朝廷も将軍も食べていた十六島のり採りに挑戦

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十六島のり

Uppurui Nori

San’in Good Thing Diary

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UPPURUI NORI

Harvesting Uppurui nori seaweed
once eaten by the Imperial Court and the Shogun

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With a waterproof raincoat, long boots with spikes, and a lifejacket, we are ready to head off to Uppurui nori fields!

“Don’t fall and injure yourself. Don’t go onto the neighboring island. Please observe those two warnings.” So begins Koji Watanabe, president of Watae. We are about to embark on an Uppurui nori picking experience. Incidentally, each producer is assigned an island “field” of Uppurui nori, and pays a fixed asset tax on the field.

You get hit by the waves, so a raincoat is essential. It is slippery underfoot, so you also need long boots with spikes attached. You mustn’t forget your life jacket either, just in case.

Everything is prepared and it is time for departure! After walking up and down a steep path which looks like an animal trail, gradually the view opens out and you are in front of the Sea of Japan. Tightly packed Uppurui nori blackens the rocks battered by the rough sea.

President Watanabe’s wife, Kimie, descends to the craggy rocks and picks the seaweed with ease. “You’ve come all the way here, so have a go at picking it,” the captain is told. He gives it a try, and does well.

“What happens if you don’t pick the seaweed, but just leave it?” asks the captain.
“The waves will carry it all away. If you just leave it, the roots become weak,” says Kazuhiro Yamane, a fisherman.

The harvesting season for Uppurui nori lasts around three months, from December to February. The pickers sometimes spend six hours a day working on the rocks. As the work is conducted out in the wild, finding people to take over is a problem.

Thinner than string, jet black with a purplish tint, a crispy texture, and the aroma of the sea, Uppurui nori, was once eaten by the Imperial Court and the Shogun.

When they return to the factory from the sea, warm local cuisine is waiting. The dish has a surprising name, “Norifude”, which means “seaweed brush.” It is food, yet it is called a brush. The form of the extremely thin strips of Uppurui nori held up between chopsticks looks exactly like a brush, hence its name. It is a soup dish with many ingredients including Uppurui nori, limpet, burdock, carrot, taro and konjac. It is seasoned simply, with sake and soy sauce, but the flavor and texture of the Uppurui nori in the limpet soup stock is pleasant, and it is a warming dish.

“Wow! This is tasty! The aroma is good,” says the captain who really enjoys it. He actually has three refills.

Norifude used to be served on festive occasions, such as at New Year or at weddings, but now, unfortunately, the opportunities and number of people who can make it are decreasing.

It is written in the Izumo no Kuni Fudoki (Chronicles of Ancient Izumo), from the Nara period, that in ancient times Uppurui nori was sent as a tribute to the Imperial Court. In the Edo period, it was sent as a gift to the Shogun, and it became known around the country.

So why are the Chinese characters of the name pronounced as “uppurui”? One theory is that in the age of the gods, the god Sukuna-hikona-no-mikoto picked the seaweed and shook it hard, an action called “uchifuru” in Japanese. This then became “uppurui.” Another theory is that it comes from the Korean word “urupiroi”, which means giant rock. There are many differing thoughts regarding the etymology, and the truth is not actually known. However, more important than the origin of the word are the customs and occasions which allow the jet black Uppurui nori, thinner than string with a shiny purplish tint, a crunchy texture, and the aroma of the sea, to continue to be eaten.

{ Access }

  • ●Watae Ltd. Processed marine products manufacturer

  • ●1851-28 Uppurui-cho, Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture

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UPPURUI NORI