On 9th April 2016 I was staying with my new friend Tei Kobayashi in the mountains in a lovely village, Nogura, above Ueda in Nagano Prefecture. I was put in touch with Tei through a mutual friend in Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN), Caroline Ho-Bich-Tuyen Dang, when I put out a call for an interpreter when visiting the farm with the underground udo forcing caverns in Tokyo: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=8284 and https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=7499 Tei had kindly agreed to travel down to help out! She took me to see udo (Aralia cordata) being grown on a small farm in her village with a villager who had knowledge of sansai. The new shoots were just appearing through a thick layer of rice husks. Here’s a video and some pictures of this beautiful place! Thanks again to you Tei for your hospitality without which this would never have been possible! There will hopefully be more posts from the visit with Tei as soon as time allows! Tei starts talking about another use of rice husks, in nukazuke, fermented vegetables in rice bran (nuka), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nukazuke (Thanks to Tei for the following clarification: I just wanted to comment on the Udo cultivation process. I just learned that it is not “nuka “ but “momigara” that the plants are grown in to keep them white. “Momigara is the outermost husk of the rice kernel. “Nuka” is the inner rice hull it is very finely ground into an almost powdery substance. Nuka is the outer covering of the rice that is removed to make it white…it is often polished after the hull is removed”.)
Showing us Chengiopanaxsciadophylloides (koshiabura) which had yet to emerge:
In early April 2016, on my study tour to Japan, I was invited to the mountain home of Ken Takewaki (and Masama) for a short visit. I wrote about Ken’s home and the shock of waking to new snow after 20C the day before in the lowlands back in April (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=6357)! Despite the snow, Ken took us on a trip around the local area (Sugadaira in Nagano) and we had a walk around a local wetland nature reserve, before Ken took us on a long walk up through the forest where he had recently taken over a piece of land in a clearing to grow vegetables. All the signs were in Japanese, so I don’t know the names of many of the plants we saw, but here’s the pictures:
Each day on the trip to Japan had been equally amazing as the day before with new plant and food discoveries all the way!! The venue for my talk in Tokyo was the art/photography studio belonging to a guy called Ken Takewaki. It turned out he’d spent a lot of time in the UK working on organic farms and knew the owner of Poyntzfield Nursery in Scotland well and I’d already planned to try to visit Poyntzfield on my Scotland trip in September! Knowing that I was heading for the mountains after Tokyo, Ken kindly invited me to visit his mountain home! What a place and the food was out of this world! Ken and his lady Masami had made a special effort to feed me sansai!
The next morning it was as if I’d been transported home in my dreams as there was new snow on the ground at the Ken’s home at 1300m. The day before it has been over 20C at 600m! Thanks so much to Tei, who I got to know through Caroline Ho Bich-Tuyen Dang, a member of Norwegian Seed Savers, for showing me so much of her village near Besshou (Ueda) in Nagano Prefecture and sharing all the amazing sansai and sake and for taking me to Ken’s place! More on Besshou later when I get time!Thank you so much too Ken and Masami for your hospitality!