Lalara travelogue

Special contribution: A visit to Misakubo's yuzu mochi and millet food
#Yumochiko #Mizakubo  
Yoichiro Sato, Director of Fujinokuni Museum of Global Environmental History

This may already be old news, but I would like to write about my small trip to Misakubo last year in the deepening autumn. This is the land that Kanichi Yasuto Nomoto, a folklorist, once passionately researched when he was a young teacher at a prefectural high school. It is a deep mountainous area at the western and northern ends of Shizuoka Prefecture, bordering Nagano and Aichi prefectures. Continuing north on National Route 125, which runs through the city, you will eventually reach Seozure Pass. This is Nagano Prefecture. Although it is a town nestled deep in the mountains, the JR Iida Line, which originates from Toyohashi in Aichi Prefecture, runs through it. Its administrative district began in 1925 when the former Okuyama Village was elevated to a town and became Misakubo Town, Shuchi District. From 2005, it was incorporated into Hamamatsu City and became Misakubo-cho, Tenryu-ku.

I went to Misakubo because I was invited to a ``Tororo Soup Tasting Comparison'' event held at a restaurant called ``Tsubugui Shimoto'' in the Jigōgata district. The meeting was planned by Professor Setsuko Maeda of the Prefectural College of Agriculture, Forestry and Environmental Sciences. It was a really interesting event where the participants, along with students from the laboratory, researched the soup stock and seasonings of yam soup from all over the prefecture, and then had them actually make it and taste it. There are many variations, such as what type of soup stock is used and whether the seasoning is miso or soy sauce, and it is said that a wide variety of yam soup can be made depending on the combination of stock and seasonings.

Tororo soup is one of the local dishes of Shizuoka prefecture, so of course I was interested in it. However, what interested them even more was a food called ``Yumochi''. The Kojien dictionary says, ``A confectionery made by mixing rice flour, wheat flour, sugar, miso, walnuts, etc., adding yuzu juice and peel, kneading and steaming.'' However, what I am aiming for is not the sweet yumochi. ``Fill a yuzu pot with a filling made mainly of rice flour, and cover it with the cut-off head.Tie it up with straw, steam it well, and then dry it in the sun.Filling inside It is glutinous rice, glutinous rice (...), mixed with chopped walnuts or kaya nuts, sesame seeds, etc., and kneaded with miso or soy sauce (World Encyclopedia). Similar products can be found all over the country, and some places use ``miso balls,'' which are made by adding salt to boiled soybeans and fermenting them naturally, instead of miso.

Yuzu mochi is rich in not only carbohydrates and protein, but also fat thanks to the addition of soybeans, walnuts, and sesame seeds, and the yuzu peel contains vitamins. It seems to have been developed as military food during the Warring States period, as it is close to a complete food and is highly portable and long-lasting. Misakubo was a key transportation hub connecting Shinshu, Mikawa, and Enshu, and National Route 125 was also the ``salt road'' that transported salt to Shinshu. The Salt Road has a long history, and there are traces of people coming and going on it since the Jomon period. During the Sengoku period, it was also the route Shingen marched on when he attacked Ieyasu. This road was also known as the Akiba Kaido, and was the route for people commuting from Shinshu to Mt. Akiba. It is very possible that yumochi played an important role in supporting the lives and health of the people who traveled here.

Shizuko Ishimoto of ``Tsubugui Shimoto'' told us how to make yumochiko. I heard that there are people in the same village who still make yumochi. She asked and they sent Yumochi. What was sent to me was a slightly flat lump several centimeters in diameter, jet black in color like charcoal, and when I pressed it, it had a slight elasticity to it. As soon as I opened the individually wrapped plastic bag, I could smell the unique scent of sweet yuzu. Try cutting it in half. It's black all the way to the center, but only that part is whitish because of the walnuts inside. When I cut it into thin slices and put it in my mouth, I could feel the moderate saltiness and strong umami. I thought it would be a good accompaniment to alcohol. Come to think of it, I once saw it served with salt-grilled mackerel at a restaurant in Shizuoka City.

On the path of salt, the foods that are similar to yumochi in that they use soybeans are soybean miso and hamanatto (or hamanatto). Today, bean miso is a type of miso that remains in Aichi, Gifu, and Mie, and is made almost exclusively from soybeans and salt, and although it takes a long time to mature, it also has a long shelf life. For fermentation, soybean koji mold is used. Hamanatto is a food made by fermenting and preserving beans from mame miso without crushing them, and these are also foods closely associated with samurai families, and are thought to have been valued as military provisions.

Another important part of Misakubo's diet was millet. Millets are the seeds of grasses, and rice is one of them. In addition to rice, cereals grown in the summer include millet, millet, and millet, which originate from East Asia, and teff, sorghum, pearl millet, and finger millet, which originate from Africa. It must have been nearly 2000 years ago that it left its place of origin and arrived in Japan after several thousand years. All of them are made from seeds of grasses, but the yield of grains other than rice does not increase even if you apply a lot of fertilizer. In Misakubo, where there were few paddy fields and agriculture that required sufficient fertilizer had not been developed, people had no choice but to rely on millet as a viable grain.

Up until now, grain farming has been considered to be a backward form of agriculture, and grain food has been considered to be a backward form of food for the land. However, recently, the world has been changing a bit. Grain farming and food are about to be reevaluated, with the ``latest prize'' being the first prize. Although it is the opposite of today's gourmet cuisine, it can be said that there is sustainable food and agriculture that is environmentally friendly.

Farmhouse restaurant Tsubushoku Ishimoto
389 Jitogata, Misakubo-cho, Tenryu-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture
TEL: 053-987-3802
Approximately 1 and a half hours by car from JR Hamamatsu Station

Related information
Fujinokuni Food Capital Information Center “Yumochi”

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