Monday, November 5, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Revival of Iitate Miso in Tokyo

The first thing that came to my mind was the famous saying: "Road to ...."

L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs.

From Yomiuri Shinbun English (11/5/2012):

Fukushima miso finds new life in Tokyo

FUKUSHIMA--A unique miso created by residents in a Fukushima Prefecture village that was evacuated due to the nuclear crisis has been revived by a group of Tokyo homemakers who are using the Fukushima bean paste as a base for a new miso.

Eight homemakers of farming families in Iitate's Sasu district started making "Sasu no miso" about 30 years ago, using mostly ingredients produced in the village. The miso was naturally fermented over two years in special tubs made from walnut trees, giving it a distinct, savory fragrance. People came from all over the prefecture--and even further afield--to buy the miso.

However, the village was designated as part of the expanded evacuation zone after the crisis began at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. As a result, the homemakers, including Eiko Kanno, 76, had to evacuate, leaving the precious miso behind in an earthen storehouse.

With nobody around to take care of the miso, there was a time when it was in danger of disappearing forever. But then came some unexpected help.

Rea Masuda, president of a publishing company and a consumers' group representative in Tokyo, suggested that Kanno make a new miso product using Sasu no miso as its base to "inherit" the unique aroma. Masuda became acquainted with Kanno's group because she often purchased products from the village.

Kanno agreed to the proposal. When she temporarily returned home in November last year, she brought back about 50 kilograms of Sasu no miso from the storehouse and entrusted it to Masuda's group.

After checks were conducted to confirm the miso did not contain dangerous levels of radiation, Masuda and other association members held workshops in Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture and elsewhere for homemakers to whip up the new product.

The group made about 500 kilograms of miso based on Sasu no miso and decided to sell about 120 kilograms of it at a sales booth at a temporary housing complex in the Matsukawa district in Fukushima city, where the villagers now live.

The group plans to keep making the miso next year and beyond.

"We don't want the genes of the village's miso to die out," Masuda said.

I'd rather that the "genes" died out. But Ms. Masuda's group is very actively pushing the program to "adopt" the Iitate miso. Active, live microorganisms in the miso had been in the irradiated environment in Iitate for 8 months or so, but "no health effect" for the organisms, I suppose.

I'm starting to feel that I do not have common genes with these people.

In the meantime, one of the two Iitate-mura residents that I follow on Twitter, Mr. Ito, casually tweeted the other day that the much prized Matsutake mushrooms he just collected would probably measure anything from 1,000 to 15,000 becquerels/kg. He said he was thinking of sending them to TEPCO with an invoice.


JAnonymous said...

If you quote french, I have to quote japanese ;-)
Also it applies well to those people and their storry !


Anonymous said...

Kuso Miso Technique.

Anonymous said...

Come on now, preserving and selling a village's miso should always take precedence over "baseless rumoured" radionuclide contamination. Help out your fellow Japanese country members! Live and die together no matter how moronic the logic!

Anonymous said...

this is awesome!
humans continue thru time, even if they have defects, because they are altruistic .. why else don't we just kill people who wear glasses?
anyways, if we continue on the nuclear path/way, this single cross-species altruism will ensure our legacy even in a completely nuclear devastated future inhabit by only bean-paste eating "miso-entitys". let's just hope the miso-entity doesn't read this and hastens our demise so it can become sole raioactive-proof overlord of earth ...

Anonymous said...

It is hard to face the fact that your home has been contaminated effectively forever and life has changed forever and all of this for a pittance of subsidies to your local city -- or maybe not even that if you did not live close enough.
However being in a state of denial does not justify selling contaminated food, even if it is below the goverment limits.

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