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|