Monthly Archives: February 2012

Adonis Amurensis (Fukujuso)

February is for ‘Fukujuso’ or Adonis Amurensis, a member of the buttercup family, and also the Robai plum trees with yellow blossoms and a lovely fragrance. The Adonis Amurensis bloom from mid-February to early March in Ryokami, Chichibu, Saitama. The Robai bloom in late January and February.

These pictures were taken at the Fukujuso-en garden in Ryokami, near the top of Mt. Azumaya. It is a few minutes drive up the mountain behind Ryokami Michi-no-eki and hot spring, and then a 10 minute walk from the carpark. From the gardens you can see the view across the valley to Mt. Buko, Chichibu.

Fukujuso (Adonis Amurensis)


Adonis Amurensis


Adonis Amurensis and Robai


Mt Buko in background

There was also a lovely old house which has been converted into a resting spot for hikers.

rest house


rest house at Fukujuso-en, Ryokami



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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in seasonal harvests and flowers




So now you have the miso pressed down into the container, and you need to prepare it for storage.

Sterilize the inner wall of container using alcohol such as cooking sake or grandpa’s shochu liquer!


sterilize wall of container

Cover the surface of the miso with a little salt to prevent mold. Cover with cling wrap (plastic wrap) and put the inner lid on (or a plate).

cover with inner lid

Weight this down with an ‘omoshi’ stone or a plastic bag filled with three kilograms of salt.

weigh down with a bag of salt


Put the top lid on and store in a cool place for nine months or more, while it ferments. Store under the house if cool or in the refrigerator. This is essential to prevent mold. With proper sterilization and cool storage it shouldn’t grow a lot of mold. Traditionally in Japan people would mix mold in if it was just a little mold and of a reasonable colour (not red for example) or scrape it off. Probably better to scrape it off.

Please use your discretion.



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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


Home-made MISO recipe

Soybeans are harvested in Autumn and Miso is made in mid-Winter (Jan-Feb in Japan), and then left to ferment for at least nine months before eating. Miso is made from three ingredients: malted rice or barley, soybeans and salt. The key to making good miso is using a good quality rice malt (koji), getting absolutely all the air out when putting the miso into the container, and keeping it in a really cool spot (under-house storage, or refrigerator) to prevent mold.

Koji starter (malted rice) is usually made by fermenting cooked rice for 48 hours with aspergillus oryzae, a fungus, also called koji-kabi, literally koji-mold. But this is too hard, so I buy nama-koji online in Japan from Tomizawa-shoten. Nama-koji is rice that has already been fermented with the koji mold, so it is ready to use.

Recipe (makes approx. 4-5kg miso)

1 kg soybeans

1kg fresh rice malt (nama-koji)

450-500g salt

Also, reserve 100 – 200 ml of the water used to cook soybeans (‘nijiru)

rice malt, soybeans, salt


1. Soak soybeans in 3 times the volume of water, for 17 hours.

2. Cook soybeans for 20 minutes in a pressure cooker, or boil for 2 hours or until soft.

3. Drain, but reserve the liquid (called ‘nijiru’).

reserved liquid, cooked soybeans


4. Crush soybeans, with sterilized hands, potato masher, or food processor.

crushing soybeans (sterilize hands with alcohol)

5. Wash hands. Sterilize hands with alcohol (again). Mix salt with rice malt (koji) by rubbing between hands. Mix well.
6. Add slightly cooled crushed beans a little at a time and mix very well.
7. Add a little of the reserved liquid (nijiru) to get a smooth paste.
8. Grab handfulls of miso and make into balls.

make miso into balls

9. Sterilize a 10 litre container with alcohol. Put miso into the container by slamming each ball in one at a time. Push miso down each time to get ALL air out. If any air is left inside the miso it will allow mold in. When all the miso is pressed into the container, push down on the top of miso with palm of hand to make perfectly flat and air-free.

press down to get all air out


press a bit more, press flat


press edges down neatly


Posted by on February 2, 2012 in Uncategorized