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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on June 30, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 26] June 30, 2014

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Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 26]
June 30, 2014
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Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization
(JTCO)
http://www.jtco.or.jp/en/

CONTENTS:

1. Seasonal Taste: Japanese Apricot
2. News from JTCO: Meet our crafts in the heart of Ginza!


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:: 1. Seasonal Taste
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Japanese Apricot

Japanese "Ume" (Japanese apricot, or prunus mume) is often referred
to as "plum" in English. However the species is rather close to an
apricot than a plum which is classified as a prunus deciduous tall
tree seen in East Asia such as Japan, China and Korea.

There are many kinds of Japanese apricot. 寒梅(Kambai) is an early
apricot tree which blossoms in winter. 白梅(Hakubai or Shiraume), a
white Japanese apricot, and 紅梅(koubai), a red Japanese apricot,
bloom in spring.
Those Japanese apricot blossoms have been used in "Haiku" (a Japanese
poem of seventeen syllables) as season words according to their
blooming seasons.

Their blooming seasons are different, but the best season for all
Japanese "Ume" fruits are the same, from mid to late June.

"Ume" is not indigenous plant in Japan. It is said the first
Japanese apricot was brought from the Yangtze valley in China when
rice planting method was introduced to Japan. But other people say
that the Japanese delegation brought it from China to use as a herbal
medicine.

Japanese name of "Ume" derived from a traditional Chinese herbal
medicine "烏梅(Ubai)". "烏梅(Ubai)" is a dried unripe apricot smoke
-dried in the oven until it becomes black. Since Manyo period
(7-8c) until now, Japanese people have called Japanese apricot trees
and fruits "Ume" which is the Japanese pronunciation for Chinese word
"烏梅(wu-mei)".

Japanese apricot vinegar and pickled fruits (Umeboshi), a residue
product of the vinegar, have been taken as a medicine or food from
ancient times.
(This Vinegar has been widely used as rust prevention treatment for
bronze and iron wares in the manufacturing industry until hydrogen
cyanide emerged in the mid Showa period (1950's). In Nara period(8c),
it was also used for the Great Buddha of Todaiji-temple in Nara as pre
treatment process of gold plating.)

In the age of Samurai warriors, "Umeboshi" became essential food for
samurai to bring to the battle fields with them. "Umeboshi" was
useful for sterilizing their injuries, preventing food poisoning or
infection and recovering their fatigue.

Now Japanese apricot wine is the most popular home-made product among
apricot food. But its history is not so long as that of apricot
vinegar or pickled apricots. It is recorded in "Honcho-shokkan", the
Japanese dictionary of herbs and foods, which is the oldest
literature of food published in 1695, in the Genroku period.
According to the dictionary, Japanese apricot wine has a efficacy for
anti-inflammatory, detoxification and pain relief.

Since ancient times, processed Japanese apricots are always
indispensable food to keep healthy life for Japanese people. Pickled
apricots (Umeboshi) are a typical sour food which has a unique acid
taste and many Japanese people salivate only to think of them. You
can find them anywhere in Japan. Why don't you try it?

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Naoko Yamashita

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:: 2. News from JTCO
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Meet our crafts in the heart of Ginza this week!
From June 30 (Mon) to July 5 (Sat)

We introduce our popular Japanese traditional crafts at an art gallery
in the heart of Ginza. Just drop by, touch and feel them after work or
in between shopping.

Stage Ginza (Ginza Nine 2 1F)
http://www.ginza9.com/language/art_service.html

Map:
http://goo.gl/maps/hqew0


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