Tag Archives: Flowers

Shizuoka Agricultural Products: The Nemotos’ Garden

Royichi/良一 and Sumiko/スミ子 Nemoto/根本

It was another one of those blistering days this year’s summer seems intent on inflicting on all of us, citizens or farmers alike.
I already had lost a sizeable amount of liquid when I reached Miwa Agriroad, my regular Wednesday starting point for investigating the local farmers and their products.

Yuyama/湯山 was still a long way away, but my good friend Natsuko Koyanagi/小柳奈津子 and I only had to wait a little while before her husband obligingly delivered his car to us. For all of the locally made chilled lemon and honey drink I had guzzled down, I was really thankful to make the second part of my trip in an air-conditioned car than on my dear bicycle!

The Nemotos are the second generation of that particular farming family.
Their main crops are rice and tea, but that still leaves them with enough time to look after a vast “garden” for extra cash.
Natsuko had called Sumiko Nemoto beforehand , and the dear lady was waiting for us!

Taking pictures and talking to the farmers were a pretty straightforward affair as everything was set as straight as you could hope for. The weather having been dry for a good couple of weeks, no need for boots either. While I was taking the pictures of the egg-plants/aubergines/nasu/茄子 above, the ladies were chatting away, but were always ready to answer questions. They wouldn’t let that city man repeat the same mistakes! LOL

The leeks/negi/葱 did look thirsty!

The hedge of cucumbers/kyuri/胡瓜 had been cleverly placed so as to block a good part of a single side of the garden from the sun and the elements.

These are okra/オクラ, and I’ve learned to appreciate them of late. The Missus chooses them as big as possible before lightly steaming them and then marinate them in the fridge. Make for great appetizers in summer! Have you ever seen their flowers? Beautiful!

Taro/Sato Imo/里芋. The Nemotos actually grow two varieties. I couldn’t see the tubers, but the stems were of two definitely different colours.

While the ladies were busy chattering and I taking pictures, Mr. Nemoto stolidly kept watering the garden. And it certainly needed plenty! He was using a motor pump for it as water is abundant underground.

Aster/アスター

It is not all vegetables in the Nemoto’s garden. Actually many farmers in this vicinity grow flowers, and I can tell you these disappear quickly form the market every morning.
The Nemotos have a special love for Asters, and I agree that they make beautiful flowers!
They also grow Chrysnathemums and daliahs!

Mr. Nemoto kept slowly walking back his hose in hand all the time…

Here’s the grand old chap at last!
I wonder if I might dress like them in summer.
We citizens seem badly protected, whereas Sumiko San in particular seemed to wear half a dozen layers without a sweat!

Bitter melons/Goya/ゴーヤー are not grown in the “warmer” areas of Japan anymore. They are very common in Shizuoka Prefecture where all vegetables and fruit seem to grow. They even grow bananas in nearby Shimizu!

Tomatillo, a Japanese variety.
Except for some specialized farms, these are used more for decoration than food. Very popular with flower arrangement/ikebana/活花 artists!

These are Devil’s Tongue Tubers/Konnyaku/コニャク. The Japanese love these “tubers” to make a kind of jelly. Very popular with vegetarians and people on a diet!

Talking to the farmers has definitely become a pleasure. There are always little stories to listen to and so much to learn!
And like many farmers all over the world, they are generous and proud of their work.
I shouldn’t tell you maybe, but I always end up with a batch of vegetables!
“Did you bring your ecobag?”, Natsuko asked me again with a laugh.
I wouldn’t have forgotten it, although this sounds like using these nice people.
To cut a story short, I ended up with enormous egg plants, small and juicy goya, okra straight as arrows, but then I had to stop them!

Nemotos’ Garden
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Yuyama, 1898
Tel.: 054-2941325

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Shizuoka Agriculture Portal: Agrigraph

AgriGraph Japan is an enterprise commissioned by Shizuoka Prefecture.
It is a project aiming at making the agriculture (and also tourism, esppecially green tourism) in Shizuoka Prefecture known to the whole world in real time through IT-related tools.

Shizuoka Prefecture is a region blessed with nature thanks to its famous mountains such as Mount Fuji and the Southern Alps to the north, its rich sea to the south, and also with a great economy due to its privileged location along the east-west axis from Tokyo to Nagoya and Osaka.

Therefore, no less than five reporters will scour the whole Prefecture every day in an endeavor to help everyone discover the agriculture and rural villages of this rich “Fuji no Kuni Shizuoka/Shizuoka, the Land of Mount Fuji” through live blogs posted through iPhone in Japanese and immediately delivered in English, Chinese, Korean, French and Portuguese by qualified native staff translators to convey the true meaning and nuances of the reports. No automatic translation whatsoever!

If you wish to promote your own agriculture and farm(s) and create a new relation with other producers abroad, do please join us through our interactive blogs as guest participants. All blogs about agriculture from any country are most welcome!

Check the following links:

AGRIGRAPH (Entry Homepage with acces to all articles and languages)

AGRIGRAPH ENGLISH BLOG

AGRIGRAPGH FRENCH BLOG (FRANÇAIS)

AGRIGRAPH PORTUGUESE BLOG (PORTUGUÊS)

AGRIGRAPH KOREAN (관하여)

AGRIGRAPH CHINESE (中文)

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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

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Learning Agricultural Skills at an Early Age at Shizuoka City Ryunan Primary School

From time to time I go coaching the game of cricket in some local primary schools in Shizuoka City.
It is a good break from everything and keeps my feet on the ground.
Ryunan Primary School is fairly big by Japanese standards, but it is just located between the city itself and the nearby mountains/country. The kids are definitely city kids, but with a country nuance.

Many primary schools, contrary to establishments in the large metropolises, in Shizuoka have a “garden” where pupils learn the basic skills of growing vegetables and flowers, be they boys or girls.

The kids will be waiting impatiently for the winter when they can eat these “satsuma imo/sweet potatoes”, especially grilled!

Shizuoka is celebrated for it tomatoes and it shows!
All the pots bear a name plate of each individual pupil.

Red shiso: makes for some great juice in summer!

Cucumbers still at the flower stage.

Flowers, flowers,… All varieties of “Asagao/Japanese Morning Glory”!

For a closer look!

Soory, I forgot to check the name!
Does anyone know?

Now, what are these/ Look at the next pic!

Edamame! (green soy beans!)

Okra!
I actually taught the kids how to “twist and pinch them out”!

Now, what kind of kid can grow such a strangely shaped cucumber?

Now, I’m afraid this cucumber was abandoned by its owner!

Green peppers!
Well, one way to have kids eat vegetables is having them grow heir own food!

Look at my okra! Look at my okra!

And look at my tomatoes!

Look at mine, too! look at mine, too!
Alright, alright! Stand together and show them to me together!
Sweet kids….

Took a last picture before taking my leave:
Beautiful flowers! What might be their name?
Can you read the name of the school on the pot?
The “Running Mount Fuji” is the mascot of Shizuoka Prefecture!

I might do well to check on the next primary school tomorrow!

NOTE: I didn’t take pics of children as the Japanese law does not allow to show kids’ faces (especially inside a school) without a previous written agreement from their parents.

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Vegetables Tips & Facts 7: Edible Flowers (amended & expanded)

flowers-8
(5 edible flowers and water cress salad)

The other day, while I was shopping at the big supermarket at the Shizuoka JR Station I was reminded of a recent post by Natasha at 5 Star Foodie when I noticed edible flowers on sale.
Edible flowers have been on the Japanese markets for quite a few years already.
They tend to first appear in late winter, although it is only a question of time when they will be sold all year long!

flowers-1

flowers-2

They come in very cheap, at 98 yen a small box (1 US$), but they ought to be used as early as possible.
Aichi Prefecture, our neighbour Prefecture seems to have become the largest growing area in Japan.
Thai, Indian and Persian citizens, as far as I know, have been using flowers in food for quite some time. The Japanese have served mini-chrysanthemum and perilla flowers since immemorial times.

flowers-3 flowers-4 flowers-5 flowers-6 flowers-71

Most edible flowers are of the pansy, snapdragon, primura, roses, Cosmos, nasturium and so on.
Do you recognize some of them above?

FACTS:

Now, the great news is that they contain an enormous amount of Vitamin A carotene:
1,100 to 9,400 micrograms per 100 grams as compared to 390 micrograms for tomatoes, 720 micrograms for broccoli and 3,100 micrograms for spinach.
as well as Vitamin C:
230 t0 650 mg per 100 grams as compared to 20 mg for tomatoes, 100 mg for spinach and 160 mg for broccoli!

TIPS:

The Japanese will use them either in flower or vegetable salads or on cakes.
Perilla flowers/shiso no hana are regularly served with sashimi or many kinds of fresh foods!

HEALTH FACTS:

-Edible Chrysanthemums combined with shiitake or mackerel enriches the blood, helps combat ageing and stress.

-Edible Chrysanthemums combined with wakame/seawedd or ginger helps combat muscle/body swelling and helps lower blood pressure.

-Edible flowers combined with oil is a generally beneficila combination.

-Edibke flowers combined with grapefruit or strawberries are beneficial to the skin and helps combat ageing.

One small advice for caution: don’t overeat them as they have purgative powers!

The best season for edible flowers is from September to December in Japan.

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