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Bamboo Harvesting in Mabi Town

Bamboo harvesting has been a centuries old tradition

Mabi Town is a new addition to Kurashiki City but before it decided to amalgamate it was a city that had its own very unique history, community personality and festivals. Of course most Japanese towns have festivals and things that make them unique and special.

I would like to introduce you to the long history of bamboo harvesting. This is done in the spring season and when you drive around Mabi Town you will see the hillsides bursting with bamboo fields. Wanting to learn more about bamboo harvesting I went to my favorite bamboo company Teori and asked them to take me to one of their bamboo fields nearby.

Actually, I was a little scared as I had in my head that I would see snakes everywhere as this was spring and they were waking up from their winter hibernation. But luckily I didn’t see any. As we were walking around my Teori guide was explaining the different growth stages that bamboo goes through. I was surprised to learn that bamboo can grow up to a meter or more in a day. This is probably why bamboo has become so popular as a sustainable product.

Today however, I also wanted to try and dig up a bamboo root and there were plenty of them sticking up from the ground. We used this special type of spade; it was shaped like a spoon which you push into the ground a few centimeters away from the root. You push back and forth and before you know it you have harvested your first bamboo root.

After spending about an hour walking and digging a few more bamboo roots we headed back to Teori. I thanked Teori staff for their time and then I hopped back into my car, drove home and began to prepare my bamboo root for cooking. That night my family would eat bamboo rice and I felt really proud that I have actually dug up this vegetable, which was a first for me. It is spring season now in Japan and I can see the bamboo root stands all around Mabi Town. It’s a nice feeling to be able to have experienced this aged-old tradition.

For those visitors coming to Mabi and perhaps interested in digging their first bamboo root. The district office in Mabi which is now part of Kurashiki City holds group tours for people wanting to experience this. These are usually held during the Golden Week holiday time (which is April 28 to May 6), these tours consist of going to a bamboo field, digging up the roots and then returning to the local community center and cooking takenoko gohan (bamboo rice) for lunch. The price of this morning tour is around 1,200 yen but it varies depending on the size of the group.

As I said, I was lucky enough to have friends who had their own bamboo fields and found the experience to be exciting but I am sure I am not alone if you decide to try this.

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