Tag Archives: Japanese Plums

Organic Japanese Plums Harvesting in Higashimine, Shizuoka City, with Marufuku Seicha Co.!

Last Sunday Asami Itoh/伊藤麻実さん, the young owner/manager of Marufuku Tea Company/丸福製茶株式会社 in Shizuoka City invited once again to participating to the harvest of organic Japanese Plums/Ume/梅 in her family-owned land up in the mountains of Shizuoka City!

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The weather was not that great, what with fog and drizzle, but it was more comfortable than last year when it blazing hot!

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Higashimine/東峰 is up in the mountains of Shizuoka City along the Abe River, not far from Umegashima.
It does take some time to reach it by car, but the trip itself is a joy whatever the weather with all the grand unadulterated views along the way!

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There is even a small ancient Shinto Shrine to look after you there, at 1,000 meter altitude where the highest tea fields in Japan can be found!

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It is a very steep way down from there but Japanese farmers are well equipped with these gasoline driven “mountain tracks” to carry heavy equipment and crops!

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A real free fall, I can guarantee you!

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Asami invites every time to ride down with her, and I refuse every time!

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The rest of us just walk down.
Mind you, you do have to be fit and cautious!

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Japanese cedars (cryptomeria) everywhere!

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Walking past lone neighbors’ farmhouse!

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We can stop at a nice little traditional farmhouse built by Asami’s late father!
In need we could stay there overnight!

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Very traditional Japanese atmosphere!

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The field in front of the house with many old plum trees which haven’t seen any fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides for the last 25 years!
The place is regularly invaded by wild boars, monkeys, civets, deer and even bears!
They will not show up with all the noise we make, but we do have to look out for the occasional leech!

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The baskets used for the harvest!

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Asami and her younger sister plucking the trees under the drizzle!

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The plums have to be picked just before they ripen, otherwise they will naturally and very quickly ferment!

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Japanese plums are not edible raw, but are used to make umeboshi/salted plums, umeshu/ume sake, ume jam and so forth!

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Harvest piling up!

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Still not complete.
We must have harvested about 80 kg that day, although the crop was not impressive this year!

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The only “monster” of the crop!

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Once the crop finished we sorted it we put it on the “railway”!

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It was time for lunch while the watermelon was cooling down!

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Like last year I was the one in charge of cutting it!

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Great dessert!

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Cleaning up and getting ready to climb back to the car park!

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Asami starting the train and going ahead of us!

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By then, it was almost pouring, but the mountain views were beautiful!

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See you there again next year!

Marufuku Tea Factory (Owner: Ms. Asami Itoh/伊藤麻実さん)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu, Cho, 25
Tel.: 054-271-2011
Fax: 054-271-2010
Mobile: 090-3250-4188

CHA-O (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh/伊藤麻実さん)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu Cho, 94
Tel: 054-253-8421
Fax: 054-253-8413
HOMEPAGE

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Umeshu: Umeshu with Organic Plums Harvested in Shizuoka City!

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The other day I received a phone call a phone call from my good friend, Ms. Asami Itoh who just succeeded in her father’s steps as the new president and owner of Marufuku Tea Factory in Shizuoka City. She is a very busy lady as she is also active in producing tea bags at her other venture, CHA-O Company.

She was inviting me to join her and her sister, Aya, in the harvesting of organic Japanese plums growing on trees inside a property that her family owns up in the mountains in Umegashima!

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Although Umegashima is located inside Shizuoka City, it took us more than an hour of driving up the mountains away from civilization up to a point located at 1000 meters altitude where the road ended in front of a small Shinto Shrine!

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At that very spot you will discover the highest altitude green tea fields in Japan!

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From there we had to walk down a precipitous lane for about 15 minutes while Asami was carrying down the necessary equipment on a rail cart that most farmers use in Shizuoka Prefecture where a lot of agriculture is conducted on the sheer slopes across the Japanese Southern Alps.

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We soon reached a Japanese traditional farm house that Asami’s father had completely refurbished. I just can’t imagine how they brought up all this wood, pillars, rafters, beams and whatever else in that spot completely isolated from car roads!
But the house itself is already worth the expedition. I can imagine many of my artist and writer friends falling in love with this abode away from everything where mobile phones don’t work, although the place is equipped with electricity, gas, toilets and bathroom!

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Safety lamps in case of a blackout!

The place contains a mountain of antiques gathered over the year by Asami’s father and I can guarantee you that the place is safely locked away. What with intruders regularly stealing valuable mountain vegetables growing on the property!

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There is plenty of room for sleeping but this hammock just feels great in the heat of summer! Incidentally it snows up there in winter!

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Japanese antique tansu/箪笥/chest!

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More authentic antique tansu!

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Antique rice straw rain gear!

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A real Japanese antique irori/囲炉裏sunken hearth!

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Even the stairway and hand rail are antiques!

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An array of authentic antique kokeshi dolls/コケシ all signed up by artists!

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The three of us spent a good 4 hours harvesting Japanese plums overhead as the lower branches ahd been eaten out by wild deer!
I made a mistake not to wear boots in the muddy ground and I was beaten by a leech! Yes, a leech at 1000 meters altitude!

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We first dropped the plums into individual wicker baskets secured around the waist.

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There were (unfortunately inedible) mushrooms everywhere!

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Japanese plums are best harvested just before they start changing color!

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Naturally the crop was carried up to the small car park via the rail tractor!

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Apparently this year’s crop was not very good but we must have collected 50 kg of them!

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Although I was asked to take more with me I was allowed to choose enough of the bigger ones to bring back home to make umeshu.
Usually people use cheap white liqueur and koorizato/crystal sugar, last year I made them with local shochu, sake and koorizato, but this time I used only sweet potato shochu and a bottle of the only mirin/sweet sake made in Shizuoka Prefecture by Sugii Brewery in Fujieda City!

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You will not find such an extravagant umeshu in any shop!

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I still had enough left for Dragon (my worse half!) to make (from left to right): plums in fruit vinegar and honey, plum soy sauce and white wine umeshu!

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She even made plum chutney!

Looking forward to tasting this great umeshu in winter. And of course it will be a rare treat to eat or use the plums in recipes!

Marufuku Tea Factory (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu, Cho, 25
Tel.: 054-271-2011
Fax: 054-271-2010
Mobile: 090-3250-4188

CHA-O (Director, Ms. Asami Itoh)
420-0006 Shizuoka Shi, Aoi Ku, Wakamatsu Cho, 94
Tel: 054-253-8421
Fax: 054-253-8413
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

BULA KANA in Fiji
Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, 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, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, 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!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

Umeshu: Sanwa Brewery


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umeshu-sanwa

Umeshu comes under different guises in Japan, but if you buy one instead of making it yourself make sure you buy one brewed by a reputable Brewery!
In Shizuoka Prefecture, umeshu is an extravagant affair when made by the local breweries.
Sanwa Brewery in Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City is no exception!

Sanwa Brewery Garyubai Umeshu

Alcohol: 12 degrees (fairly low for Shizuoka but still high when compared with cheap stuff!)
Ingredients: Japanese Plum (“Ume”), Sake. Sugar.

Clarity: Very clear at rest. Smoky if stirred beforehand
Colour: Orange/sepia
Aroma: Ver fragrant and sweet plums.
Body: Velvety~fluid
Taste: Dry attack, turns sweet later. Shortish tail. Very pleasant impression. Elegant.

Overall: Very enjoyable and easy to drink.
Fine at room temperature.
Makes for a great aperitif when chilled.
Great with cheese at room temperature.
Elegant beverage. Should please both ladies and gentlemen!