Digging up bamboo shoots in the Japanese countryside!

A few weeks ago I went with my host family to a place in the more rural areas of Shikoku, about an hour by car southwest of Takamatsu, close to Mitoyo City. The purpose of this trip was to go do something, that even for my host family, was for the first time.

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In a heavily forested area of bamboo trees, we went to go harvest baby bamboo trees, or bamboo shoots, to cook for dinner that night. To do this, we tool that could be describes as a cross between a hoe, and a pickaxe. The targeted crop for harvesting is very small in comparison to an adult bamboo tree, and in order to harvest it properly, you need to use the tool to dig a small trench around the crop and then pry it out of the ground just above the root.

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Once the bamboo shoots are dug up, the owner of the land began to prepare them for boiling. First he would cut them in half and peel off the outer shell, leaving something like this…

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Then the half-cones would be put into a pot of boiling water over a stoked fire to cook and become soft for a bit before they were bagged up for us to take home.

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After we had boiled all the bamboo we could ever want, we all sat down for coffee, tea, and some snacks before we headed back.

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After we got home, I was amazed at all the different ways in which my host family was able to cook the bamboo shoots!

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There were about four variations on the table, there was also some bamboo fried rice, and even, fried bamboo balls!

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All in all, I had a great time out doing something new with my host family! I always get to try such strange and uniquely Japanese activities with them and I’ll be forever grateful to them for sharing these experiences with me!

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Until next time!

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