Monday 24 October 2011


Hi folks
My close friends and family will know of Endo-san, an old family friend who has a field of persimmon trees near where I used to live in Sakuragaoka. Persimmon come in two kinds: the ones you can eat straight off the tree and the ones that have a terrible taste (shibui 渋いin Japanese), that make your mouth pucker and you have to spit out. But if they're treated, either by wiping in alcohol (shochu 焼酎) and keeping wrapped up in a box for a couple of weeks, or by drying, they are food for the gods. Endo-san and his wife spend many weeks every autumn peeling the fruit and hanging them up in strings to dry.

But bad news this year for dried persimmons. Samples in Date (pronounced Dattey) north of Fukushima which is famous for its Anpo-gaki, luscious semi-dried fruit, have shown high concentrations of caesium. One sample, for example, showed 40 bq/kg for the raw fruit, but 122 for Anpo-gaki, and 213 for regular dried fruit. Some were higher than the permitted level of 500bq/kg and shipment has been stopped in three areas. Bad news for the boxmakers there too.

Endo-san and his wife peeling persimmons three years ago

I was worried about Endo-san and his wife but didn't want to say anything. I saw him yesterday. He said that one of the varieties he grows (Mishirazu, a seedless variety) has been tested locally and is clear. But his son has been nagging him not to dry the fruit so he says he'll not do it this year. I asked him what he would do with all the fruit and he said he'd leave it on the trees for the birds. What a waste. And it's a good crop too.

One of our salesmen went to Minami Soma today and drove through the 'planned evacuation area' . He said it was like a ghost town. No one around. No cars. Silent. No crops in the fields. There were weeds but only a foot or so high. Eventually he met a woman walking a dog but it turned out that she was just visiting to take care of the dog and doesn't live there. He said the houses didn't look bad as people are visiting to take care of things. He was stopped from going (accidentally) near the no go zone and put in on the right track by a policeman from Osaka.

And finally, here's a new word for those of you who like to keep up with the language. Do you know what a Sumaho is? スマホ It's a contraction of スマートフオン or Smartphone!

Bye for now

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