Off-the-Eaten Path Food Experience in Japan. "Meet the People and Places behind your Plates! "

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Visit the ingredients (1) Cultivation of millet and traditional knowledge inherited to Seya village in Kyoto

We made a one night trip to Seya shuraku (Seya settlement) located in northern part of Kyoto prefecture, 2 hrs away from the city, to learn about traditional knowledge and livelihood.

Varieties of millet, such as awa (foxtail millet) and takakibi (sorghum) are inherited from ancestors of the lands in Seya.
yakihata (slush-and-burn farming) was customary conducted for the cultivation of millet.
Now, it is banned, and the crops are almost forgotten. Less and less villagers grow millet in Japan.

In the shuraku (settlement), old folk houses thatched by bamboo grass are sparsely located along the hill.

Konnyaku (glutinous food made from devils tongue), Adzuki beans, soba (buckweat) , tororo aoi (sunset hibiscus), kouzo (paper mulbery) are cultivated in the backyard farms.

varieties of indigenous crops are only inherited for subsistence throughout a year.
fiber crops and crops for offering are also among them.

At night, lecture about millet cultivation and Fujiori (wisteria weaving) was organized.

It was believed to have lost, but found that 8 women in Seya were continuously weaving wisteria in 1940s.
Since then, Fujiori hozonkai preserves the traditional weaving method.

see this page about Fujiori

We made a tour to a millet farm, and paddy fields in the second day.

Villagers told us how to estimate yields by the amount of piles hanged on the Inaki (rice-rack).

Kumazasa (a kind of bamboo grass) is indispensable for roofing.

add ash made from burning buckwheat to Konnyaku, persimmon tannin and gama (reed grass) are utilized for making fishing gears.

These well remained traditional livelihood and knowledge at such level is quite unusual nationwide in Japan.

In this tour, we had time to communicate with a family shifted from a city to inherit local livelihood in Seya.

Those who cannot joined this tour, pls let us know, if you are interested to visit there.

a picture book about Seya is on sale

millet museum (in Japanese)