Category Archives: Agriculture & Forestry

Eating, Listening, and Coming Together in Shimoichi

Fields of persimmon trees. Farms. Big, slow clouds, and some nice wind. That was what I expected on my first visit to Shimoichi Town last weekend, and well, that was what we had. My only prior knowledge of this peaceful, mountain town was what I had translated for the Anpo Persimmon making experience. We will have the English version up soon, but for now, here is the Japanese page. On the drive up the windy roads, I finally saw Guesthouse Apricot!

My destination in Shimoichi Town was “Yoshino Hirohashi Smile Village”, a former school, now turned into a wonderful place to hold local events.  This time, the event was the Manabiya Music Festival 2019, with musical guest Nao Kodama.

Prior to the main event, many of us were nourished by the local vendors outside the building, serving up a perfected shrimp ajillo, fried chicken, konyaku, and local specialties like persimmon leaf sushi, chagayu rice porridge, and kusamochi.  As you can see in the photo above, I never pass up a chance to have some chagayu rice porridge. All in all, there must have been close to 100 people there, with many children participating in toy-making workshops before the concert.

Nao Kodama’s musical performance was superb. She soothed when she was soft, and she rocked when she rocked! Sun spilled in through the old school windows, and the smooth, sliding lap steel guitar must have beckoned neighborhood cats to come watch from outside. Sitting alone on the stage, she was a fresh, new presence in a school some might have considered forgotten. For me, the beauty of this event was how it found a new use (music) for a former school, and through this, introduced local food and culture to the many visitors who came that day. In addition to helping preserve the culture, it brought people together in an area with fewer and fewer residents. It was truly a pleasure to be a part of it.

If you’re interested in visiting Guesthouse Apricot, which is very close to this school, please feel free participate in one of their events, or contact them as well!

Making Anpo Persimmons and Persimmon Leaf Sushi

Picking Persimmons and Making Persimmon Leaf Sushi

Staying in the Mountains of Shimoichi and Making Persimmon Leaf Sushi

Trees of Nara

Nara prefecture is known for one of the Japan’s foremost cedar and cypress-producing center. Forest accounts for about 70% of the total area of Nara, for that reason, forestry has been prospered since a long time ago using this rich environment.

Even though those kinds of tree are produced in other prefectures in Japan, cedar is one of the representative tree of Nara. Among those areas, Yoshino (south area of Nara) is well known for tree producing in Japan.

However some time the tree industry was fell into a decline, the history of tree industry in Yoshino counts about 500 years, it means continuing from Muromachi period (14th to 16th century). The afforestation method of Yoshino is called dense planting which is quite unique. Because of this method, compare to other trees, the annual rings of tree are narrow and sturdy, so trees in Yoshino is adapted to a variety of uses like furniture, chop sticks, and so on. The lure of trees is not only its grain and strength, but also its beautiful color and mellow scent. The heartwood of Yoshino cedar has reddish and elegant color which is not seen for the other cedars. And Yoshino cypress basically has clean and luxury white color, and also has delicate and sophisticated pale pink color. It is interesting to enjoy these coloring of trees.

In south area of Nara, some artists who uses trees are active. The artist who shaves tree with wheel and make dairy contraries. The artist who uses thin wood plate and make beautifully curved chairs. The artist who uses small plane to make beautiful grain patterns. Some of them are fascinated with Yoshino trees and came from other prefectures. We hope their products appeal Nara to all over the world.

* Please check our hands-on experience program
The Logging of Yoshino-Cedar Trees Experience