Amarume Winter Onion

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Amarume Winter Onion

The Amarume winter onion belongs to the Allium fistulosum species and is a local variety. It is one of the most popular and most varied vegetables in Japan, like daikon and turnips, but most of the varieties are now dying out. Both the cultivation methods and this type of winter onion have a long history in the Amarume area (part of the city of Sendai). Because the water table is very near the surface, the water level in the subsoil hereabouts has always been quite high, preventing normal vertical cultivation of winter onion. So Nagai Hajime, an agronomist from Iwakiri, Sendai, created a special technique which involved bending the winter onions during their growth and thus forcing them up and out of the soil. The growing cycle begins in September, when the seeds are sown in a seed-bed and they are transplanted to the field in April. Between August and September, according to the Yatoi technique, the winter onions are removed from the ground and replaced at an angle of 30° to the surface. After 1-3 months the underground part turns white, soft and sweet. The winter onion bends to reach the sunlight and thus assumes its typical arched shape. In November the harvest begins and lasts until January. The stress placed on the winter onions during cultivation influences their flavour making it more piquant and aromatic. In the heat, they become sweet, soft, and flavoursome. In the month of June when the rainy season begins, each producer gathers the seeds from his own production of winter onions. During the summer the seeds are dried, washed and selected so that only the best are preserved. The Amarume winter onion can only be grown in the area of this name, because otherwise it does not acquire its special features. Since 1965, due to urbanization of the countryside and the objective cultivation difficulties, production has been falling dramatically. The original production area is the hamlet of Iwakiri in the city of Sendai though the technique is also widely used in other areas around Sendai (Aoba, Miyagino, Wakabayashi, Tashiro).

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Territory

StateJapan
Region

Tohoku