In Japan, many foods have a direct historic connection with the seasons. Japanese enjoy hunting for seasonal produce such as Chestnuts, Apples and Mushrooms. In Japan, mushrooms are given the generic name “Kinoko” and mushroom hunting is known as “Kinokogari.” Japan has many mountainous regions that support the natural growth of mushrooms. “Kinokogari” has a long history and is thought to have originated during the “Jomon period” (14,000 BC – 300BC), based upon the found remains of “Kinoko,” related artifacts. In the Edo preiod(1603-1838) “Kinokogari” was a distinctive way for wealthy merchant class women to celebrate the fall season.
You can find many type’s of “Kinoko” in grocery stores and food markets and most “Kinoko” is produced by commercial farming methods. But certain types of “Kinoko” are impossible or not feasible to commercially produce. “Matsutake Kinoko” is one (with a distinct, spicy aroma) that cannot be commercially grown due to rare environmental requirements. “Matsutake” growth requirements are similar to the rare and highly prized “Kinoko,” like French truffle. “Matsutake” grow and are found concealed under decaying foliage near Japanese Red Pine trees.”Matsutake” is expensive. The cost can reach 50,000 yen per 100g. Yet, gourmets enjoy its flavor and taste. You can find quality “Matsutake” in most stores or you can go into certain Japanese mountainous areas to hunt this delicious “Kinoko.”
Another unique Japanese summer “Kinoko” is “Chichitake,” which has a characteristic fish-like smell and is used for a soup base. It is named because of its characteristics. When you mash up, the white liquid like milk bleed out. If you are planning to go on a “Kinokogari” you need to contract an expert guide who is “Kinoko” familiar and knows the areas where they can be found. Wear a long sleeve shirt and tight clothing to avoid mosquito bites and beware of bees, snakes and bears.
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