You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!
Starting around the beginning of October, houses and trees throughout the neighborhood are dotted with orange orbs. It’s kaki season; time to eat some persimmons. The little fruits almost look like Christmas lights in the daytime, lining the rafters of the houses. They sway back and forth in the strong sea breeze and are susceptible to being stolen by the crows that lie in wait for an easy meal.
Once the persimmons start popping up around the island, you know fall is in full swing. That’s one of the things I love about Japan; you can always “feel” the season. Fall is felt by the nip in the air, the changing of the leaves, and the persimmons on the trees.
In our area, there are two types of persimmons: Amaigaki (sweet persimmons) and Shibugaki (bitter persimmons). The former can be eaten right off the tree, but the latter must be hung out and dried to sweeten the naturally tart fruit.
Everyone seems to have their own way of making hoshigaki (dried persimmon).
There’s the straightforward way. Just tie the peeled fruit to a string and let them hang by the stems:
There’s the extra protection way, with netting to ensure the fruits won’t be eaten by unwanted guests:
And then there’s the decorative way. Don’t bother tidying up a space; just hang the persimmons as if they belong there:
Some of the little old ladies in the area swear by massaging the fruits once a day, claiming it makes the persimmons sweeter. It seems to work because the hoshigaki that have been massaged have a light dusting of sugary white on the outside.
By now, everyone’s persimmons have been dried after about five weeks out in the chilled air and are sweeter and palatable. The disappearance of hoshigaki from the rafters and overhangs of houses is another signal that winter is right around the corner. Now it’s time to bundle up, sit under the kotatsu, and enjoy the fruits of fall.
Michelle is originally from California, but currently living in the tiny fishing village of Chibu, one of the Oki islands in Japan. Being one of two foreigners living in an island village of a little over 600 people presents many adventures. Come back every Saturday for a new article featuring the interesting and bizarre things she comes across in her life in rural Japan. Once a week not enough? Check out her blog, You, Me, And A Tanuki, for photographs and even more articles.
We’re still looking for more unique and interesting stories from Asia to share with the world, so drop us a line if you’d like to have your own blog featured on RocketNews24.