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Newsletter: Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition

Delivered on December 24, 2014
Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 42] December 24, 2014

Delivery Of Japan's Seasonal Tradition [Issue 42]
December 24, 2014
Japanese Traditional Culture Promotion & Development Organization


1. Seasonal Taste:
Shogun's favourite:
Komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach)

2. News from JTCO:
New article released!
1) Tsurusaki-Odori festival

:: 1. Seasonal Taste

Shogun's favourite : Komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach)

With appearance of a mixture of pak-choi and spinach, Japanese mustard
spinach is available at supermarkets all year round and put on the
table very often in Japan. Its best season was originally winter and
it used to be called "冬菜 (Fuyu na, winter greens)" or "雪菜 (yuki na,
snow greens.)" It has been an essential green for New Year's Zouni
soup (soup with mochi or rice cake.)

It is said that Japanese mustard spinach originated in South Europe or
China. Although when it was brought into Japan is uncertain, similar
vegetables have been grown throughout Japan and have many other names
which differ from region to region. Japanese mustard spinach is rich
in carotene, vitamins like vitamin B1 and C, and minerals such as
calcium, phosphorus and iron. Especially, its content of calcium is
three times higher than spinach.

The kanji for Japanese mustard spinach is 小松菜. It apparently
derived from an area in Tokyo called Komatsugawa. Tokugawa Yoshimune,
the eighth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, stopped by the
Katori-jinja shrine during falconry one day and a clear soup was
served to him. The soup contained mochi and some greens. He really
loved the greens and asked a Shinto priest its name. As the priest had
no idea, he thought fast and said "it is named Komatsuna after
Komatsugawa." This made the greens to be called Komatsuna. Today,
there is a monument in memory of "a place related to Japanese
mustard spinach" at the Katori-jinja shrine. A confectionery store in
Edogawa ward near the shrine sells speciality sweets made with
Japanese mustard spinach. Komatsugawa area is the very hometown of
Japanese mustard spinach.

Japanese mustard spinach will sweeten and have a better taste after
being frosted during the coming cold season. The highly nutritious
Komatsuna is an essential and beneficial vegetable at the table of
Japanese people in winter.

Translation: Hitomi Kochi, reviewed by Marie Mine

:: 2. News from JTCO

New article released!:

1) Tsurusaki-Odori festival

The Tsurusaki-odori (Tsurusaki Dance) has two different versions of
dances, a graceful slow-tempo dance, 'Sarumaru-dayu' and a light
up-tempo dance, 'Saemon.' Nowadays, Sarumaru-dayu is more popular than
Saemon. However, Saemon has a longer history. Saemon is also called by
another name, 'Mitsu-byoshi,' since early times in the Tsurusaki area.

Each dancing team is made up of participants from local communities,
companies, and groups. They are dressed in brilliant gold and silver
costumes and gather near the festival tower followed up by their team

Translation by: Namiko Murakami, reviewed by Catherine Newman

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