I visited a greenhouse of Sanuki no Mezame, which cultivates asparagus, a seasonal spring vegetable beloved by people in Kagawa.

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  • I visited a greenhouse of Sanuki no Mezame, which cultivates asparagus, a seasonal spring vegetable beloved by people in Kagawa.

In spring, this asparagus can be found in nice locations in supermarkets. It is also included in the recommended items at restaurants with a note such as “Sanuki no Mezame has arrived!” This is an asparagus brand from Kagawa. An asparagus harvest festival is held each spring and attracts thousands of people. I had become curious about the beloved vegetable, so I visited a farmer who grows asparagus.



I drove from central Takamatsu-shi for 30 minutes. The greenhouse was located in a residential area.
“Nice to meet you.”
Ms. Kaoru Kawada greeted me. She is a well-known, female farmer in Kagawa and grows broccoli and sweet corn in addition to asparagus.


She led me into her greenhouse. As I stepped inside, I found a line of tall trees.


"Are those asparagus?”
I had imagined sprouts on numerous ridges. Unexpectedly, I saw leaves grow thickly in a very ample space.

I looked down at the base and there it was—Sanuki no Mezame.


The original produce from Kagawa is characteristically longer than Welcome, a foreign species that is typically distributed. Also, Sanuki no Mezame has firm tips and is soft through to the base. Compare the two and the difference is obvious.


(Left) Sanuki no Mezame, (right) Welcome

In Ms. Kawada’s greenhouse, the harvest starts in late February or early March. She said spring like March and April is the best time to eat Sanuki no Mezame. “It tastes very sweet and delicious,” she answered with a shining smile.


Harvesting continues after that time. Up to summer, the asparagus takes on a refreshingly sweet flavor.
"This was just harvested. Try it.”
I tried one of the nearly 30-centimeter stems that were to be shipped from the greenhouse. I picked it up and found that it was larger than I had imagined.


I took a bite of its tip. It was soft and directly conveyed the flavor of asparagus.
“The top and bottom taste different.”
Then I took a bite of the bottom. It was juicy and softly sweet. Gradually I noticed moisture coming from the cross-section. This is due to a phenomenon in which the nutrients of a tree travel to its roots in the fall, when the temperature drops. After surviving the winter, a sprout of asparagus stores plenty of nutrients in its roots.
In the summer, the sprout undergoes photosynthesis and its nutrients are sent to the root, thereby forming buds.


When you eat asparagus, sometimes you may find the hard stringiness uncomfortable. When eating Sanuki no Mezame, you will not feel the stringy texture at all. A fresh stem contains a lot of moisture and is soft to chew to the point where its stringiness is hardly noticeable.


In comparison with Welcome, Sanuki no Mezame has a thinner, softer epidermis. This means it is susceptible to diseases and must be grown in a greenhouse. Asparagus growers in other areas spread ridges and seedlings over their fields and prune the leaves before cultivating them. In Kagawa, asparagus is grown on high ridges in a well-ventilated, large space so it will grow vigorously.
Sanuki no Mezame is cultivated heartily and carefully.


“Yes, Mezame-san is very delicate.”
Ms. Kawada devotes a lot of attention to her vegetables.

She said that the neighboring greenhouse has other varieties of asparagus, so we took a look.
This is another cultivar of Sanuki no Mezame.


Sanuki no Mezame Violeta

Purple-colored externally and yellow-green inside, Sanuki no Mezame contains abundant moisture and juiciness. It grows slowly with a limited harvest. Nevertheless, orders continue from famous restaurants.


Did you know that asparagus is part of the lily family?
A lily-like, small and white flower blooms.
“The flowers of asparagus are divided into male and female. Pollination occurs between adjacent trees, and they seed.”


Both the flower and seed are small and cute.
I was beginning to find asparagus adorable.

It can also be eaten raw. What is a recommended way to eat it?
“For fresh stems, it would be best to cook them simply. Char-grilling or sautéing with butter brings out the taste well.”
Buy it and bring it home as a souvenir, then eat it within the same day.


In spring, items with Sanuki no Mezame can be found on the tables of many different restaurants in Takamatsu.

Asparagus Osawagi takes place every April and makes the people in Kagawa excited.


The harvest of Sanuki no Mezame continues until around October. We highly recommend that you visit Takamatsu and try the asparagus that is carefully grown like royalty.


INFORMATION

Selection by the Experience Takamatsu Steering Committee: Restaurants in Takamatsu-shi serving Sanuki no Mezame

The availability of Sanuki no Mezame differs among restaurants. You are advised to contact the restaurant and make a reservation ahead of time.

Chinese Restaurant Beijing, Honkan

Address
2-8 Kataharamachi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
TEL
087-822-2141
URL
http://www.pekin.co.jp/
Supported languages
日本語、中文

Nikuyama

Address
1F Kawada Building, 11-1 Kameicho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
TEL
087-832-2929
URL
https://www.facebook.com/%E8%82%89%E5%B1%B1-%E9%AB%98%E6%9D%BE-829034493897128/
Supported languages
日本語

Yamacho Takamatsu-minami

Address
1492-3 Azamiyajiri, Tahikamimachi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
TEL
087-814-6022
URL
http://yamacho29.com/
Supported languages
日本語

Yamacho Yashima

Address
1927-1 Yashimanishimachi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
TEL
087-880-0190
URL
http://yamacho29.com/
Supported languages
日本語

Yakiniku Nakamura Nishinomaru

Address
1F Suitoya Building, 13-7 Nishinomarucho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
TEL
087-822-1109
URL
https://nakamura-n.owst.jp/
Supported languages
日本語

Yakiniku Nakamura Nishinomaru Yashima

Address
2484-4 Yashimanishimachi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
TEL
087-818-0291
URL
https://nakamurayashima.owst.jp/
Supported languages
日本語

Yakiniku Nakamura Honten

Address
444-14 Ohno, Kagawacho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
TEL
087-879-8929
URL
https://nakamurahonten.owst.jp/
Supported languages
日本語

Gathering date:2018.10.1 / Chinese Restaurant Beijing, Honkan

KEYWORDS

PHOTOGRAPHERPHOTOGRAPHER

Yu Sakaguchimore

Yu Sakaguchi is a photographer who photographs the beautiful scenery of the 138 habited islands in the Seto Inland Sea, agricultural, mountain and fishing villages in Shikoku. He makes his living in design work relating to primary industry. His website Monogatari o Todokeru Shigoto (“The Job of Delivering Stories”) introduces the beautiful scenery, culinary culture and various other aspects of Shikoku and the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, and has been accessed by users in over 160 different countries. Feeling that it would be difficult to preserve the scenery in front of him for the next generation by simply distributing information alone, together with his fellow Shikoku-loving companions, he launched Shikoku Taberu (Food) Tsushin magazine, and began his work communicating the food culture and stories of the region. He is a director for the Sanagouchi Village foundation. He was awarded the Japan Ningenryoku (“Human Skill”) Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award in 2015.

https://yousakana.jp/

PHOTOGRAPHERPHOTOGRAPHER

Masaki Minagawa(NOCOS)more

Masaki Minagawa was born in Osaka in 1985. After graduating from the Japan Institute of Photography and Film, he started work at Nice! Ltd., where he learned mainly bridal and other human photography; before becoming independent and establishing Nocos photography in 2015. His current activities focus primarily on family, bridal and commemorative photographs. He also shoots photographs for corporate homepages, advertisements and architectural work.

WRITER WRITER

Eri Kotakimore

Eri Kotaki was born in Takamatsu, in Kagawa prefecture. After studying fashion, color and graphic design at university, she developed a love of travel, local gourmet cuisine and photography; and became an editor/writer. After working in various positions in editorial production and publishing companies in Tokyo, she joined the Takamatsu City Regional Promotion Cooperative Group in July 2017. She now spends her days uncovering and communicating information about the appeal and attraction of Takamatsu and its surrounding areas. Her top recommended location is the night view from Sunport Takamatsu. Her most recommended train is the Hiyaku, which runs on the Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad.

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