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.
This national fruit is treasured among the Japanese as it is featured in many of Japan’s well-known haikus. For instance, the poet Shiki Masaoka described biting into a persimmon in contrast to the sound of bells from the famous Buddhist temple in Nara during autumn.
Persimmon trees have been around Japan for thousands of years and are recognised for their 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, 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 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.
On the other hand, the Hoshigaki, or dried persimmons, 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, smoothen the outside of the Hachiya persimmons to prevent wrinkles, and ultimately form moisture and mould. 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 release any last air bubbles to reduce the likelihood of mould. They are chewy and mildly sweet and commonly enjoyed with green tea.
Persimmon Sweet Potato Soup Recipe
What better way to ease into the fall mood than with a good ‘ole 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.
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.
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.
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. Save more than 40% with this autumn treat, which would leave you recharged and your skin baby soft.