Rice and Roots: Exploring the Cultural Essence of Hida

お米炊き動画

Cooking Rice

At SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiro, we want you to enjoy the core part of this culture. The rice might taste better or worse than you expect, and your view of the rice paddies surrounding the town of Hida Furukawa might change a bit.

We used to share the homemade rice produced by our family with the guests at SUEHIRO. However, as my children grew and our rice consumption increased, the amount available to share decreased. Therefore, we now share or buy rice from local farmers in Hida. Please forgive us!

Characteristics of Japanese Rice

Japanese rice is characterized by its strong stickiness and chewy texture. It has a subtle flavor, allowing one to taste the original flavor of the rice. Japanese rice grains are short and round, resulting in a fluffy cooked rice.

Rice is commonly cultivated in paddy fields utilizing the cool climate and abundant water resources, and the milling technology is advanced. This leads to the production of high-quality rice. In other countries, differences in climate, soil, and cultivation techniques seem to affect the characteristics of rice.

Rice Cultivation and Japanese Culture

Unlike the double cropping of rice in other parts of Asia, Japan’s rice cultivation aims for one harvest per year, reflecting the very essence of Japan’s natural landscape.

Being an agrarian nation, especially in rural areas, much of Japan’s culture and values have been influenced by rice cultivation. It seems like the diligence, concept of time, and customs, even seen in Tokyo, carry the DNA of influences from rice cultivation.

Setting aside the complexities, try cooking and tasting the rice for yourself.

今日は、特に私たちの生活に深く根ざす食文化に焦点を当て、地元飛騨で愛情を込めて育てられたお米についてお話しします。

日本米の特徴

日本のお米は、粘りが強く、もちもちとした食感が特徴です。日本の米は味が淡白で、米本来の風味を感じることができます。日本の米は粒が短くて丸みを帯びており、炊き上がりがふっくらとしています。

冷涼な気候と豊富な水資源を利用した水田での栽培が一般的で、精米技術も高度です。これにより、品質の高い米が生産されます。他の国々では、気候や土壌の違い、栽培技術の差が米の特性に影響を与え得るようです。

稲作と日本の文化

アジアの他地域の二毛作の稲作と異なり、1度の収穫を目指し1年間かけて生産をおこなう日本の稲作は日本の原風景そのもの。

農耕民族であった日本、特に地方の文化や価値観は、稲作から影響を受けていると言える部分が多くあります。勤勉さや時間への観念、風習など東京に行っても行動様式のDNAには稲作からの影響があるような気がします。

難しいことは、おいておいて一度ご自身で炊いて、食べてみてください。

お米を炊く

SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiroでは、そんな文化のコアの部分を楽しく体験して欲しくご提供しています。思ったより美味しかったり、不味かったり・・・飛騨古川の街を降り囲む田んぼの見え方が少し変わるかもしれませんね。

かつて、私たちの家族でつくった自家製のお米をSUEHIROのお客様と分かち合っていました。しかし、私の子どもたちが成長し、お米の消費量が増えるにつれ、分ける量が少なくなってしまいました。そこで、今は地元飛騨の農家からお米を分けてもらうか購入するお裾分けしています。許してね!

Green Tea

Let’s dive right into introducing a delicious and enjoyable way to brew green tea.

  • With green tea, you can savor four different tastes: umami (savory), aroma, astringency, and bitterness.
  • The lower the temperature of the water, the easier it is to extract umami, while hotter water tends to bring out astringency and bitterness.
  • Tea leaves can be enjoyed multiple times, not just once.

For the first brew:
t’s recommended to put the tea leaves in a teapot and brew with relatively low-temperature water for the first extraction, to enjoy the umami flavor of the tea leaves.

  • Green tea leaves: 4g (per person)
  • Water: About 150cc (per person)

Pouring Method:

  1. Add the tea leaves to the teapot.
  2. Pour water heated to 50-60°C into the teapot.
  3. After about 1 minute and 30 seconds, pour the tea into the cups to drink.

Quantities:

  • Green tea: 4g per person
  • Water: 150cc per person

For the Second Brew and Beyond:

Use hotter water (around 90°C) than for the first brew, and steep for about 30 seconds to also enjoy a suitable level of astringency and bitterness. Please adjust the temperature to explore and find your preferred taste.

さっそく、美味しくも楽しい緑茶の淹れ方を紹介します。

・緑茶では「旨味」「香り」「渋み」「苦味」の4つの味覚を楽しめる
・お湯の温度が低いほど「旨味」が抽出されやすく、熱いほど「渋み」や「苦味」が抽出される
・茶葉は、1度だけでなく数回楽しめる

【1回目】

茶葉を急須に入れ、1回目の抽出は温度を比較的低めにして、茶葉の持つ「旨味」を楽しむのがおすすめです。

・緑茶 4g(1人当たり)
・お湯:150ccくらい(1人当たり)

【注ぎ方】

(1)茶葉を急須に注ぐ
(2)50〜60°のお湯を急須に注ぐ
(3)約1分30秒ほどで湯呑みの注ぎ飲む

【量】

・緑茶 4g/ 1人当り
・お湯:150cc/ 1人当り

【2回目 以降】
1回目より熱いお湯(約90°)、抽出時間30秒ほどで、程より「渋み」や「苦味」をも楽しむ。
ぜひ、温度の調整をしてお好みの味を追求してみてください。

Tea plants in Nitta Seicha’s field

Savoring the Unique Delights of Shirakawa Tea at SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiro

I would like to talk about a special tea we offer at our inn, Shirakawa tea.

Shirakawa tea is a type of tea leaf produced in Shirakawa Village and Higashi-Shirakawa Village in Gifu Prefecture, although Shirakawa is not Shirakwa-go. These villages are located on the route that heads south from Hida through the Southern Alps.

This unique regional tea is rare in Japan, with its production accounting for less than 1% of the national total. The reason for this rarity is that Shirakawa is one of the few tea cultivation areas in Japan and is known for being one of the highest altitude production areas.

Shirakawa tea is cultivated in the misty mountain regions. The mist serves as a “natural ultraviolet shielding veil” protecting the tea leaves from direct sunlight, thus uniquely influencing the flavor of the tea. This environment is ideal for tea cultivation. The mist increases the catechin content, creating a clean fragrance and a wild astringency, making its taste truly exquisite.

Moreover, because it is grown in high-altitude mountain areas, the significant temperature differences between day and night contribute to Shirakawa tea’s refreshing taste and rich aroma.

Among the Shirakawa teas, those from Nitta Seicha are particularly noteworthy. Nitta Seicha’s tea fields are situated at an altitude of 300 to 500 meters, which contributes to the high aroma and deep flavor of Shirakawa tea. Additionally, Nitta Seicha, with its integrated production system from cultivation to manufacturing, maintains the quality and passion in their tea-making process, tailored to the state of the tea.

At SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiro, you can enjoy this wonderful Shirakawa tea.

Whether starting your day or during a relaxed moment, please enjoy the unique taste of this regional tea.

白川の秘宝:新田製茶の白川茶の魅力

今日は、当宿で提供している特別なお茶、白川茶についてお話ししたいと思います。

白川茶は岐阜県の白川村・東白川村で生産される茶葉です。飛騨から南アルプスを抜けようと南下する集落にあたります。

この地域特有のお茶は、日本全国でも珍しく、その生産量は日本全体の1%未満に過ぎません。なぜなら、白川は数少ないお茶の栽培産地の一つで、最も標高の高い生産地として知られているからです。 白川茶は、霧が多い山間部で育ちます。この霧は、お茶の葉を直射日光から守る「天然の紫外線よけヴェール」の役割を果たし、茶の風味に独特の影響を与えます。この環境は、お茶の栽培にとって理想的です。霧によってカテキンが増加し、すっきりとした香りと野生的な渋みが生まれ、その味わいはまさに絶品です。 また、標高の高い山間部で育つため、昼夜の温度差が大きく、これが白川茶のさわやかな味と高い香りを生み出しています。

白川茶の中でも、特に新田製茶のお茶は注目に値します。新田製茶の茶畑は標高300メートルから500メートルの間に位置し、この標高が白川茶の高い香気と滋味深い味わいをもたらしています。さらに、栽培から製造まで一貫した生産体制を持つ新田製茶は、お茶の状態に合わせた製茶技術で品質と情熱を守り続けています。

SUKIYA-zukuri Suehiroでは、この素晴らしい白川茶をご堪能いただけます。

一日の始まりに、またはゆったりとした時間に、ぜひこの地域特有の味わいをお楽しみください。

Sake Culture

Life with Sake

The life in Hida Furukawa and Sake are inseparable. There used to be more than 10 sake breweries in town wineries still  produce sake, using local underground water and locally produced rice. For every seasonal occasion, for celebrations or condolences, people give sake as gifts. It is not unusual to see people walking with a wrapping cloth with two shous (unit of old Japanese liquid measurement, 1.8L=1shou) of sake in it. Drinking sake in the meetings and parties play an important role in communication. All through the year in the small bars all over the town, locals sit and talk on the counter, drinking Atsukan(hot sake) at their hand,which is a typical traditional scene in this area. It might be fun to take a look, for these small bars welcome everyone. Sake has a meeting of purification in the divine service, therefore it will be sprayed not only to equipment for Okoshi Daiko, but also to the bodies of men facing to the drums. It is said that almost 80% of the winery’s total producing sake in consumed in local, and that tells how sake play significant roles in many scenes of the living in this area.