Gourmet, Kita-ku, Temples-Shrines, Tsukemono — January 1, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Old fashioned pickling at the Kamigamo shrine.


This is a pickle press at the Kamigamo shrine in kyoto. Tsukemono (漬物,”pickled things”) are Japanese preserved vegetables. A tsukemonoki (漬物器), literally vessel for pickled things, is a Japanese pickle press. The pressure is generated by heavy stones called tsukemonoishi (漬物石) with a weight of one to two kilograms, sometimes more. The weights are either stone or metal.

One of Kyoto’s major tsukemono is suguki.  Suguki is a time-honored kyotsukemono.  Suguki is made of suigukina (a kind of turnip).  It is made with salt and an original process.  Its taste is plain and a little bit salty, with a mild acid flavour.  The making of suguki starts from the beginning of November.  First pickle-makers cut koesuji (suigukina root) and peel its rind.  Then, pickle-makers put them in a special pail called itameoke and salt them down for one day.  The next morning, after finishing shitazuke, the pickle-makers take the pickles out of the pail and wash them with clean water.  Next comes the main part of the process.  Pickle-makers put the vegetables in a pail called handaru and arrange them so that the pail has no empty space, and sprinkle salt on each layer of sugukina inside of handaru.  After they finish it, pickle-makers put the lid on the pail and put 120kg of weight onto it using a traditional way called tenbin (a kind of lever).  The leverage makes the weight twice as heavy.  Within two days, the inside of the pail gets squeezed and has space for more sugukina, which pickle-makers add to the pail. After finishing the process of squeezing out water , they move the pail to the room called muro, which is warm and tightly closed.  Pickle-makers roll the pail in straw to add more heat and leave the pickles for about five days. After finishing that part, pickle-makers unroll the pail, put 40kg of weight onto the pail, and leave the pickles outside for a few days.  That is the process of making of suguki. The picture of using tenbin is often considered as one of Kyoto’s special features in winter on display at the Kamigamo shrine.

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