August 2021


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The vertical stripes that are characteristic of Matsusaka cotton are also called "Matsusaka-shima." Even today, kabuki actors wearing striped kimonos are called "wearing Matsusaka," indicating that Matsusaka cotton was representative of stripes.

The striped pattern of "Matsusaka-shima" comes from "crossing the island (importation)" of "Ryujo cloth," a cotton cloth with a narrow striped pattern like the veins of willow leaves, which was woven in the 15th century in the area around present-day northern Vietnam.

In the Edo period, Matsusaka cotton (then called Ise cotton or Seishu cotton) became very popular. At a time when the population of Edo was said to be one million, sales were over 500,000 a year. In particular, the Nihonbashi-Odenmacho 1-chome area was so crowded with cotton wholesalers from Ise Province that it was ridiculed as "1-chome (Odenmacho) is all about Ise stores," and the scene was depicted in Utagawa Hiroshige's Nishiki-e.

At that time in Edo, people could no longer wear gorgeous kimonos without hesitation due to the thrift ordinance. The common people of Edo took pride in the word "iki," which refers to a clean and unpretentious character, attitude, and appearance. From a distance, it looks plain, but when you get closer, you can see various striped patterns, giving it an "iki" and fashionable look that attracted the attention of Edo people.

There used to be more than 1,000 weavers in Matsusaka, the production area, but now there is only one weaver left. This one house alone supports the entire production of Matsusaka cotton. Marukawa Shoten is working with the last weavers to succeed and revive Matsusaka cotton.

It's nice to stroll around the city with the stripes of rustic texture and indigo blue that gets deeper the more you wash it.

Marukawa Shoten's Original Azuma Bukuro 
Marukawa Shoten's Shijimi 


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[Osezushi in Uozu City, Toyama Prefecture]

Osezushi, a local dish in Uozu City, Toyama Prefecture, is said to have gotten its name from the accent of "oshizushi (pressed sushi)." To make it, flake the grilled mackerel meat away from its bone, sandwich it between rice, top with nori seaweed and weigh it down, and leave it overnight.

Osezushi used to be called "fish rice," which comes from the custom of eating fish between rice. Later, improvements were made, such as the use of vinegar to make it last longer, and it became what it is today.

A large size osezushi is made for celebrations, but we cut the osezushi into four pieces using the pressed sushi box so that we could enjoy it easily at home.

Recently, various types of osezushi have been introduced, and if you are outside of Japan, you can easily make it by substituting sea chicken mayonnaise for the grilled mackerel.

It looks simple, black and white, but one bite and you can feel the concentrated flavor of the fish and rice.

Yamaichi's Pressed Sushi Box
Otera Kohachiro Shoten's Kanamari
Yamaichi's Sushi Handai

References (Recipe)


[Fukashinasu, a Local Summer Dish in Niigata]

Summer is the season for eggplants, and in this time of year, you can find them in supermarkets every day in Japan.

In Niigata Prefecture, which ranks first in Japan in the area of eggplant cultivation (and is also the largest consumer of eggplant in Japan), many varieties of eggplant are grown, with about 18 or more varieties being produced. Each variety is suitable for pickling, baking, and stewing, and which variety is best depends on the dish.

Steamed eggplant, which is rare in other prefectures, also exists as a local dish. It is called "fukashinasu" (or "nasubukashi" in some areas). It is a side dish that appears on the summer tables of Niigata residents and is often eaten in every household.

Eggplant is said to have a cooling effect on the body and is eaten to beat the summer heat.

The best way to eat fukashinasu in Niigata is with soy sauce mixed with mustard. You can also often find Niigata residents using the round-shaped kinchaku eggplant, a traditional vegetable of Niigata Prefecture. When you find "kinchaku eggplant," we recommend you make "fukashinasu" at home.

Yamaichi's Chinese Seiro
Adachi Shigehisa Shoten's Wappa Seiro
Nakamura Douki's Bamboo Pot Steamer (The price will increase by 150 JPY on September 1st)

Reference (Recipe)