May 19, 2011

The Passion (Obsession?) in the Search of Sansai, Mountain Vegetables

Have you seen a car parked on the roadside in the middle of nowhere but mountains?

What are they doing? - They are in search of Sansai in the mountain!

What is “Sansai”?

”Sansai” literally means “Mountain Vegetables,” which are wild plants traditionally enjoyed all over Japan. Since they grow in the nature and are hard to cultivate, they are manually collected by local people. The Sansai is the best ingredient in this season!

(From the right top clockwise)
Taranome, Koshiabura, Tempura of Taranome, and Aiko!

The Search Continues:

The search for Sansai harvest becomes so obsessive and even competitive! We hear: “A husband never comes home with poor findings; he’d rather come home empty-handed and pretend he never even went!”

People become so absorbed in the search. They lose the sense of time and direction – some people even end up being searched by a rescue squad instead! (Or bump into a bear or two.)

So, now you know: Never go into the mountain with any guide or knowledgeable local person. The search is not easy. You need the right knowledge and experience to find the right ones!

You can also refer to books like "Shin Oraho-no-Umemono Tazawako-no-Aji" (New "Our Delicious Things: Flavors of Tazawako") You can find a copy at Folake Tazawako Tourist Information Center at JR Tazawako Station.

Where to Taste the Seasonal Sansai:

Thanks to the experienced people, we get to taste different kinds of Sansai on our plate!

If you visit any local restaurants (like Soba Goro, Kimoto) or stay at local inns, you will probably able to taste some kinds! Or you might see some Sansai events like Murakko Bussankan’s Bakkya Festival and as a topping of Stone Oven Pizza at Tazawako Campground!

Sansai is probably the most special thing you could taste on your travel – they are seasonal and regional!


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