Children smile after digging up Nerima daikon radishes in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward on Dec. 3, 2017. (Asahi Shimbun file photo) At a vegetable farm in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward the other day, I dug up a "Nerima daikon," a variety of white daikon radish that this ward is famous for. I didn’t exactly underestimate the job, but it turned out much tougher than imagined because the roots went unexpectedly deep. At first, I just grasped the daikon by its leafy stem and pulled. But it was bulbous halfway down, and wouldn’t budge until I repositioned myself into a crouch and pulled with all my might. The daikon I dug up was a whopping 70 centimeters long. "The job is easier this year because the long wet spell of this past autumn made the ground wetter and softer than usual," noted Yoshitaka Shiraishi, 65, the owner of the farm. "This job is a backbreaker every year." Shiraishi’s ancestors started farming on their land in the early Edo Period (1603-1867). The Nerima daikon has a long history. According to local lore, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1646-1709), the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa Dynasty, was cured of chronic beriberi after eating this vegetable. Prepared as […]

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