Persimmons: The National Fruit of Japan

By Vivian Kek in Food on 10 October, 2019

Persimmons: The National Fruit of Japan

Autumn calls for the harvest of the national fruit of Japan, known as kaki, or persimmons. This bright orange fruit is undoubtedly Japan’s symbol of autumn, as they are sold in supermarkets as soon as they are reaped. Dried persimmons are also hung from the windows as decorations to indicate the fall season.

dried persimmons
Dried persimmons hanging from the window
Source: Root Simple

This national fruit is treasured among the Japanese as it is featured in a lot of Japan’s well-known haikus. For instance, the poet Shiki Masaoka described the sensation of biting into a persimmon in contrast to the sound of bells from the famous Buddhist temple in Nara during autumn.

shiki masaoka
Shiki Masaoka
Source: Alchetron

Persimmon trees have been around Japan for thousands of years and are recognised for its plethora of uses. Their leaves are dried and made into tea or wrappers for a traditional type of sushi called kaki-no-ha.

In addition, their hard lumber is used to make furniture and decorative items, while the brown liquid extracted from their unripe fruit is used as a wood stain as well as for medicinal purposes.

Above all, the fruit itself is a tasty snack packed with vitamins A and C, which carry health benefits, especially for the skin. They can brighten the skin and restore its moisture, combat ageing skin, curb excess oils, and unclog the pores. It is no wonder that persimmons emerge as the national fruit of Japan.

Types of Japanese Persimmons

To date, there are over 1,000 varieties of kaki. These are divided into three main types: sweet (amagaki), tannic (shibugaki), and dried (hoshigaki).

The amagaki has over 20 types, but the most popular ones are fuyu and jiro. They are usually eaten when crisp and not entirely ripe.

the national fruit of japan
Fuyu persimmons
Source: Farm to Table

The shibugaki is the complete opposite—its mouth-puckering taste requires them to be treated or eaten fully ripe. To remove this bitter substance known as kakishibu, this tannic fruit must be dried or treated with alcohol.

The hoshigaki, or dried persimmons on the other hand, undergo a complicated process before they are ready. They are derived from hachiya persimmons, which cannot be eaten raw until they are soft and almost rotting. They are peeled, air-dried, and hand-massaged for three to five weeks.

This gentle massage is necessary to break down the hard pulp, and smoothen the outside of the hachiya persimmons to prevent wrinkles, and ultimately the formation of moisture and mold. It will also tap out air pockets and encourage crystalline, a natural sugar, to surface.

Afterwards, the hoshigaki is rolled with a pin to ensure even thickness and to release any last air bubbles, to reduce the likelihood of mold. They are chewy and mildly sweet, and commonly enjoyed with green tea.

hoshigaki persimmon fruit
Hoshigaki persimmons with crystalline
Source: Nuvo Magazine

Persimmon Sweet Potato Soup Recipe From stetted

What better way to ease into the fall mood than with a good ‘ol bowl of soup? This recipe incorporates two of autumn’s staples: fuyu persimmons and sweet potatoes.

Soften and Debitter Your Persimmons

If your fuyu persimmons are hard, you can put them in a paper bag with an apple to let them soften. Alternatively, you can pop them in the freezer overnight to let them thaw. The insides will scoop out easily with a spoon.

In order to remove the bitterness, you can use high-alcohol spirits such as shōchū or brandy. Wash and dry the fruit, dot the calyxes with alcohol-soaked cotton swabs, and seal the fruit in a plastic bag. Keep them in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks until they are sweet.

persimmon sweet potato soup recipe

However, if this delicious delicacy is not enough to get you in the autumn mood, what about pampering yourself with our Persimmons Aromatherapy Massage? At Ikeda Spa, you can relax and rejuvenate your senses with this massage combined with the calming scent of persimmons.

spa deals singapore - autumn BT single
Ikeda Spa Autumn Delight Series

Enjoy our Autumn Delight Series by soaking in Rice Hinoki Onsen for 30 minutes followed by a relaxing 90 minutes Persimmons Aromatherapy Massage at a promotional price of $201.16. Save more than 40% with this autumn treat, which would leave you recharged and your skin baby soft. Available at Bukit Timah branch only.

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