Tag Archives: グルメ

Healthy Oranges in a Healthy Environment: Shiratori Orchard in Izu Peninsula

Healthy Oranges in a Healthy Environment!

Last Monday I somehow managed to get a full day free (and I certainly needed the whole of it!). My good friend Yasushi Imaizumi/今泉康 drove me on a grand tour of the Eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture.
Our destination was a remote place deep south the eastern coast of Izu Peninsula.

The day was just gorgeous!
Absolutely blue skies and mild temperatures.
We just couldn’t help taking pictures of snow-capped Mount Fuji on the way!

It took us (Yasushi) three hours to drive down to Shirata/白田, near the minuscule fishing harbor of Inatori/稲取, in Kamo Gun/賀茂郡, only a short distance from Shimoda City/下田市.

There, we discovered the oranges orchard of the Shiratori Family with an incredible view over the ocean. By clear weather you can see as far as Oshima/大島 Island!

Miyoko Shiratori/白鳥美代子, a live-in student, her daughter-in-law, Hiroko/弘子, her son, Takehisa/岳寿 and her husband, Ryuusaku/龍作.

Mr. Ryuusaku Shiratori/白鳥龍作 (82), was a seventh generation of growers of rice, tea, oranges and wasabi back in Shizuoka City until he decided to move there 40 years ago to become the first of three generations of orange growers.
This must have been the right choice as he and his wife Miyoko/美代子 could pose in any magazines as models of incredibly healthy longevity!

Having bought those 2 ha of steep terrain, he had it buldozzed into shelves within three days!

I can tell you that you need good feet and good eyes to move through the orchard!

He has never looked back since then!
He is presently helped by his son Takehisa/岳寿 (54), his daughter-in-law, Hiroko/弘子 (49) and his grandson Tatsumi/達巳 (26). They also get the very much needed hands of a live-in student from Shizuoka City.

Ryuusaku Shiratori demonstrating cuttings to my friend Yasushi.

They do grow many varieties of oranges and one of them, a hybrid developed by Ryuusaku, Shiratori Hyuuga/白鳥日向 (developed from Hyuuga Natsu/日向夏 from Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu Island) has been registered with the Japanese Agriculture & Forestry Ministry!
Actually, he is quite well-known as no later than a week before a whole Tokyo HHK TV crew of 10 staff and 2 cameras spent a whole day there!

These Hyuuga Shiratori oranges are carefully pruned away to leave only the best fruit which are wrapped in paper for better fruition!

Another view of the trees!

The wrapping takes days and days!

40-years old trees! They can be harvested until the grand age of 60 years!

Trees are propagated with cuttings planted directly into the soil.
These new trees will be completely pruned for 4~5 years before harvesting the first oranges.

100% organic culture is impossible, but the Shiratoris reckon that their orchard is more than 90% organic. The second and third generations have actually been awarded the title of Ecofarmers by the Government!
Fertilizer is practically organic. You understand it when you see the beautiful grass growing between the trees.
As for pests, they use the very minimum of pesticides and introduce natural enemies of such pests such as ladybugs and other carnivorous insects!
Pollination is done either by hand, with the help of the wind, or with rented bees!

Their Shiratori Hyuuga oranges, although seedless and full of juice, will take two more months to mature to a tasty and sweet juice.


This beauty is not ready yet!

New Summer Oranges (will be mature in May!)

As I said, they grow many varieties to organize a constant harvest and delivery.
Among them Haruka/晴香, Ponkan/ポンカン, and New Summer Oranges are extremely popular.

Ponkan ready for harvest and delivery!

They do grow and experiment with other fruit such as loquats/biwa/琵琶!

Although great exposure to the sun and big differences of temperature between day and night are welcome, the wind isn’t!
To fend off the wind, Ryuusaku planted hedges of camelias/tusbaki/椿.
He likes them so much that he made a point to plant as many varieties as possible. He invited me to admire them next February!

They do also grow a lot of their own food, such as these shiitake mushrooms and string beans I was offered to take back home with a whole bunch of ponkan!

Since I have to make at least two more trips expect more pics and explanations!

Shiratori Orchard/白鳥農園
413-0304 Shizuoka Ken, Kamo Gun, Higashi izu Cho, Shirata, 1742
413-0304 静岡県賀茂郡東伊豆町白田1742
Tel./Fax: 0557-95-2083
Mobile phone: 090-7025-6659

Check their HOMEPAGE for orange varieties, prices and orders!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London
Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Advertisements

Kiwi Fruits & Agritourism at Kiwifruit Country Japan

Masatoshi and Tsuneyo Hirano/平野正俊・常代 at Kiwifruit Country Japan in Kakegawa City.

“Let’s introduce the greatness of the nature, importance of agriculture and taste of the real thing! Let’s learn together! Discover the valuable life!” is Masatoshi Hirano’s motto, in his own words, for farm management.

Entrance to Kiwifruit Country Japan

Mr. Masatoshi Hirano (and his two sons, too) speaks fluent English, because he spent a long time researching about citruses in four different States in the US before starting agriculture at his parents’ farm. His family has seen a lot of history go by as he is the 19th generation!
Nonetheless, as a youngster he understood that tradition was one thing, and good farming management another.

Kiwi fruits across the parking lot!

This led him, originally against his parents’ disagreement, to enlarge the family enterprise and introduce new cultures.
One was that of kiwifruit which he started from a single spoonful of seeds he had brought back home!

Agritour programs in front of the shop.

Then for the last 21 years he has expanded the cultivated land to include the largest Kiwifruit Agritour Orchard in Japan, tea, organic citruses, organic vegetables, organic edible flowers, space for domestic animals (as food and pets), self service stand direct sale shop, a whole forest for kids and adults alike, a BBQ area capable of welcoming 500 guests, a campsite, onsite field classes for children and students and agritours for Japanese and foreigners.

Baby goat.

A pet sheep.

A pet goat.

Pet rabbits.

Mischievous baby goats!

A baby pig, not a wild boar!

A peacock (there are two varieties, actually!)!

Kiwifruits, according to varieties (he grows 80 of them and conduct experiments on 500!), are either grown in an enormous greenhouse (which also serves as an BBQ and event space) or in open-air fields.

This kiwifruit tree wood is actually very popular with local artists!
Another great way to recycle nature!

Greenhouse-grown kiwifruit on display for practical information!

Kiwifruit varieties ready for sampling!

One can study about kiwifruits in Japanese and English while eating them!

Chickens for their meat and eggs.

More chickens!

And even more chickens! These are pets kept together with rabbits!

And more chickens. These always seem hungry!

The whole range of edible organic flowers and mountain vegetables/sansai/山菜 grown on site!

Organic shiitake.

Organic pumpkins!

Peaceful sheep.

Organic mandarines/mikan/蜜柑.

The grass and plants are left to grow naturally from the soil mixed with natural compost.

Another variety of organic mandarines.

Tea fields.

Vast open-fields of kiwifruit trees. Would you believe that Mr. Hirano pollinate them all by hand? A back and shoulder-breaking work!

A view inside the very old forest. It is actually crossed by a centuries-old path!

Small concerts are organized in that space inside the forest!

A kids’ heaven!

Look at these air-breathing roots. Now, this is an ancient tree!

100% organic potatoes sold at the shop!

Kiwis on sale at the shop.
One can eat as many as one wants onsite for a fee!

All kinds of varieties and packaged kiwifruit can be sent all over Japan directly from the shop!

These are the ones I took back hoe!

Obviously this is only the first of a long series of articles as the place will have to be visited every month by your servant or reporters from Agrigraph!

Kiwi Fruit Country/Experience & Learning Farm
Masatoshi & Tsuneyo Hirano
436-0012 Shizuoka Ken, Kakegwa Shi, Kamiuchida, 2040
Tel.: 0537-22-6543
Fax: 0537-22-7498
Free dial: 0120-014791
E-mail: wbs02626@mail.wbs.ne.jp
HOMEPAGE(Japanese, but phone calls can be taken in English)

Business hours: 09:00~17:00
BBQ (even by rainy weather) and tours possible on reservation.

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London
Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Green Tea Processing at Marufuku Tea Factory

Mr. Bunji Itoh/伊藤文治 and his daughter Asami/麻美 at Marufuku Tea Factory/丸福造者株式j会社 were kind enough to show me twice the mechanical part of processing green tea as well as explain the various kinds of tea they make.
Bear in mind this the mechanical part of green tea which takes place after picking, steaming and massaging the fresh leaves.

The basic first step is hi-ire/火入れ/roasting which can be done with two different machines:

A comparatively small roasting drum-style machine which can roast green tea at 120~135 degrees Celsius from 10 kg in 20 minutes.

A larger and more elaborate roasting machine which can take care of 300 kg in an hour.

The second step will involve separation according to quality into 5 basic teas I will describe later.

But more than one type of machine is used to produce tea according to the demands and preferences of clients.

Some of quality tea has to be treated by hand!

But the machines certainly make the job easier!

Tea also has to go through other apparatuses to take out unwanted particles, especially metallic powder with magnets.

Finally after the tea has been processed satisfactorily it will have to be put into packs of various sizes.

The tea packs will be then put into larger boxes for delivery!

Basic types of green tea:

Arai-cha/荒い茶/ Coarse Tea

For a closer view of the same.

Boo-cha/棒茶/ Stick tea

For a closer view of the same.

Me cha/芽茶/ Bud tea, the best quality

For a closer view of the same.

Yanagi Cha/柳茶/ Willow Tea, called so because the the roasted leaves look like willow leaves. Also commonly called Ban cha/番茶/ Number Tea

For a closer view of the same.

Kona cha/粉茶/ Powder Tea

For a closer view of the same.

Marufuku Seishya Co. Ltd. (Mr. Bunji Itoh)
Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu Cho, 25
Tel.: 054-271-2011
Fax: 054-271-2010

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London
Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Wasabi: A Visit to Its Birthplace in Shizuoka!

Mr. Yuma Mochizuki/望月佑真

The other day I received a phone call from my good friend Dominique Corby, the Chef/Manager of Michelin-starred 6eme Sens in Tokyo.
He told me that the French/German ARTE TV Channel was coming to Shizuoka City on September 12th~13th to make a long report on green tea (Shizuoka produces 45% of all green tea in Japan), wasabi (Shizuoka produces 80% of all wasabi in Japan) and the fishing industry in our Prefecture (they will visit the Fishing Harbour of Yaizu City)!
He wished to enroll my help to “prepare the ground” for the TV crew as I was not only living in Shizuoka City, but knew my wasabi well! He didn’t have to ask twice!
So on Thursday and Friday 12th and 13th, a third Musketeer, Stephane Danton of Ocharaka, a French specialist of green tea in Kanagawa Prefecture who exports green tea from Kawane Honcho in Shizuoka, joined us in a rented car and we left on a grand mission!

Utogi is also the starting point of some great treks!

We did spend the whole Thursday following Stephane in tea growing farming homes and communities as the rain just made it impossible to visit the wasabi fields in altitude!
So we left early in the morning on Friday from Shizuoka City in blistering heat.
The ride is not that hard, 18 km along the Abe River and 3 more km up in altitude, what with the beautiful vistas between high steep forested mountains.
We reached Utogi at around 11:00 a.am. where Mr. Yuma Mochizuki was already waiting for us.

One of Mr. Yuma Mochizuki’ wasabi fields.

Mr. Yuma Mochizuki is the 10th generation of a celebrated wasabi growing family.
He presently owns 5 fields dispersed on in the Utogi Mountains, and is trying to buy more land in Fujinomiya City as the demand is growing and that there is simply no space left in Utogi!
Wasabi grows in the wild and has been consumed as a vegetable for eons.
It is only in the beginning of the 17th Century that a farmer in Utogi succeeded in growing the root that is so appreciated in the world.
Roots of a small size will develop in the wild after 2 or 3 years, but they are too sour and “green” to be consumed at all. Although its cultivation is purely organic/macrobiotic it does need the help of a human hand.

Mr. Mochizuki first took us to his highest field at almost 1,000 metres (well over 300 feet) to an almost inaccessible locale among trees, steep slopes and up impossibly narrow and slippery “stairs”. But it was certainly worth it, although the TV crew will ot have to climb so high.
He then took us (all the time by car as walking was not much of an option what with the heat and the distance between fields) to the field that would appear on TV.

The whole field is covered with a black mesh net to protect it from too much exposure to the sun. These nets are streched over the field only when it is directly under the path of the sun. Some fields aren’t.
But all fields have to be protected with suplementary solid side nets to keep wild monkeys and deer away as they would leave nothing of the stems and leaves!

Wasabi seedlings have to be regularly replanted every one or two years depending upon the variety. There are axtually more than 100 varieties of them. Mr. Mochizuki grows ten of them.
The seedlings above had been replanted only one month ago.

Here is a “view” (from under the nets) of the upper part of that particular field with about one-year old wasabi plants in the background.

After 1 or 2 years the wasabi plant matures to almost one metre in height, root, stems and leaves included. Subsidiary plants will grow from the bottom of the main large root. These will be cut out to be replanted.
The large root will be harvested for the wasabi paste. The stems will be pickled in Japanese sake white lees to become “Wasabi Tsuke”, a delicacy one can use to season his/her bowl of freshly steamed rice with or with fish and fish paste. The leaves can be pickled too, although they are eminently edible raw, steamed or cooked. Shizuoka people use them as “vessels” to taste miso paste!

Only pure mountain water flowing at a constant temperature may be used in the culture of wasabi. Stagnant water is out of question.
Moreover, and this is a little known fact, individual field sections and fields in general do not communicate with each other. Water come through pipes directly connected to mountain streams to bring water to each field section. It is then diverted to side funnels which prevent any water to go back into another field!
True envirnomental and organic culture.
Apart of the bed sand and water, nothing else goes into those fields. Full stop!

Although Mr. Mochizuki was very busy preparing the big Festival to be held on Saturday and Sunday with the whole community, he kindly took the time to invite us to his enormous Japanese house (all sitting on tatami there) to share tea and sample his wasabi crop. We had the pleasure to meet his very gentle spouse and the energetic 11th generation Yoshihiro Mochizuki望月義弘!

Here are the best samples of 3 of the best out of the 10 varieties the Mochizuki family grows. Can you guess which is the best one?…
The one in the middle with the dark stems!

Now, where do you grate the stem from? The pointed end or the stem end?
Well, this is according to priorities, but usually after chopping the stems away fromthe root is first grated from the top as it will hotter as you come closer to its pointed extremity. This way you can control the “heat” of the root (or mix the whole later!).

Have you ever seen the cross section of a healthy root?

The traditional way to grate the wasabi root is on a wooden slat covered with shark skin.
Mr. Mochizuki explained this is now done only for the sake of tradition. Sushi and soba chefs will grate (away for the clients’ eyes) on a new and very efficient metal grater (in the background).

Look at that for extravagance!
Mr. Mochizuki was indeed so generous in his demonstration.
The TV crew will have a “field day”! LOL

MARU ICHI NOUEN/丸一農園
(Yutogi Kodawari Club/有東木こだわり倶楽部)
Director: Yoshihiro Mochizuki/望月義弘
421-2303 Shizuoka Prefecture, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Yutogi, 602
Tel./Fax: (81) (0)54-298-2077
E–mail: wasabiya-maruichi@vivid.ne.jp
Direct mail orders possible

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

For your Dining Room: Tansu/Japanese Chests

Japan is still a very good country to prospect for antiques in spite of its devouring modernity.
When it comes to antique or even more homey tansu/箪笥, one should keep both eyes open as these Japanese-style chests can become extremely useful in any home because of their practical shapes and sturdy material, not to mention their aesthetic qualities.
Even if you are here for a short stay or plan to leave soon, they can easily be filled with your belongings actually helping with the ever tiring chore of removal.

Fine, Sir, but what is a tansu?Sorry, my good friend, I ought to have explained that a bit earlier!
Tansu is the word for chest, chest of drawers or cupboard, all in one word in Japanese. It is often used in the West, notably in the antique business, to refer to traditional Japanese chests, handcrafted and made of fine wood. The latter is important when it comes to pricing. Most popular woods are Hinoki/檜 or Japanese cypress, Keyaki/欅 or Japanese elm, Kuri/栗 or Chestnut,, Sugi/杉 and Kiri/桐 or Paulownia.
After all, it is a very vague term to describe a whole range of chests, but many collectors focus on finding antique Tansu. There are many workshops (especially in Shizuoka or other prefectures with a good supply of wood) in imitation of the classic antiques. Some are made of excellent reclaimed wood causing the new Tansu to retain a more aged look that some people seek. Make sure to ask first if the antique tansu is authentic or an imitation.
But my bet, that is if you have the time, is to look around in farms and in the country where there are not only authentic, but cheap and serviceable. Moreover, people tend to be happy to get rid of them!

Now, before you go prospecting, it always a good idea to acquire a little basic knowledge. One way to conduct a successful bargain!

Main types of Tansu:
-Choba-dansu/著場箪笥/Merchant Tansu. Used by merchants, they display elaborate metal hardware and were used in shops to impress customers. They come in many sizes depending on trade plied by their owners: sewing supplies chests, sea chests, merchant chests, futon chests or kitchen equipment chests. They could either open from a single side or be accessible from both sides.
-Kusuri-dansu/薬箪笥 were and still are apothecary/medicine chest. They were used to store herbs, especially at medicinal herbs/kanpoyaku/漢方薬 traditional pharmacists. They are often made of paulownia wood and have many small drawers. They make for the perfect chest for jewels, spectacles or other small collection object storage, or even display.
-Kaidan-dansu/階段箪笥, or step-chests are another very popular collection item, although their initial purpose was of a totally different nature. They were actually used to avoid taxation on other areas of a home when taxes were levied based on the size of one’s home! When the tax collectors appeared on the horizon, home-dwellers quickly moved those chests under the stairs away from their eyes! When small, they make for great display chests at homes and shops. When big, their aesthetical and practical qualities can be combined to save space.
-Katana-dansu/刀箪笥. These were used to store swords.They are long and low and often made of palownia to keep sword from rusting.
-Mizuya-dansu/水や箪笥 or Daidokoro-dana/台所棚 used in kitchens for the storage of plates, utensils and food items. They usually include many sliding doors and drawers of full plain wood, or adjourned wood, the latter coming with mesh or bars.

-Sendai-dansu/仙台箪笥. These are used to store kimomo and clothing. Originally made from the Sendai region, they are often made of zelkova wood with drawers lined in cedar. They usually come as one long top drawer with three slightly smaller drawers underneath. Some are true antiques as they were commissioned from former sword makers after the Samurai were disbanded in the Meiji era.
-Cha-dansu/茶箪笥. They were used to store tea ceremony implements. This is one type of antique chest that can still be found in homes or in the country!
-Funa-dansu/船箪笥. They were ship chests, used a scontainers from the Edo period to the Meiji Era. They came in three basic designs:
Kakesuzuri/かけすずり, a small chest with a single swinging door and multiple internal drawers inside.
Hangai/半外, a small chest for clothing storage.
Cho-Bako/庁箱, or account box.. This last comes in many more types, a pleasure for collectors!

Many regions of Japan made tansu. Check where the former castle towns on the posts roads stood and you will have a good chance to make a discovery. Look for the ironware and quizz their owners! Wood and lacqyuer types are also clue to the origin of some pieces.
The elements of antique tansu hardware were created from forged iron, and sometimes with copper. Search for design elements engraved or inlaid. Incidentally, black finish on the iron was created by applying rapeseed oil to the hot metal.

Recommended Books:
Traditional Japanese Furniture by Kazuko Koizumi
Japanese Cabinetry/The Art & Craft Of Tansu by David Jackson & Dane Owen

Recommended website:
Jtansu at: http://www.jtansu.com/Japanese-Tansu-s/1.htm
David Jackson: Tansu Restoration & Conservation at: http://www.tansuconservation.com/

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Egg Farm in Shizuoka City: Bi-Ou-Ran (Part 2)

Mr. Shigeru Shimizu/清水茂

As explained in my previous article I was back on the bicycle trail on Saturday with the difference was that I reached the place in record time in spite of the oppressive heat!

I wonder how many tonnes of feed are contained in these silos and accordingly, how many birds are inside the coops!
After all, the whole place covers no less than 1,500 tsubos (4,300 quare meters), big for a single producer in Japan!

The whole complex is surrounded by a tall hedge to protect it from the wind and help control the ambiant temperature.

Incidentally, I noticed that the silos were also protected against the variations of temperature.

I finally found the real entrance to the compound which opens at the very back, away from unknown eyes!

I quickly met Mr. Shimizu who asked me to wait for a while as he was busy with a small emergency. He offered me to stay inside in the cool, but I declined as snooping around is a bad habit of mine!LOL
It is located very much in the middle of the nature with a beautiful mountain background.

Hand egg-calibrating machine.

I was finally admitted inside, and knowing we were limited in time, I started firing questions.

-When was the egg farm founded?
-1996

-How long have you been actually working in the business?
-Let’s see. I’m 57. I started at 25. 32 years!

-When were you awarded a brand name for your eggs?
-In 1996 (that was quick!).

-How many hens (no cockerel needed whatsoever. I didn’t know!)?
-14,000 (geez!).

I had trouble keeping my hands off these beauties.

-Then how many eggs do you produce a day?
-About 1,200, but that’s little compared to industrial farms. We strive for quality, not quantity (even so, that’ s a lot to me!). We expect each to produce between 280 and 300 eggs.

-You need quite some staff, then?
-We are 10 in all. That’s enough, although we do have to work in shifts (that was said with a knowing smile, meaning Mr. Shimizu was working all day!).
-How long lasts a working day, then?
-7:00 to 7:00, 12 hours. The hens have to sleep. No forced laying here! (good to know!)

-How do you grade your eggs?
-By size first, into 7 different sizes. The largest are reserved for cake-shops and restaurants. The shell quality has to be the same, and the only way to check it is by touch, sight and experience.

-How many kinds of hens do you breed?
-Two only, Sakura and Momiji. It is enough since we strive for only one kind of yolk, whatever the color of the shell.

-That is a lot of hens, still. How long is their life span?
-As far as the egg-laying season is concerned, only one year. Which means an almost constant turn over. Even so, the hens have to be regulary vaccinated after we get the chicks from a designated hatchery. There are many keys to producing a good product (I didn’t have to ask the questions, as Mr. Shimizu warmed up to the subject. I had told him I was born in the country, and that the questions would not be too general, although I would be careful not to delve in trade secrets!):
The hens must naturally stay healthy. We personally check them everyday. This is not an industrial farm where productivity is placed above the animals’ comfort. They are actually penned in smaller numbers than usual.

Interestingly enough, the hens were not nervous at all. Their crests looked so healthy!

-How do you dispose of the droppings?
-Mixed with other ingredients, they will become fertilizer we sell to local farmers.
-Almost organic, then?
-Yes, almost.
-What about the hens which die on the way?
-We ask a specialized disposal company to take care of them.
-What do you do with the hens after the year has elapsed?
-We sell them to a specialized butcher.
-For how much?
-5 yen per head.
-That’s not much, isn’t it?
-You are telling me!

-What kind of feed do you nourish them with?
-A recipe of our own only.
Mr. Shimizu handed me then a pamphlet with all the ingredients clearly stated. I counted no less than 22, 12 of them not found in industrial egg farms. Enumerating them would be fastidious but I have kept the pamphlet for your questions. It is certainly impressive! At least I can affirm that the corn used is not GM and that some ingredients include garlic and paprika!

The egss! I came too late. They had already been collected!
One thing is for sure: a soft shell wouldn’t take that shock. No wonder Mr. Shimizu’s eggs are so popular!

The eggs are transported in a cute van!

Mr. Shimizu delivers his eggs to no less than 21 main distributing shops and to no less than 40 restaurants and cake shops. I counted them, but I’m pretty sure they do not include special customers!

The sign to the original shop!

Please remind me I have to buy some for the Missus’ tamagoyaki!

Bi-Ou-Ran
Shimizu Chicken Farm
421-2112, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Endo Shinden, 41-3
Tel.: 054-296-0064

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Egg Farm in Shizuoka City: Bi-Ou-Ran (Part 1)

Eggs do come in many shapes, don’t they?

The Japanese have always eaten of lot of eggs. Not so long ago, in the Edo period,they were even considered as a rare delicacy.
Since then, with the abundance of high quality eggs the Japanese have turned this supposedly simple farm product into many world-known delicacies: tamagoyaki, dateyaki, oyakodon, onsen tamago and so on.
On the other hand the same Japanese have increasingly become more exigent and precise about their eggs, requesting for better shape, color and quality.

Bi-Ou-Ran sign

For a long time I have been intrigued by the above sign I regularly passed along during my bicycle trips to Miwa along the Abe River in Shizuoka City.
After some belated enquiries, I found out that the eggs produced by Bi-Ou-Ran/美黄卵/Beautiful Yellow Eggs Farm are not only top-class in this country, but that they have also been awarded a brand name/controlled appellation by the Japanese Government!

An investigation was long due!
After lunch yesterday I took the bicycle and first rode to their small shop (a lot of their eggs are directly distributed all over the country from their farm) up in Miwa (a good 30 minutes ride from my work place).
A small shop it is, but interestingly enough you can buy eggs there through a vending machine almost all day long (that is until everything has disappeared in spite of being re-filled regularly).

A look at the praise received in many neswpapers and TV interviews.

Beautiful eggs inside the vending machine!
Sakura Mixed batch: 300 yen for 12
Sakura Small: 300 yen for 12
Sakura Large: 300 yen for 11
Red Treasure Medium: 300 yen for 11
Red Treasure Large: 300 yen for 10

Onsen tamago: Eggs slowly cooked into running yolk soft-boiled eggs. A delicacy!

Eggs waiting to go!

Home-made chiffon cakes on sale!

Very eclectic: they also sell fresh products from neighbors’ gardens!

From the left bank of Abe River in Ashikubo District.

People/employees at the shop were very kind. They put me through to the farm where Mr. Shimizu and employees are raising their chicken.
Interviewing on that very day was not possible. Wrong time! They were busy at something I couldn’t catch on the phone.
Nevertheless, Mr. Shimizu, who didn’t seem to understand much of what I was trying to tell me agreed on an interview at the farm tomorrow, Staurday, at 13:30!

Their farm is still a 10 more minutes ride up river.
Knowing myself and having some time on hand, I decided to find the farm as directions were a bit scant.
Even knowing the address is not much help in the country where almost nothing is indicated.
At least the Ashikubo River was easy to find.
That did not prevent me from venturing onto the wrong bank of the river!

But riding a bicycle has an enormous advantage: it does not matter how many times you get lost, you will eventually find your way around, whereas by car would tax any driver heavily!
As I said I took the wrong (larger) road.
So I turned back and enetered th very narrow road along the left bank of Ashikubo River.
I can’t miss it on Saturday thanks to the little red Shinto Gate (Torii) at its entrance!

Neither wide nor long, the Ashikubo River is renown for for its great water coming down the nearby mountain slpes all year round. The Abe River might get completely dry, but not this little river.
Even now, many local Sake Breweries come here to collect water in large tanks!
No wonder that the farm has chosen this location. A constant supply of water ought to be vital!

Still a long way to ride. Two cars would be in real difficulty if they happened to meet halfway.

I finally reached my destination, although I didn’t know for sure at first!
No sign at the entrance, and no clue of how such a farm should look like from the outside.
But the fact I was born in farmland did help me as I noticed some silos obviously used to store feed.
But I couldn’t see any bird in spite of the imposing size of the farming complex.
Bear in imd I was in the middle of nature without a homestead within sight (that is on the left bank).

The heat was a scorching 35 degrees by then and I wondered how chicken scould be kept inside. But,… I also noticed large ventilators here and there. I couldn’t be wrong (if I were I was in for a long frustrating search!)!

Since the appointment was not not for that particular day and knowing people working there were very busy, I rode a few seconds on until I found a side entrance,… and heard the unmistakable sound of chicken amid the roaring of the giant ventilators!

I certainly felt relieved knowing it would be a faster ride thanks to my little investigation next Saturday!
An employee did notice me and came to me without being asked to check if I was looking for something or somebody. I explained (after a polite greetings and taking off my shades) that I would come on Saturday and was just checking my way.
-“I see! See you, then!”

Bi-Ou-Ran
Shimizu Chicken Farm
421-2112, Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Endo Shinden, 41-3
Tel.: 054-296-0064

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery