- Main lore areas
- Main ingredients used
arrowhead, dried gardenia fruit, soup stock, sugar, mirin
- History/origin/related events
Kuwai no Ama-ni is a stew that is known for its sweet taste, which is seasoned with broth, sugar, and mirin. The dish is named after "kuwaimo," a potato-like fruit that grows under the leaves shaped like a hoe for digging up the earth. There are three types of arrowhead: ao kuwai (blue arrowhead), shiroi kuwai (white arrowhead), and suita kuwai. Ao kuwai, the main type grown in Japan, is characterized by its round, spherical shape and vivid blue surface. Fukuyama City produces the largest amount of arrowhead in Japan, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries' "Survey on Regional Vegetable Production in Japan in 2018". It is also referred to as the "sapphire of the rice field" due to its beautiful color. Arrowhead is a nutritious root vegetable that is rich in protein and potassium. It has a dusty texture and a sweet taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste. In Japanese cuisine, it is considered a lucky food and is often served during festive occasions. Fukuyama's arrowhead is particularly famous and is in high demand as an ingredient in Osechi dishes. The best time to get shipments of this root vegetable is between November and December. The mild Seto Inland Sea climate of Fukuyama is perfect for growing blue arrowhead. Its cultivation began around 1902 when it grew wild in a swampy area in present-day Senda-cho, Fukuyama City. Later on, it was brought to the fertile moat around Fukuyama Castle. During the Edo period, the Fukuyama clan built additional irrigation canals to convey water from the Ashida River to the new rice paddies. This provided a plentiful supply of water, which helped the cultivation of arrowhead to flourish in Fukuyama.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Arrowhead is a common food item in osechi, a traditional Japanese New Year's cuisine, believed to bring good luck. During the Edo period, samurai families in castle towns used to serve osechi dishes that contained arrowheads. However, in the Meiji period, ordinary people began preparing osechi dishes, which included arrowheads. By the 1950s, stacked boxes of osechi dishes containing arrowheads were extensively sold in department stores, and the custom of eating arrowheads on New Year's Day became popular. Locals typically consume arrowhead from November to December while it is in season.
- How to eat
Boil the arrowhead and remove the skin, keeping only the buds. Then, cook the arrowhead in a broth made with sugar, mirin, and dried gardenia fruit. After boiling, allow it to soak overnight to absorb the flavors. Other delicious ways to serve arrowhead include frying it, making an arrowhead salad, or creating arrowhead chips.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Fukuyama Arrowhead is registered under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries' Geographical Indication (GI) protection system. It is highly regarded for its strict quality control, fruit selection system, and mountain history.