FOOD CULTURE ANECDOTES Part 1(2)-1 2017/09/14（Thu）
♪ Cherry of Yamagata: Special Cherry “Sato Nishiki”
☆Many kinds of cherries can be harvested in Yamagata Prefecture. Among Yamagata cherries, “Sato Nishiki” is positioned as the king, and it is evaluated as the finest cherry even in the cherries of whole Japan. Eisuke Sato at Higashine village (now Higashine city) in Yamagata Prefecture has started cherry breed improvement from 1912 (the Taisho Period). He tried first multiplication of species “Ogyoku” with pecies “ Napoleon”. “Ogyoku” has the advantage of good taste but has the disadvantage that can not keep for long. On the other hand, although the fruit of “Napoleon” tastes rather sour, it can keep for long time. Hereafter, Eisuke has made further effort to obtain a species that has sweet taste having pleasant acidity, a property of not decaying, and an easy property for growing. So that he could obtain some cherry trees possessing a fruit which contains such properties in 1922. Eisuke further continued making efforts to select the most excellent species from his trees and eventually he succeeded in finding the tree he desired. This tree produced the most excellent fruit, that is “Sato Nishiki” in 1928 (16 years have passed since the first multiplication). The tree became the original tree of “Sato Nishiki”.
Actually Eisuke’s success was impossible to create “Sato Nishiki” without the cooperation of Tosaku Okada in Higasine Village.Tosaku supported Eisuke by making cherry seedlings which were from the seeds made by Eisuke.
Tosaku had a hard time funding the growing conditions of the seedlings. Eisuke proposed first the name of “Dewa Nishiki” (in old time “Dewa” was the area where covered a part of Yamagata and a part of Niigata Prefectures) for “Sato Nishiki”, but Tosaku praised Eisuke’s achievement and claimed the name of “Sato Nishiki”. Because of this anecdote, many people appreciated the broad personality of Tosaku. Eat “Sato Nishiki” and other Yamagata’s cherries !
♪ Beef of Yamagata: “Yonezawa Gyu”
☆Yonezawa city is located in southern part of Yamagata Prefecture and is near Miyagi Prefecture.The Uesugi family dominated the area around Yonezawa as the lords of ”Yonezawa Clan” mainly in the Edo period.
☆“Cow” is expressed as “Ushi” in Japanese, and “Beef” as “Gyu”. For example, the well known “Kobe Ushi” is a species of cow and “Kobe Gyu” is the beef of “Kobe Ushi”. “Tajima Ushi” is the common breeding cattle for famous Japanese cows (“Wagyu” in Japanese) such as “Kobe Ushi”, “Matsuzaka Ushi”, “Hida Ushi” and other cows those which produce super high class of beefs, “Kobe Gyu”, “Matsuzaka Gyu”, “Hida Gyu” etc. The breeding cattle of “Yonezawa Ushi” is also “Tajima Ushi” and its beef is called “Yonezawa Gyu”.
☆Yozan Uesugi, the lord of the “Yonezawa Clan” opened a school ( named Kojokan)
For children of own clan when he was 17 years old. Charles Henry Dallas, who was an English teacher at this school, ate “Yonezawa Gyu” from nostalgia. He was surprised by its excellent taste. So, when he finished his term at the Yonezawa Clan’s school, he brought a “Yonezawa Ushi” to Yokohama to serve “Yonezawa gyu” to his friends in Yokohama. After they ate “Yonezawa Gyu”, all of them praised the outstanding taste of the beef. This is the beginning of the history of “Yonezawa Gyu” since the friends spreaded their excellent taste evaluation for “Yonezawa Gyu”.
“Yonezawa Gyu” is a beef worth to eat!
♪ The first lord of ”Sendai Clan”, ”Masamune Date”, and rice of Miyagi Prefecture
☆Politics by samurai in Japan began by opening “Kamakura Shogunate” in Kamakura in 1185 by Yoritomo Minamoto. This is the beginning of the Kamakura Period. Since then the politics by samurai lasted until 1867. Meanwhile, several superior generals (“Shogun”) who were excelled in military force, politics and cultures, such as Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa were came out. Among them, Ieyasu is said to be the most excellent “Shogun”. By his unrivaled superior brain, he made strong army and dominated the whole Japan with outstanding tactics. He opened “Tokugawa Shogunate” at Edo (Tokyo now) in 1603 and maintained the Tokugawa’s Shogunate until 1867. This 264 years is called the “Edo Period”. Ieyasu has done excellent politics and cultivated many distinctive cultures including food culture in Edo (called “Edo Culture”).
Such the strongest Shogun, Ieyasu, was afraid of the conspiracy of a man constantly. That man is ”Masamune Date”, the first lord of the “Sendai Clan”. He was born in Yonezawa and built his castle in Sendai (capital city of Miyagi Prefecture). He was smart, brave and strong in battle. Accordingly, he always held an ambition to conquer whole countries of Japan by defeating Ieyasu. So Ieyasu constantly paid attention to Masamune.
On the other hand, Masamune was a very educated politician who also pay attention to culture including food culture and clan economy. He has focused his attention that Kitakami River, Hirose River and other rivers with rich water flow in Sendai Plain. He thought that the environment of Sendai plain is suitable for cultivating rice, and strongly promoted development new paddy fields by using his subordinates. He already thought that Edo would be the largest rice market.
The 2 nd and 3rd lords of the clan, promoted the flood control works in addition to the promotion of extensive development of paddy fields. Consequently about 30000tons of rice were sold to Edo in 1730. By this we are surprised at Masamune’s excellent business talent.
Now, ”Hitomebore”, “Sasanishiki”, “Manamusume” and “Datemasayume” harvested from Masamune’s paddy fields are brand rices of Miyagi Prefecture and these become rices representing Japan.
♪ Grilled Beef Tongue of Sendai, “Gyutan Yaki”
☆”Gyutan Yaki” is one of the most well known local cuisines of Sendai whichi was made by Keishiro Sano in 1950. Keishiro was the master of a grilled chicken restaurant (Yakitori-ya in Japanese). Immediately after the end of World WarⅡ(after 1945), Keishiro was thinking about serving customers grilled beef and pork cuisines in addition to “Yakitori”. A friend who heard such Keishiro’s idea advised him to try the beef tongue . Soon he went to eat beef tongue stew and was impressed with the excellent taste of beef tongue, so he decided to make a grilled cuisine using beef tongue. However, at that time there were very few beef cattle in Miyagi Prefecture, so there were few beef tongue. Accordingly, he had hard time getting beef tongue. He performed trial and error for the way to cut tongue beef, for seasoning and for grilling for Japanese preference. As a result, he found the ways that were cutting beef tongue thinly, seasoning with salt and pepper (left overnight) and grilling by high fire for 2 or 3minutes (inside of the tongue beef keeps pinky coulor). “Gyutan Yaki” becomes a presentative local cuisine in Sendai. You can also eat “Gyutan Tataki” (lightly roasted Gyutan) and various Gyutan cuisines now. Let’s taste “Gyutan” !
♪ Great East Japan Earthquake (Tohoku Earthquake)”
☆”Tohoku District” includes 6 prefectures which are Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures. The coasts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures face the Pacific Ocean. The coasts are called “Sanriku Coast”. On the other hand, the coasts of Akita and Yamagata Prefectures face the Sea of Japan. The coast of Aomori Prefecture faces the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean and the Tsugaru Channel which is belongs to the Sea of Japan.
☆On March 11 of 2011, a huge earthquake which indicated Magnitude 9.0 occurred, This earthquake was called “Great East Japan Earthquake (Tohoku Earthquake)”. The epicenter of this earthquake was about 130km off the coast of Miyagi and its maximum seismic intensity (Japan Meteological Agency Seismic) was 7. Furthermore, the shake of the earthquake was felt throughout whole Japan. This earthquake was accompanied by huge seismic wave (“Tsunami”) whose height was recorded to be 6m~10m or more depending on the place (the height varies according to analysis of measured values by experts and organizations). The total number of dead and missing persons due to this earthquake and tsunami reached approximately 18500 people mainly in Tohoku District.
☆Now, about 6.5 years passed since the earthquake occurred. By the efforts and supports from citizen of the prefectures and all Japanese power (Japanese government, local governments, organizations, industries and Japanese citizen), restoration and recovery from the damage of the earthquake and tsunami have advanced considerably although it is not perfect. Accordingly, in the prefectures of Tohoku District the food environment is restoring vigorously.
☆The Tohoku District is very important and meaningful area for Japanese food culture. So local cuisines of Ishinomaki City and Higashimatsusima City both of which were suffered tremendous damages by the “Tohoku Earthquake” may be introduced in the following part.
♪ Local Cuisine of Ishinomaki area, “Kinka Sushi”
☆Ishinomaki City was recorded to be upper 6 in Japanese seismic intensity scale and about 8 m of Tsunami.
☆Ishinomaki has produced many vegetables and fruits such as strawberry, tomato, spinach, apple, fig and others. Especially the amount of landing of more than 200 kinds of fish such as mackerel, bonito and urchin landing at the Ishinomaki Fishing Port was No. 3 in Japan before the earthquake, and the amount is rapidly recovering thereafter.
☆”Kinka Sushi”：“Kinka Mountain (Kinka Island)” is an island which belongs to Ishinomaki City. Sea around the Kinka island is located at the most east direction in Miyagi Prefecture and sorounded by the Pacific Ocean. So, this area is known as one of the leading fishing ground in Japan. “Kinka sushi” which is “Nigiri Sushi (hand-rolled sushi or sushi shaped by hand)” made of seafood caught the sea around “Kinka Island”. So, fish and shellfish for “Sushi-topping” have freshness and superb tast. Especially, it is the greatest feature that all of “Sushi-topping” used for “Kinka Sushi” are seasonal fish and shellfish.
♪ Local cuisine of Matsushima area (Higashimatsushima city and Matsushima town), “Kaki Meshi”
☆Higashimatsushima city and Matsushima town were recorded to be upper 6 and below 6 Japanese seismic intensity scale, respectively, and similarly about 6 m and 4 m of Tsunami, respectively.
☆”Kaki” is oister. The scale of cultivation of “Kaki” and the yielding amount of the cultivated “Kaki” in Miyagi Prefecture is No.2 in Japan that is next position of Hirosima Prefecture. But the equipment of oyster cultivation in Miyagi Prefecture was devastated by ”Tohoku Earthquake”. By the efforts of the oyster farmers and related people and the supports from the oyster farmers in Hiroshima and France, recovery from the damage of the earthquake and tsunami have advanced considerably. However, although in 2015 the yielding amount of ”Kaki” in Miyagi Prefecture are recovered to No.2 position in Japan, the amount was about 50% of that in 2010 (one year before “Tohoku Earthquake”). Reconstruction is proceeding smoothly now.
☆Higashimatsushima and Matsushima are main grounds for cultivation of “Kaki”. Since both area face “Matsushima Bay” where is thriving in “Kaki” cultivation, many local cuisines using “Kaki” are made in these area. Among the Kaki’s cuisines, “Kaki Meshi” (a food of cooked rice mixed with cooked “Kaki”) may be introduced below.
☆”Kaki Meshi”: First add water, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and salt to “Kaki” and boil to get broth. Rice is cooked with this broth and mixes with boiled oyster. Finally put Mitsuba. (Japanese parsley) on the top. You can eat there other Kaki’s cuisines such as “Kaki Don” (bowl of cooked rice with oyster on top), “Kaki Nabe” (hot-pot with oyster), “Kaki Furai” (fried oyster), “Kaki no Sunomono” ( oyster in sweetened vinegar), etc.
☆Matsushima Bay area is well known as the “Three Great Views of Japan” since the Edo Period. The other two of the Great View are “Amanohashidate” in Kyoto Prefecture and “Miyajima” in Hiroshima Prefecture”.
♪ Next will be mentioned for the food culture of Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures as Food Culture Anecdotes Part 1 (2)-2.
Food Culture Anecdotes Part 1 (2)-2 (Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures) 2017/09/21
Refer to Food Culture Anecdotes Part 1 (1) (Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Akita Prefectures) 2017/08/21