Tōnuchin

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Takakibi or Morokoshi is a common name of sorghum in Japan, and locally it’s called Tōnuchin, but in Miyako Islands it’s called Upgyan, Fgyan, or Hougyan, and in Yaeyama Islands it’s called Yatapu or Fin (Sorghum bicolor L. / Moench), a native sorghum variety of Ryukyu growing in Okinawa, Japan, and produced by an indigenous group of Lewchews. The grain shape is elliptic to circular, and each ear weighs about 30 grams, and the weight per 1,000 grains will be about 20 grams. Its seed colour is yellowish-white, and the outer glume (protecting part) is purplish brown, elastic, and chewy.

It is believed to have originated in Africa, where it was cultivated before 3000 B.C. It was later introduced to Arabia, India, and China, where it was widely cultivated. Sorghum is mentioned as Toukimi in the "Konkokenshu," compiled by the Ryukyuan government in 1711. This indicates that sorghum has been cultivated actively since that time. Seeding is done in late October, and it used to be sown together with millet, barley, and naked wheat in the fields. Harvesting takes place between June and late July of the lunar calendar.

Huchagi (hukagi) is a traditional food made by mixing roughly ground Tōnuchin (upgyan / yatap) with mochi flour to make a flat round shape, boiling it, and covering it with cooked black azuki beans (fuchmami) seasoned with salt and Moochie is another traditional food prepared by local communities and made by mixing mochi flour and ground Tōnuchin (upgyan / yatap) into a
powder, wrapping it in shell ginger leaves, and steaming it. However, small-scale cultivation was done in the fields behind houses, around the fields’ perimeter, as a windbreaker for millet cultivation. Surrounding fields with Tōnuchin (upgyan / yatapu) prevented birds from entering the area.

On Tarama Island, communities were used as chopsticks for burning uchikabi (paper bills for ancestors) on the last day of the Bon Festival. In the past, Tōnuchin (upgyan / yatapu) was roughly powdered and mixed with glutinous rice flour, then steamed and eaten. In addition to the genetic invasion caused by the use of imported sorghum as a windbreak for vegetable cultivation and the increasing planting of sorghum coming from outside the prefecture, the planting of low-yielding native varieties is declining. The number of producers has been decreasing every year and is projected to further decrease in the future. It is feared that if there are no more producers, the traditional food culture may disappear along with it.

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Territory

StateJapan
Production area:Okinawa, Japan

Other info

Categories

Cereals and flours

Nominated by:Rikuto Tamaki