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

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Visit producers in Uda: Indigo Japan blue and Medicinal Plant Expedition

After visiting a traditional indigo dyeing atelier, which inherits 150 years old indigo vase, we explored edible forests. Uda city is a historical land, where wild medicinal plant has been conducted, since ancient Yamato dynasty in 7th century.

Wild medicinal plants master taught us how to distinguish  porcelain berry (or wild grape, scientific name: Ampelopsis glandulosa) and ornamental grape vine (scientific name: Vitis coignetiae), how to make yakushu, alcoholic beverage for medicinal purposes by using natural resources such as Linden arrowwood (gamazumi in Japanese, scientific name: Viburnum dilatatum), silver vine, cat powder, matatabi in Japanese (Scientific name: Actinidia polygama), deodeok or lance asiabell (Tsuruninjin in Japanese, Scientific name: Codonopsis lanceolata), and so on.

Pick and eat, eat and learn, by using five senses, we learnt traditional knowledge of ancient people on living in co-existent with nature.

only use mountain water for 150 years in kasama indigo atelier

"When father-in-low went hospital, I thought someone has to learn how to take care of 150 years indigo vase. My husband is a business person, and only I could do that for the time being. This is how I started to learn, and got deep into this world."

Said the 4th generation of Kasama indigo dyeing atelier, Ms Kayo.  

In the village of Kasama, there are households earning their livelihoods by dyeing, blacksmith, farming... Nowadays, this knowledge is gradually disappearing. Dyeing workshop and black smith are also last one craftsman.

Ms. Kayo, still has hope to keep the lifestyle living with indigo as it is.

Aizome experience 1,500yen (reservation required)

walk and eat: medicinal plant hunting in the forest. 

After lunch, expedition for edible forests.

Walking and picking wild plants. 

Gamazumi (Linden arrowwood), good for making yakushu, medicinal liquor.

 silver vine, matatabi, is also good for medicinal liquor

What is the taste like?
It is very spicy!! Can you believe?

In Korea, it seems deodeok or lance asiabell is edible in raw, just dipped into honey. 
It smells like soil, but the taste is mild, not bitter, not spicy. It is okay to eat as salad by raw.
flower of deodeok

Japanese snake gourd (Karasuuri in Japanese, Scientific name: Trichosanthes cucumeroides). The seeds can be used as a talisman for good fortune, and also edible after baking. It could be indeed good luck in case of emergency, when kept into wallet.

Wild kiwi, or baby kiwi (sarunashi in Japanese, scientific name: Actinidia arguta) is indeed little kiwi, when tasted. It is also good for making liquor.

 Wild grape.
This is similar, but not edible, just beautiful.

You can go for medicinal plant hunting most of the season.  Next workshop will be making kudzu powder form arrow roots, tuber crop.

We also plan to go for foraging and cook medicinal plants in spring.