Ark of taste
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Mochi millet or Proso millet (Panicum italicum L.) is commonly called Kibi in Japan but locally called by different names, such as Mājin on Okinawa Island, Tsun or Hie on Miyako Island, and in Ishigaki Island, it is famously called Kin or Shin. This cereal plant is native to the Ryukyus / Lewchews community in current Okinawa, Japan. Its leaves are upright, and its ears are nodding with tillers. Weight per 1000 grains is about 5 grams, and the inner and outer glume colours of the Tsun lineage are all white, but overall, it appears to be light brown. Seeding is in early December, and the time of panicle emergence is around April, when the seasonal wind, which brings a good harvest, blows around the time of the ""bousyu"" (a grain season). Threshing was done by footsteps, followed by milling with a vertical stone mill. To prevent the grains from slipping and flying, dried leaves and water were added, and the grains were pounded, and seeds for the following year were stored as ears suspended from the ceiling.
Mājin Gohan is a type of traditional food provided by the local community and made from Uruchi rice mixed with Mājin or Tsun and cooked. However, Tsutsumtsu is Tsun wrapped in shell ginger leaves and then cooked into Mochi (rice cake). In Miyako, it is believed that the Tsun was brought in by taking a woman’s Mehen (underwear) and concealing it with the lower half of her body. On the island of Ogami in Miyako, the folklore says that “the woman sat on the dry Tsun without itzamu (women’s loincloth). Some of the Tsun adhered to her body, and she was able to steal it back.” Since the grain was stolen, there are no agricultural rituals related to Tsun, but when each household harvested its first crop, they offered Mājin rice, or nigiri-meshi, to the village god and the altar of their ancestors and handed them out to relatives and others to celebrate the harvest together.
When a large amount of Tsun was harvested, the Tsutsumtsu was made and enjoyed. It is also said that it was a labor-intensive crop susceptible to bird damage during cultivation, that it was not easy for busy families to cultivate it, and that rich families with more time to spare were the ones who made it. It is in very small quantities as they are only grown for seed connections, but the introduction of the Amakusa lineage of millet was driven by national policy, and all the millet grown in Okinawa Prefecture today is of the Amakusa lineage.
Through academic research undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s, local native varieties that had been cultivated in the prefecture up to that time were collected, and their preservation is being conducted by research institutes and other organizations. The return of these seeds and their cultivation for seed transfer are being carried out in small steps in various regions. With fewer people with cultivation skills and less need for local native varieties, there is a high concern that they will disappear in the absence of active conservation.

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Production area:Okinawa, Japan

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Cereals and flours

Nominated by:Rikuto Tamaki