Studying Japanese with local vegetables

On one of the rare sunny days during the rainy season, a few Chinese, Korean and Indonesian students are gathered in a classroom in the Asakura Fureai Center, near Kochi University, for an unusual language lesson. But instead of a whiteboard, there are three big tables with gas cookers. Continue reading Studying Japanese with local vegetables

Nepalese Life in Kochi

“Irasyaimase, douzo , nan mei sama desuka (いらっしゃいませ、どうぞ、何名様ですか),” asks Hari from the kitchen of the Nepali and Indian restaurant “Rita.” Indian music is playing in the background, Posters of Hindu religion hang like curtains and a smiling Nepalese woman appears. Continue reading Nepalese Life in Kochi

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.
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Katsuo no tataki: Kochi’s Most Famous Dish

IMG_1151It is a nice warm afternoon, perfect for visiting the restaurant ‘Katsuo Fune’ near Katsurahama Beach on an empty stomach. In the huge ship-shaped building, visitors have a chance to experience grilling katsuo no tataki. The staff greets you at the front door and asks which course you would like to eat: Katsuo no tataki teishoku (with rice and miso soup) or Katsuo no tataki tanpin (a la carte). After ordering visitors are handed a long pole with a huge slab of katsuo (“bonito”) skewered on the end. Then Nishimoto-san, the head cook, guides you to the grilling station and prepares the rice straw fire for grilling. Continue reading Katsuo no tataki: Kochi’s Most Famous Dish

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

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

Etrumeus teres: ウルメイワシ

By Y. Iwata

Introduction

image00A round herring is a fish often eaten in Japan. However, few people know very much about a round herring. Therefore, I think that I would like to introduce a round herring.

Description&Taxonomy

The round herring belongs to order herring clupeidae herring, and if it grows, it will be set to about 30 cm.Since eyes seem to be greatly wet, it is called the round herring。The back side of the color of the body is indigo, and the belly side is silver.Moreover, the lower jaw has projected before for a while rather than the upper jaw.

Range & Ecology

The round herring inhabits the warm and shallow sea in the world, and, of course, also inhabits the Tosa bay. A round herring goes north from spring in summer, and goes south from autumn in winterTherefore, it appears in the Hokkaido coast in summer.Food is plankton.

Use & Conservation

A round herring is used as a dried food, and is also served as sashimi or grilled with salt.

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.

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”!