New Year Holidays in Japan : Mikan
Mikan is one of the typical fruits in Japanese winter.
When my siblings and I were ever-hungry children, my mother always bought a box with 15 kg (approx. 530 oz, 33 lb) of mikan in winter.
We could easily eat up 15 mikan each at one sitting.
I suppose the Engel’s coefficient of my family must have been quite high at that time.
Like kotatsu, mikan is not a “New Year Holidays” special, but it’s inseparable to kotatsu (the standard mikan, “Unshuu mikan” – see below, is sometimes called as “kotatsu mikan”) and that’s why I’m writing this post.
Citrus plant is supposed to originally come from the areas around India, Thailand and Myanmar thirty million years ago.
However, it seems that its cultivation had been started in China.
According to several websites, there is a book about the cultivation of citrus plant, written in 22nd century BC.
Both in “Kojiki” (the oldest extant chronicle in the early 8th century) and “Nihon-shoki” (The Chronicles of Japan which was finished in 720), there is a story that Emperor Suinin sent Tajimamori to “Toko-yo no kuni” (Ideal world outside Japan) to bring back a fruit called “Tokijiku no kaku no mi” (lit. fruit with everlasting sweet-smell).
The description in “Nihon-shoki” says that the fruit is a.k.a. “tachibana”, which is a citrus plant.
“Unshuu mikan” (citrus unshiu) is believed to be appeared as a mutant fruit in the present Kagoshima in the Edo era, about 400 years ago.
The old “unshuu mikan” tree aged more than 300 years is found in a town in Kagoshima.
“Unshuu” is a name of the famous citrus-produced area in China (“Wenzhou” in Chinese pronunciation), but it is Japanese-born.
I saw a website saying the name “Unshuu” has been commonly used only since the Meiji era. (1868 – 1912)
Before that, its name varied with locality, like “Kara-mikan” (“Kara” means China, Korea, or outside Japan. The same kanji as the Chinese dynasty, “Tang”).
It’s sweet, usually seedless, and easy to peel.
Now, it is the most general mikan fruit in Japan, but it wasn’t widely cultivated until the late Meiji era.
Some say perhaps it was because of the superstition: The word “seedless” reminded people of infertility and they wanted to avoid it.
Mikan-gari (lit. Mikan hunting)
In Japan, there are places you can eat mikan as many as you like at a reasonable fee.
When I was in a kindergarten, we went on a day trip for mikan-gari.
I think it was here .
These kind of “fruit-picking” places are available throughout Japan.
Not only for mikan, but strawberries, Japanese pears, apples, grapes and so on.
If there is any specific fruit you want to gorge yourself in Japan, it’s worth checking if there’s an all-you-can-eat place.
[To know how many pieces there are without peeling it]
I tried this only several times long time ago, but I remember I got the correct result every time.
- Hull a mikan.
- Count the whitish grain-like small pattern.
[To make use of its peel]
The dried “mikan” peel is used as a Kampo medicine called “chin-pi”.
Wash the peel well with hot water, dry it with a towel, put it on a strainer and dry it in the sun
When it’s thoroughly dried, slice it to thin strips to preserve it.
*: In a Kampo medicine website, it says that “chin-pi” is the mikan peel dried in the shade for a year.
I doubt if it will not get moldy at home that way.
According to several websites, dried peels help your digestion, clean your skin, improve blood flow, prevent a cold, etc.
– Usage –
- For bath.
Put a cloth bag with a double handful of sliced dried peels into the bathtub filled with warm water.Actually, my family didn’t bother to dry nor slice peels.
We just put a laundry net with raw mikan peels into the bathtub.
It was all right.
- As a mikan drink.
Put sliced dried peels in a tea strainer.
Pour hot water and drink it.
- As a seasoning.
Grate a dried peel.
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
In Japan, except northern cold areas like Hokkaido, houses are usually built to suit Japanese hot humid summer. This means many Japanese houses are drafty, and in other words, it can be freezing even indoor in winter. Most of those houses are without a central heating system, so people keep warm with individual heating devices […]
In our last post about the Japanese traditional martial art sumo, we learned about its history. In this post, we will learn more about its rules and features. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing […]
If you ever seen a scene in a Japanese movie or TV show where people are doing some morning exercise, have you noticed that they are using similar exercise music or similar exercise routine? The exercise routine is actually called the Rajio Taisō (ラジオ体操 ) or Radio Calisthenics. It is an exercise routine done to the tune by a piano. It has an upbeat melody and makes the routine fun and enjoyable (or so I think).
Jyuuni-shi : Chinese Zodiac in Japan The word “Eto” means a combination of the ten Celestial and the Chinese Zodiac, but in Japan it is quite often used to refer only to Zodiac. “Jyuuni-shi” is the correct word for the Chinese Zodiac. …Hey, I didn’t know that! I had believed “Eto” meant the same as […]
A nomikai (飲み会) is a drinking party event particular to Japanese culture. It is a part of the culture of most places of employment. They are most often held in restaurants or izakaya (drinking place, bar), usually with everyone seated at one large table or occupying a separated section of the venue. The following two […]
Judo is a martial art that was born in Japan, and it is now known around the world as an Olympic sport. Judo was established in 1882 by combining jujitsu, a form of wrestling, with mental discipline. The roots of jujitsu lie in sumo, which has a long, long history; sumo is mentioned in the […]
What to see in Fukiya surrounding area (3) [The Nishie residence] This house is located on the opposite side of the Hirokane residence and there is no bus service to/from the village centre in the off season, and even in the high season, a cyclic bus goes there only once a day. However, a bus […]
Konpira in Kagawa (3) Konpira Shrine (3) [Shoin (Library building)] To reach here, you must walk up nearly 500 steps in total. The original meaning of “shoin” was a room used as a sitting room as well as a library of the master, but since around 1600, it has referred to a whole building. This […]
Who is William Merrell Vories? William Merrell Vories was an american from Leavenworth, Kansas who at a young age of 24 left his country and moved to Japan to teach English at Hachiman Commercial High School and since his arrival at Omihachiman on February 2, 1905, he has called this place his new home. He quickly […]
One of the things that I look forward every year during this spring season in Japan is having “nama shirasu don.” What is “Nama Shirasu Don”? “Nama shirasu don” is a bowl of rice topped with raw whitebait. “Nama” means raw while “shirasu” means whitebait (in Japan, mostly it refers to the young anchovies). Although you can […]