Edible Wild plants in Japan
The other day when I was having a conversation with my colleagues bout the season changes, one of them said, soon it will be the season of picking Sansai (山菜). I know Sansai because I have had Sansai soba noodles and sometimes I purchased already-cooked product of Sansai from the supermarket. In fact, I didn’t know you can collect them just by going to the mountain. I was very curious about it so I did some research on the Internet. Sansai, the edible plants, wildly grow in mountains and fields, surprisingly has a long history of being vegetables for Japanese people. It is said the custom of Japanese people eating wild plants dates back to Jomon period. There are hundreds of species of wild plants can be harvested in different seasons.
Even though smart human has the skills of growing vegetables and there are abundant there on the market to feed ourselves, I don’t think the reason of having a wild plants picking trip is merely for putting food on the table. Consider that vegetables are now available all year round, we have somehow lost the sense of associating a vegetable to a specific season, no longer able to cherish the short period of time of enjoying the vegetables. On the other hand, the wild plants offer us warm sentiments of being with nature. I believe it is these sentiments that attract some people enjoy picking up wild plants in the mountains.
Here are some popular wild plants in Japan.