and smell of goishi tea are similar to green tea in Japan(緑茶), but there are also a little sour taste and smell.

Kochi is suitable place for growing tea leaves. According Kochi prefecture’s website, tea trees called sancha (山茶) are growing naturally in Kochi and lands in Kochi are suitable for their growing. Almost all their growing areas are close to the upper reaches of big river. Fog appearing there make the quality of tea better. Tea made in Kochi are valued and are popular in Japan. About 80% of them are shipped to Shizuoka!. Green tea(煎茶), coarse tea(番茶), roasted tea(ほうじ茶), and etc…are made in Kochi. Otoyo is one of the famous place producing tea in Kochi.

According to the woman who is working at ticket counter Osugi and looks about 60 years old, surprisingly, it was not such a popular drink locally.

“Goishi tea was not drunk so much in Otoyo in the past” says the old woman at the ticket counter. “It was produced in Otoyo to sell to other town in the past. Goishi tea goes well with water that has a little salt, so it is sold the region where is able to get enough water including salt.”

“It is sold to Okubo to Tokushima or sold to Tajikawa to Ehime.” She explained, “I drank goishi tea with hot salty water”,like the past.

Goishi teas’ hometown is China or Myanmar and have long history.

According to the Otoyo town’s website and goishi cha museum’s (碁石茶博物館) website, goishi tea were exchanged for salt. The origin of goishi tea is said to be Otoyo from Unnan in China and Myanmar, and the history of goishi tea is very old. We can find it on the document in Edo period.

The number of farm producing goishi tea is only seven to eight now. This is one reason why goishi tea are so expensive and called phantom tea.

The old woman also told us how to produce goishi tea.

“At first, when the season is nearly now, in summer, farmers cut down tree-use hard leaves. Next, they steam the tea leaves. After that, farmers tear off them into the kouji (麹、malted rice) and ferment them. Fermented leaves are cut to square, the figure of goishi tea leaves, at last, leaves are dried completely by sun. The works are much influenced by the weather and are needed a lot of works. So it is necessary to employ some people. Farms employ local people in Otoyo. A lot of works and employments makes the price of goishi tea higher, this is also the reason why goishi tea is expensive.”

Goishi tea is good for our health? A man told us his interesting episode about goishi tea.

The clerk working a mountain villa, Kajigamori, is about 30-40 years old, and wearing spectacles gave us some cup of goishi tea kindly. In there, some cheerful women are about 50-70 years old were working with him. He said ”I challenged to go on diet, so I drank goishi tea. When I drunk it, I felt hungrier. So I went to doctor to know the truth. I found the answer then. Goishi tea can make our bowel movement lively. By that, it promote my appetite. That is why I missed diet is that.”

If we always take goishi tea, won’t we catch flu?

Goishi tea is said to be prevent from flu. According to one article by Kochi-shinbun (March 14th 2012), Kochi university and Otoyo town having investigated to reveal that, by having had students in Otoyo junior high school drinking goishi tea since 2009. From this investigation, students who are taking goishi tea tend to be harder to be flu. Goishi tea have the possibility of prevention of flu.

From these, we can know the power of goishi tea to our healthy and there are possibilities of promotion our life more.

The man working at a mountain villa, Kajigamori hopes goishi tea will be more famous for Otoyo.

Goishi tea has been introduced on TV lately. There are also some products related to goishi tea sold, for example, goishi udon, goishi tea yokan, goishi tea ice cream…and so on. Moreover, we can buy goishi tea on the internet, or Kochi city, Sunday market and Saenba town, and also we can drink it canned. It has drawn public attention as a healthier tea. Goishi tea has the role of attracting many people to the special character of Otoyo.

参考文献 References

Tosa Jiro: Jiro to be like Jiro

By Keisuke Toda

It was sunny day that the sun beat down unsparingly, as if it was a sign of summer. I visited Mr. and Mrs. Komatsu to eat phantom chicken that is called “Tosa Jiro”. The bus moved through a steep, narrow mountain road for 40 minutes from Aki station, to the little village of Hatayama where there was a guest house “Hatayama onsen ikoi no ie” (畑山温泉 憩の家)” run by Mr. and Mrs. Komatsu of Aki city, Kochi, Japan.

The guest house is surrounded by greenery and ajisai (Japanese hydrangea) blossoms in full glory and this good atmosphere made my heart leap with anticipation. The guest house also serves as a restaurant and there is also hot spring. That day, I had a rich chicken lunch in the guest house and learned so much about the Tosa Jiro chicken.

I was served chicken sashimi that included parts of organs, tataki that is breast meat lightly grilled on the outside, a bowl of rice topped with chicken and eggs cooked together. The dishes were so delicious because Tosa Jiro chicken has a strong clear and juicy chicken taste. And I had never eaten chicken’s sashimi before. I ate chicken’s heart, white meat, liver, gizzard, cookstomb, and milt. Each part had a lightly sweet, amazing taste.

Tosa Jiro is a kind of chicken which is a first-filial-generation hybrid by crossing a male “Tosa Jidori” originally comes from Japan and a female “Rhode Island Red” originally comes from Japan.

“‘Tosa Jidori’ is a Kochi prefectural natural monument,” explained Ms. Komatsu, “so, it is forbidden to eat ‘Tosa Jidori’.” But its offspring, ‘Tosa Jiro’, is quite delicious.

Ordinary, chicken meat cannot be eaten raw, but Tosa Jiro is because of the special methods they use to raise them.

“Broilers are the main chicken that are sold in common supermarkets” said Keiko Komatsu. “They are raised for about 30 days, given a large amount of food, and shipped to market. The bigger chicken farmers make,” she pointed out, “the more they can get money. For the poultry industry, the main goal is high quantity at low cost. And it’s not an easy job because the cost of chickens is 20 to 30 yen per 100g. But most growers don’t consider the chicken’s healthy and don’t raise it to be eaten raw. In short, people usually eat immature chickens that have been made fat unnaturally.”

But that’s not what Komatsu-san does.

“Tosa Jiro are raised by a completely different method,” she explains. “They are raised for 150 days without rushing in an environment as close to nature as possible, and shipped as a healthy, adult Chicken.” They breed their chickens in large place on the ground and feed them mainly non-modified corn,and fish meal, rice, organically produced vegetables and so on. They also eat grit for their gizzards.

“This is what makes Tosa Jiro tastes so delicious,” Seiichi said.

A chicken’s gizzard is the thick-walled part of a bird’s stomach used for griding food, typically with grit. But it is still working without food, and grit are fined out by rubbing against each other. Fine grit is pulverized and absorbed as minerals in the blood and circulate around the body. It causes a loss of body odor in the chicken.

Chickens were originally prey in in the wild and developed this means to protect themselves from predators. In the modern bird, the meat loses the chicken’s peculiar odor and becomes delicious as a result.

Like many rural villages in Kochi, Hatayama has been in long, slow decline. In 1954, it merged with Aki city and as a result, the population began decreasing. Many local people left there to look for work, but Komatsu is one of the few stubborn holdouts. He determined that if there were few jobs, he’d better just make one for himself.

“I knew if I built a business around Tosa Jiro chicken, it’s gonna be the only one like it,” said Seiichi Komatsu. He and his wife are farmers, the only people who are raising Tosa Jiro for meat in Japan (other farmers raise it for its eggs). Komatsu was once a carpenter, but he quit his job and started the new Tosa Jiro industry in 1988.

There were many problems about breeding Tosa Jiro, and he has gotten through then.
There are some problems about Tosa Jiro now. But those problems will make Tosa Jiro special.

“If everybody can make it easily, it won’t true a local speciality, ” said Seiichi Komatsu.

Now, 5000~7000 people, including celebrities and magazine writers visit them to seek ‘Tosa Jiro’ per a year. But celebrity is not Komatsu’s main focus. It’s all about chicken.

“I can PR, appeal Tosa Jiro with confidence,” said Keiko, “for people who are seeking security, safety, delicious food. I think Tosa Jiro is great chicken. And the business might be critical for the local area. But, I don’t want to think about only the economy.”

She put all her cards on the table. “I truly want to breed Jiro to be like Jiro.”

Link: Tosajiro.com

Nature Parks in Otoyo

by Y. Nakagoshi

Once upon a time, a young girl went to visit a house under a waterfall at night. “May I spend the night?” she asked the master.

“Yes, of course,” he said. However, he began to distrust her because of the strange request she made next.

“While I am sleeping, please pour water over my body.”

“Why did she say such a strange thing?” he thought. He stealthily opened a sliding door of the room she was sleeping in and in his doubt stole a glance at her.

Surprisingly, a big snake coiled her up!! Continue reading Nature Parks in Otoyo

Japanese Sake in a Small Town

by K. Miwa

“Welcome, please come in,” says a smiling man in his 60’s who sticks his out out of the window.

The place was where the wonderful smells of a “history”. There were few lights, a little dark, and a cool air touched skin. There were a lot of tools and bottle of alcohol, around. The name of this place, Nishioka-Syuzo, and a Japanese sake is made in here. Continue reading Japanese Sake in a Small Town