Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ginko in the Fall

The ginko tree is one of the more well-known symbols of Japan, but there's probably a good chance that no one reading this blog (from outside of Japan, anyway) who's familiar with it. The best approach is to check the wiki entry for the background of the tree, then come back here.

In Japan, the nuts from the tree are particularly popular, and it's a kind of tradition for some families to go to the parks, or to nearby local shrines with buckets and plastic gloves to collect the berries when they drop from the branches sometime around November (at least at the Tokyo latitude). You want the gloves because the fruit of the berries is very stinky, and it's hard to wash out the smell from your hands after picking them up. If you're going to be riding the train back home afterward, you may want an airtight container to put them in, to avoid getting dirty looks from the other passengers. Once home, you want to wait until the fruit softens up so you can remove it from the nut inside. Next, put the nuts outside where the shells can dry in the sun to the point of becoming brittle. Finally, crack the shell of the nut open to get to the meat inside. This is what you're really after with all of this work.

The pictures here are of a shrine near my apartment in Kanagawa, on Nov. 21. Most of the berries had already been swept up and tossed by the grounds keeper. The few left were those that landed on the pedestal of the big marker stone.

Participating in the "Show Me Japan" photo meme.


A and Y Ikeda said...

Ginko trees! We have some huge and famous ones here in Tochigi. Though to be perfectly honest, I am absolutely clueless when it comes to trees.
Thank you so much for joining Show Me Japan this week! It's lovely to have you with us!
Have a fabulous weekend! :-)

Y. Ikeda said...

Year it's Ginnan (銀杏). I agree with you that the smell is "unfriendly" but it tastes good when you put in Chawanmushi.
Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend.

TSOTE said...

We didn't have the patience to make chawanmushi. Instead, we put the ginnan in tofu pockets in oden. Very tasty.

I agree though - I love chawanmushi, and one of my favorite parts is the ginnan.