The Edo period allowed Japan to enjoy 250 years of stability from 1603-1868. This time was the last period of traditional and ancient Japan before the Meiji Restoration began. From this time, much art and innovation occurred bringing new and reviving old cultures. Food was one of these aspects which developed and gave rise to Edo vegetables.
Edo-Tokyo vegetables are specific vegetables which were grown and cultivated during the Edo period of Japan. These crops have not been modified for centuries but are quite difficult to grow in modern Tokyo. The vegetables only thrive in the unique climate and ecology of the Edo area. The industrialisation of Japan almost drove these vegetables into extinction! These vegetables have very rich flavours and are known for their delicious flesh and texture. There are many varieties of Edo-Tokyo vegetables.
- Naito pumpkin
- Magome cucumber
- Magome carrot
- Kanamachi turnup
- Waseda miyoga
- Takinogawa carrot
- Kichijoji Udo
- Shimoyama Chitose Chinese cabbage
- Shinagawa turnip
- Kameido Japanese Radish
- Terajima eggplant
This is just a small selection of the Edo-Tokyo vegetables which have been re-discovered. So far around 50 vegetables have been found! Sadly some of these are extinct. You can see that many of the names contain the names of the area that these vegetables were from. This marks where the original farmers lived and worked when they grew these historical strains.
Although many of these vegetables were thought to be extinct, the work of a few individuals is bringing them back. For the first time in centuries, farmers are specifically focusing on growing traditional Edo-Tokyo vegetables. This means their farming practices echo those of the past which makes it more difficult. They say the reward is in trying them! Now there are even restaurants where Edo-Tokyo vegetables shine. Kimio Nonaga is the third generation owner of Nihonbashi Yukari. He has studied for many years to master washoku and now prepares traditional Japanese food using Edo-Tokyo vegetables. He develops new recipes to specifically display the taste, look and history of the vegetables he gets.