Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts

投稿日:2019年1月25日 更新日:

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When it comes to Kawagoe City, it’s got to be sweet potatoes.
There are many shop that offer sweet potato dishes within the city.

Incidentally, why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes"?

This time we will unravel the history of the rise in prosperity of the cultivation and use of sweet potatoes in Kawagoe.

Japanese

なぜ“川越=さつまいも”?栗よりうまい川越いもの歴史事情

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Characteristics of Sweet Potatoes or "Kawagoe Imo (Potatoes)” Produced in the Kawagoe Area

Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts

Sweet potatoes produced in the Kawagoe area (Kawagoe City’s Fukuhara, Daito and Takashina wards, Tokorozawa City, Sayama City, Niiza City and Miyoshi) are called "Kawagoe Imo (Kawagoe potatoes)".

Sweet potatoes began to prosper in Japan during the Edo era.
At that time, the term "Kawagoe potatoes" was said to have referred to sweet potatoes produced in the Musashino-daichi area and adjacent villages of the former Kawagoe Han (domain).

Sweet Potato Varieties Produced in Kawagoe

Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts

The major varieties of sweet potatoes cultivated in Kawagoe are as follows:

Beni-azuma A popular sweet potato variety in the Kanto region.
They have a purplish dark red skin with mealy yellow flesh.
When heated, their texture is in between soft and flakey, and moist and sticky.
Koukei No.14 These potatoes preserve well and are excellent for processing.
They have slightly thick reddish skin with mealy cream colored flesh.
They have a high sugar content and when heated, they become very soft and sweet.
Quick-sweet A relatively new variety registered in 2005.
They look like Beni-azuma but when you cut them open, white milk seeps out of the rings of their flesh.
Just by heating them in the microwave, you can enjoy a sweetness that is comparable to that of stone roasted sweet potatoes.
Beni-masari The have red skin like satsumaimo (sweet potatoes) with pale yellow flesh on the inside.
They become very moist and sticky when steamed, and have the characteristic of being sweeter than the Koukei No.14
Beni-aka The have red skin like satsumaimo (sweet potatoes) with pale yellow flesh on the inside.
They become very moist and sticky when steamed, and have the characteristic of being sweeter than the Koukei No.14

They are harvested from September to November, and peak in October.

The history of Kawagoe Imo began in Tokorozawa

Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts

The cultivation of Kawagoe Imo began in 1751.
Konyo Aoki, also known as "Master Sweet Potato" established and spread the cultivation method, and 16 years later it took off.

The area of the Kawagoe region where sweet potato cultivation first began was in present day Minamigai, Tokorozawa City.

At that time, Yauemon Yoshida, an expert in the area, ordered 200 seed potatoes from Shitsuimura Kazusano-kuni (present day Ichihara-shi Shizu in Chiba Prefecture), a town known for superior sweet potato cultivation, and began growing sweet potatoes.

The Yoshida family still has written records from that time regarding this in the "Yoshida family records" which were designated a cultural asset of Tokorozawa city.
In the Yoshida Family garden, the “Kawagoe Imo Land of First Harvest” was erected.

The phrase "Kawagoe = sweet potato" began from the yaki-imo (baked sweet potato) boom of Edo.

Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts

The image of "Kawagoe = sweet potato" was established in the late 1700s during the Kanei period.

At that time, in the town of Edo, baked sweet potatoes became a big trend as a fast food for ordinary people.
In response to their popularity, nearby villages started cultivating sweet potatoes thinking "this is our chance!"
Among the sweet potatoes produced, it is said that the Kawagoe Imo in particular had an exceedingly high quality and was treated like a top quality product.

Records from the Tenpou era (1830 to 1844), show that "the Kawagoe area for sweet potato production" was represented in the "Specialties of Various Countries Ranking", and that “genuine” Kawagoe Imo were highly valued.
This is why "Kawagoe = sweet potatoes".

The birth of the phrase “九里よりうまい十三里”

Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts

Yaki-imo shops in Edo wrote signs that said “九里よりうまい十三里”.

In Japanese 里, pronounced “ri” is an old unit of measurement equivalent to approx. 3.927 km or 2.44 miles. 十三 pronounced “juusan” means 13, and 十三里 “juusan-ri” is “13 x ri” which was the distance from Kawagoe to Edo, and in this case refers to Kawagoe Imo. 九 is pronounced “kyu” or “ku” and means 9. So 九里 “kyu-ri” or “ku-ri” is “9 x ri”.

より pronounced “yori” in Japanese means “more than”, but it could also be a homonym for the number 4 pronounced “yo” and the unit of measurement “ri”, making “4 x ri”.

So, 九里より may mean “9 x ri” + “4 x ri” = “13 x ri” which is again the distance from Kawagoe to Edo, and represents Kawagoe Imo.
Next is うまい, pronounced “umai” which means “delicious”, so “A よりうまい B” means “B is more delicious than A”.

Lastly, 九里 “ku-ri” in Japanese is also a homonym for the different kanji 栗 “kuri” which means chestnut.

Putting it all together, it means that “Kawagoe Imo are more delicious than Chestnuts”

※However, there are various theories.

This sweet potato forum is cute! The Kawagoe City mascot “Tokimo”

"TokiMO", the symbol of Kawagoe, is a mascot born from the “TOKI-no-kane (Bell Tower)” and Kawagoe’s specialty product sweet potatoes, or iMO. Hence the name TOKIMO.
It is a Beni-aka sweet potato with the Toki-no-kane Bell Tower on its head.

Tokimo’s Profile

Birthday 13th of October (Sweet potato day)
Special skills Making potato stamps with its own body. Increasing its number of friends one after another. There is another Japanese pun here 芋づる式, means “one after another” but the kanji 芋 also means potato!.
Hobbies Taking exams, working in the fields
Favorite food Baked sweet potatoes, B class gourmet
Favorite quote “九里よりうまい十三里”, “A friend of a friend is everyone’s friend”
Favorite motto Time is money(時は鐘鳴り)

Depending on the events and goods, it makes appearances in various outfits.

Depending on the events and goods, it makes appearances in various outfits.

Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts

In some sweet potato farms in Kawagoe city, you can have a potato digging experience.
The season is from September to around the beginning of November.
Let’s all enjoy it!

Musashi-en Direct sale · home delivery Map Tobu Tojo Line "Fujimino Station" West Exit via the bus that goes from "Kamitomi · Central Hospital · Miyoshi Yakuba" ~
Tsurusei Station West Exit Fork Line”. A 1 minute walk from the “Kakuya" stop.
Nakagawa noen Direct sale · home delivery Map JR · Tobu Tojo Line "Kawagoe Station"
west exit, via the Seibu Bus
"Nakadaibashi" or "Imafukudai".
A 2 minute walk from the "Imfuku Musashino" stop.
Sakamoto noen Direct sale · home delivery and potato digging Map Seibu Shinjuku Line "Honkawagoe Station", JR · Tobu Tojo Line, "Kawagoe station" West Exit via the Seibubus headed towards "Imafuku Nakadai". A 3 minute walk the Imafuku Musashino stop.
Arahata noen Direct sale · home delivery and potato digging Map Seibu Shinjuku line "Minami Otsuka station" South exit. A 19 minute walk.
Arahata-en Direct sale · home delivery and potato digging Map Seibu Shinjuku line "Minami Otsuka station" South exit. An 18 minute walk.

Kawagoe Imo & Sweets made with Kawagoe Imo

Tomi-no-Kawagoe Imo, Miyoshi-cho Saitama Prefecture


Check it out on Rakuten (the taxes are returned to Miyoshi-cho)

The Kawagoe Imo Promotion Association was awarded the Emperor's Cup at the “Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 54th Festival Rural Community Development Division”

Beni-azuma Kawagoe Imo


Check them out on Rakuten

A sweet potato variety that goes well with any dish.

Kawagoe Imo Sweet Potato & Assorted Bite-Sized Rusks


Check it out on Rakuten

An assortment of "Kawagoe Imo" harvested from Hayakawa-en in Miyoshi-cho and round and easy to eat (bit-size) "Hitokuchi Rusks" (winner of the Prestigious President’s awards at the Japanese National Confectionary Expo).

Kawagoe Imo Petit Cake

Why does "Kawagoe = Sweet Potatoes" The history of Sweet Potatoes from Kawagoe that Taste Better than Chestnuts
Check it out on Rakuten

A small cake that is kneaded with Kawagoe Imo.
A handy souvenir that is great for the workplace!

Sweet potato foods that can be enjoyed in Kawagoe City are introduced in the article below!

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