Monday, October 26, 2009

Mikan Picking

This weekend we were invited to go Mikan picking with a group of families from the base along with Tokiko our Yokosuka Fairy Godmother (Tokiko is the lady who took us on the outing to the Fish Market). We started off with overcast skies, keeping our fingers crossed the weather would hold out. Four cars, caravan style, headed outside the gates for another adventure in Japan.

The Mikan orchard was about a 30 minute drive south of here along the Miura Peninsula. It was an easy drive, passing by Miura Beach where there was a Wind Surfing competition taking place – the wind was strong and those guys were flying across the water. At the top of a hill, just after Miura Beach we all turned off onto a narrow road towards the water. The road was so narrow that a truck headed in our direction “forced” a car ahead of us to back up until the truck could get by. Not far off the main road the caravan pulled into a teeny tiny parking lot where we double parked our cars in order to get us all in. When we all piled out we discovered that just below us, carved out of the side of the hill was the Mikan orchard and off in the distance you could see Kaneda Bay – it was very picturesque. With space so limited, the Japanese seem to be able to fit in fields and orchards where we Americans would probably think it’s not possible. The first photo was taken from the top of the hill, the Iijima Mikan Orchard was just below us.

Honey Citrus

Mikans are Japanese tangerines – also called Satsuma, the seedless mandarin. Closest thing we have back home are Clementines. These little citrus fruits are sweet and delicious and the name translates to “Honey Citrus of Wenzhou” – that should clue you in to just how good they are. The kids all had fun picking them and it’s a good thing they eat the Mikans like candy … we have quite a lot.

Tokiko knows the owners of the farm and so in addition to picking the Mikans we had the added bonus of a side trip to a sweet potato field to dig up our own potatoes. If you notice the first photo from the slide show you can see some fields way off in the distance – towards the water – that’s where the sweet potato field was. We all piled back in our cars and followed the Iijima Orchard guide, winding our way past fields, traditional Japanese houses and then right at the edge of the sweet potato field was a more modern neighborhood. Our kids had fun digging up the potatoes, and the ever efficient and courteous Japanese even had gloves there for everyone to use! Check out the photo of Jeff and Mitchell showing their “catch of the day.”

Kojima Kojin Mocks Me!

Remember how I mentioned in a previous entry how much I loved sweet potatoes? I think Kojima Kojin, the “God of the Cooking Range” decided to have a little fun with me … “Ahhhh, she like sweet potato! Let’s see how much she like!” (I am learning that in Japanese they drop words, because they are inferred, and they have no participles - o.k. I have to confess, I am relearning my English grammar – when our teacher told us “The Japanese language has no participles” I was thinking to myself … “come on Jane, participle, participle … think, think.” Thank goodness the classmate next to me muttered under her breath “now if I can only remember what a participle is” whew, glad to know I wasn’t the only one!). Well, it is true, I do love them but … even someone who loves sweet potatoes has to wonder what in the world she will do with over 20 lbs of Sweet Potatoes (I know, I weighed them). Jeff said we’ll be like Bubba from Forrest Gump … Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Pudding, Sweet Potato Soup, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potato Crisp, Sweet Potato Balls, … anyone have any “to die for” sweet potato recipes? If you do, email them to me – I’ll be cooking sweet potatoes for quite a while. For more information on Kojima Kojin go to:

Uummmm, does anyone know what these are?

As we were leaving the Mikan picking area we were each handed a bag that contained radishes. Very large radishes. Lots and lots of radishes. Each of us were given a bag of beautifully cleaned radishes – I have 5 bags worth of radishes (see photo)! I’m starting to feel like I need a root cellar. I’m thinking, what in the world will I do with all these radishes? So off to the library I go, checking out 3 Japanese cookbooks to try and figure out different ways I can use these ... I’ll let you know how successful I am.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention – or is it “The Necessary ...”?

The day ended with a stop at a family style restaurant – reminded me of a Japanese type of Denny’s or Big Boy. It was fun – every time I turn around there’s always some unexpected experience. I decided before we headed out that I would visit the ladies room and crack me up! When I entered the personal toilet area all of a sudden I heard a “waterfall sound” and I realized that there must be some type of motion sensor to set off a nature sound to cover well, um, your own nature sound. I just starting laughing – leave it to the Japanese to come up with something like that! I guess when you have so many people living close together they come up with all kinds of ways to be discreet.

Tokiko gave us such a wonderful gift that day. A “thank you” seems inadequate when she opened up another door to the Japanese culture that we wouldn’t normally have, had she not shared her friendship with us. I am truly grateful for the good fortune that has brought her into our lives.

Well, tomorrow I head to Tokyo in the afternoon – will report back if anything interesting pops up – how can it not, in this fascinating country? Till next time, sayonara.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts