Onomi: a place of wonderful products

It’s the year 586, and a famer named Chozaemon is climbing a mountain ridge. He looks north from top of a tree and finds a wide,  beautiful plain between two mountains where no human has so far set foot. A beautiful river is flowing. There are also various wild animals. He is so pleased he names it “Onomi”. [o] meaning [big, 大], [no] meaning [field, 野] and [mi] meaning [look, 見]. All these years later, his find gives us many good things. Continue reading Onomi: a place of wonderful products

Agri-Kubokawa

Near the exit at the end of the express way in Shimanto township, there is a crowed place. Some people are eating grilled pork and ice cream, sitting and talking and smoking. In the wooden building, some local agricultural products are sold and there is a restaurant. There is a wonderful place of natural bueauty. It is “Agri-Kubokawa”. Continue reading Agri-Kubokawa

Grilled eggplant ice cream?!

Along the road to Aki city, perched beside the ocean, there is a small shop with an orange advertisement: “Grilled Eggplant Ice Cream”. Inside, a sweet vanilla smell is drifting, and there are various ice creams in the showcase. With the first bite of grilled eggplant ice cream, the charcoal-grilled flavor spread to the mouth, never before tasted. After that first bite, the mouth demands one more.
Continue reading Grilled eggplant ice cream?!

Kochi Organic Market in Ike: Let’s Eat Organic!

There is endless conversations between customers and sellers. There’s children’s laughter, and a clear singing voice by a local performer that makes a more relaxed air. There are fresh organic and familiar vegetables, daily dishes made of organic vegetables, sugar free sweets and handmade crafts. But there are no northern European vegetables. Continue reading Kochi Organic Market in Ike: Let’s Eat Organic!

Kochi Ice: an inspired ice cream company

Hamamachi, owner and dreamer of Kochi Ice
Fumiya Hamamachi, owner and dreamer of Kochi Ice

“If you don’t beat the drum, you can’t know what it sounds like.” (utan taiko ha saran) These are the words that inspire Fumiya Hamamachi, president and CEO of Kochi Ice, a local ice cream company. “My mother taught me these words”, Hamamachi said. “They are my treasure.” He believes in this saying so much that it led him to become the producer of handmade premium ice cream. Continue reading Kochi Ice: an inspired ice cream company

Dear Bear, From Dabada

image06Once upon a time, there was a bear which was kept in a bar in a big city. One night, one of the customers got very drunk and approached the bear. For a joke, he gave his alcohol to the bear. The bear sniffed it, then turned away from it. Other customers also started to give the bear different kinds of drink, but the bear wasn’t interested in any of them. One night after that, a man from Kochi came into the bar. When he heard about the interesting story about the bear, he remembered he had a bottle of alcohol which was produced in his home town. He put the bottle in front of the bear as the other customer has done. At first, the bear gave one glance at it and sniffed it slightly. His reaction was no different from other times, but in the next moment, things were totally different. After sniffing the drink, the bear tasted it a little bit. Suddenly, the bear took a hold the bottle and started to gulp it down! All people who were drinking in the bar were surprised about it. At last, the bear finished drinking and fell asleep. The next morning, the bear had bad hangover. The amazing alcohol’s name was a Japanese shōchū called “Dabada Hiburi (ダバダ火振り)”. Continue reading Dear Bear, From Dabada

Local Produce and Consumption

Here is Shimanto city, my grandmother’s home. Kochi in March, in the early morning around 4 o’clock, chickens are clucking,and people wake up. Walking along the river, people are cutting grass, plowing a field and picking rape blossoms. They work hard under the shining sun, on their head with sweat. Around noon My grandmother harvests rape blossoms and got on the car and went to JA to sell product.

Continue reading Local Produce and Consumption

Yamamomo : Myrica rubra

By M. T.

Introduction

ƒ„ƒ}ƒ‚ƒ‚Myrica rubra is called yamamomo. It is a subtropical tree grown for its sweet, crimson to dark purple-red, edible fruit. Its fruit is a sweet-sour delicious. The Japanese name suggests the word peach, but Yamamomo and peach are totally different plant. Yamamoto is a Prefectural flower of Kochi.

Description and Taxonomy

Yamamomo can grow to a height of 10~20 meters. The leaf is 10 cm,dark green with cortex. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The root system is 5~60 cm deep, with no obvious taproot. The fruit is spherical, 1.5~2 cm in diameter , with a knobby surface. The surface color is typically a deep red, red , it seemed to display small red beads. It matures in July from June. The flesh is sweet and very tart. At the center of the flesh is a big signal seed.

It called Morella rubra Loureiro; Myrica rubra var. acuminata Nakai. It is usually cited as Myrica rubra. Yamamomo is a small family of about 30 types. For a long time it was said that family was separated by three genus, and many kinds were classified in the Myrica genus, and Yamamomo was included.

Range and Ecology

Yamamomo is native to eastern Asia, Japan, China. It grows in the warm place and is strong in heat. In Japan, it grows wild in lowland and the mountainous district from Kanto and to the south in Japan. In the south in southern Honshu, it is an important tree class constituting the forest in unproductive land such as the shore or the dry ridge of the low mountain. . It tolerates poor acidic soils, because it lives together with bacteria called franckia performing nitrogen fixation.Therefore it may be used for tree planting.

Use

The fruit of the Yamamomo is eaten fresh and is processed into jam and wine. There are two main types of Yamamomo, a sour type used for making dried fruit and a sweet type used for juice and fresh eating. So the bark include a lot of tannin, it may be used as medical use. It might be planted a tree in the fields and moutains. Nowadays it is planted in a park and the street as a roadside tree. How to propagate is by grafting and layering.

Viewing

The main producing center is Tokushima and Kochi in Japan. The seasonal time of Yamamomo is a short period of less than one mouth. So it may be said that Yamamoto is a precious fruit letting you feel the season. If you would like to eat Yamamomo, go to Kochi (or Tokushima!) in the rainy season.

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.

 

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.