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Satoyama Near Lake Biwa with Couchsurfers

Recently, I receive a lot of couchsurfing requests, a few times a week, which is rather surprising considering the fact that I live in Shiga Prefecture. Shiga Prefecture isn’t a popular travel destination among most foreign tourists or it isn’t even known despite the fact that it is next to Kyoto.

 

Only thing Shiga is famous for is Lake Biwa which is the biggest lake in Japan, and even that itself isn’t an enough magnet to draw people.

 

However, a word Satoyama seems to be catching attentions of many currently and some people associate lake Biwa with Satoyama because of BBC documentary film called Satoyama: Japan’s Secret WaterGarden.

 

There are a lot of Satoyamas in Shiga prefecture since there are many rivers flowing to lake Biwa and Satoyamas are usually located at the upperstream of these rivers near mountains. Hino where I live is located at the upperstream of Hino river, one of these rivers.

 

So, as well as being the birthplace of Omi-Hino-merchants, Hino is special for being the land of Satoyama: There are mountains which belong to Suzuka mountain range in the eastern part and many rice paddies in the western part using water from Hino river.

 

Because I say in my profile that people can experience Satoyama life here, many couchsurfers show interests.

satoyamacycling with Ausrian family

Christine and her family from Austria is one of them. They are interested in natural child rearing and sustainable ways of living. They stayed with us last Thursday to Saturday, and we had great times together.

We went cycling along rice fields, visiting a shrine and a river along the way. We had a lot of things in common and talked about educational systems, agricultural systems and many other things. I was surprised to hear that over 20% of farmers are organic farmers in Austria, and as the nation, they succeeded in banning GM products and Monsanto products all together.

dinner with Ausrian family

First night, we had Ikigai Dinner; Natto, fermented brown rice, light fried Tempura, cold eggplants, cucumber sticks with miso, salad, and cold tofu.

cleaning the entrance

My son spoke a lot of English this time. We have had many couchsurfers before, too, but he hadn’t been able to utter many words then. It looks like finally it has come to the point where all the inputs he had over the years began coming out. The kids played together a lot discovering many new things since both of them had to communicate in a foreign language. It must have been a great experience for them.

palatschinken

On the second night, they prepared an Austrian crepe dish called Palatschinken for us, and my son was more than happy to try it. You could put jam or ice cream inside, and it was so delicious.

in front of the entrance

Next time, we would like to visit them in Austria.

Satoyama Cycling Can Be A New Form of Green Tourism In Hino

Why Should Foreign Tourists Visit Shiga Instead of Visiting Tokyo or Kyoto?

Visiting the Land of Omi-merchants Part 2: Hino

Visiting the Land of Omi-merchants part 3: Satoyama Cycling in Hino

Visiting the Land of Omi-merchants part 4: Satoyama Experience

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Natto Recipes for Vegans

Fermented Soybeans called Natto have so many benefits including weight loss, beautifying your skin, purifying your blood, strengthening your bones, helping your digestion, and strengthening your muscles. Natto is a great substitute for meat, so it is a must food to have, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan.

 

Having said that, not all Natto dishes are vegan. They are usually vegetarian but sometimes you need to be careful if you don’t eat any fish or eggs.

納豆冷やし中華Natto on cold ramen that I introduced isn’t vegan, for example, because ramen noodles contain eggs.

 

Alternatives to cold ramen, you can have Udon or Somen which are made from just wheat.

そうめんとろろ納豆2This is whole wheat Somen and you can eat it with Tororo Okra Natto.

Natto Recipes for Ikigai Diet Part3: Tororo Natto

Natto Recipes for Ikigai Diet Part4: Okra Natto

そうめんとろろ納豆

You can pour Tororo Okra Natto on Somen.

 

Make sure that you make Dashijiru, the soup, with Konbu and soy sauce. A lot of Dashijiru is made from dried bonito.

納豆カレー

When you make Natto curry, too, a lot of the curry mix sold at the stores include some animal products, so you want to make your own curry spice by adding curry powder and flour.

 

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Slow Food Nations Looks so Cool

A friend of mine is attending an event called Slow Food Nations held in Denver Colorado this weekend.

 

It is held from July 13th to 15th, if you live near Denver I highly recommend this festival, it looks absolutely fantastic.

 

https://slowfoodnations.org/festival-2018/

 

Actually, there are a lot of similarities between Slow Food and Ikigai Diet and I even mentioned Slow Food movement in Chapter 7 of my book IKIGAI DIET. The chapter title is Kyodo Ryori Is the Authentic Washoku. Kyodo Ryori means local cuisine and we value Kyodo Ryori very much in Ikigai Diet since we operate based on a concept called Shindofuji which suggests that we should eat local and seasonal food.

 

So I would like to talk about Kyodo Ryori and Slow Food today.

 

Are you not going to talk about what happened to your friend’s experiment with making Natto without putting rice straw or mint or anything?

何もつけない納豆

Oh, yes, I am going to talk about it, too. It worked. She said that the soybeans turned Natto even though she didn’t put anything else other than soybeans.

 

That proves the fact that Natto germs exist in soybeans, too, and you can make Natto just from soybeans, without adding anything. That is so simple isn’t it.

 

Please try making one to see if it works. Then I would like you to report back to me if you are successful; I want to know more cases.

 

Slow Food Movement is a movement led by an organization called Slow Food that promotes local food and traditional cooking. It began in Italy in 1986 and has since spread worldwide. As an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisines and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

 

In this festival held in Denver, they are discussing the future of farming, and you can tell that they care about how the food is produced as much as how it is prepared. In Ikigai Diet, too, we regard farming is part of our dietary culture, and we support sustainable ways of producing food such as organic farming, natural farming, Satoyama based local farming, and small-scale farming.

 

In Hino Town where I live, a festival to promote Kyodo Ryori is held once a year, and this year, they had a tasting event for many of the local cuisines from our town.

食まつり3

We often serve Kyodo Ryori at our school lunch, too.

食まつり6

From this year we began serving rice which is grown in Hino, as well. Until last year, they were serving bread, just like most schools in Japan, so it is a big progress.

からしふと白和え

These are my two favourite Kyodo Ryori from Shiga,  Karashifu and Shiraae.

 

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How to Make Natto without Adding Natto Germs

If you want to learn how to make Natto without using rice straw or mint, just with soybeans, this is the site you are looking for.

 

Fermented Soybeans called Natto have so many benefits including weight loss, beautifying your skin, purifying your blood, strengthening your bones, helping your digestion, and strengthening your muscles. Natto is a great substitute for meat, so it is a must food to have, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan.

 

Nevertheless, it is difficult to obtain Natto if you don’t live in Japan and even if you live in Japan, I don’t recommend that you buy Natto from the stores.

 

Why?

 

Read this post Two Reasons Why You Want to Make Your Own Natto Fermented Soybeans

 

You want to make your own Natto.

 

How to make Natto?

 

The traditional way is using rice straw to extract Natto germs. I showed you how to do it in this post How to Make Natto: The Natural Way

 

However, for some of you, it may not be easy to get hold of rice straw.

 

So I introduced another way, that is to use mint. Mint can be obtained in most places. I put that information here How to Make Natto from Mint

 

The reason why you can make Natto from mint is that Natto germs are found in most wild plants. So you can use any other plants, too.

 

When I shared my experience of making Natto using mint in my Japanese blog, someone said that soybeans should contain Natto germs as well, if they are found in most wild plants, provided that soybeans are grown organically.

 

So, I decided to give it a try. If you want to know what happened, stick around.

縁側着物 My name is Sachiaki Takamiya and I am the author of IKIGAI DIET: The Secret of Japanese Diet to Health and Longevity. I wrote this book based on the diet and the lifestyle of young naturally conscious Japanese people because I think they are the healthiest people in the country with the longest life expectancy: They are the latest successors of Japanese natural medicine and philosophies, where many of the health related practices such as the macrobiotic diet, Shiatsu, and Aikodo are all based on.

 

I also live in Satoyama near Like Biwa where fermentation is practiced regularly.

 

I went through the same steps I introduced in How to Make Natto: The Natural Way, except the part where I mixed rice straw sticks into the beans. I didn’t put anything.

 

And the result is,

何もつけない納豆

the beans turned Natto just like the times when I used rice straw or mint.

 

Mind you, I have been using this same container to make Natto, so there was high possibility that Natto germs already existed in the container itself.

 

So, I asked a friend who had never made Natto to do it.

 

Then what happened?

 

Well, that is something I will share in the next post.

 

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How to Make Natto from Mint

If you want to learn how to make Natto from mint, this is exactly the site you are looking for.

 

I told you the way to make Natto, fermented soybeans, from rice straw, but if you can’t get hold of rice straw, what can you do? Rice isn’t grown everywhere, and even if it is in your area, you still have to ask farmers to give straws to you, which can be troublesome.

 

What if you can obtain Natto germs from mint which is grown in your garden? Mint is grown everywhere and it is easy to grow it in your garden, too.

 

Well, it is possible, and I am going to tell you how today. So stick around.

納豆を食べる

My name is Sachiaki Takamiya and I am the author of IKIGAI DIET: The Secret of Japanese Diet to Health and Longevity. I wrote this book based on the diet and the lifestyle of young naturally conscious Japanese people because I think they are the healthiest people in the country with the longest life expectancy: They are the latest successors of Japanese natural medicine and philosophies, where many of the health related practices such as the macrobiotic diet, Shiatsu, and Aikodo are all based on.

 

I also live in Satoyama near Like Biwa where fermentation is practiced regularly.

 

畑のミント

Apparently, Natto germs are found in most wild plants, not only rice. This means you can extract Natto germs from wheat, mint, or any other plants. In my garden, there happened to be a lot of mint; this is wild mint, I am not growing it. So I decided to give it a try.

ミント収穫You just cut some mint, and wash it well.

お湯沸騰

You boil water to cleanse mint just like you did it for rice straw.

煮沸

Then you put the mint in boiling water for about 1 minute. With 100 degree centigrade water, most germs on the mint die except the Natto germ. This is an important step to separate Natto germ from other germs that you don’t need.

煮沸後

You want to mix it with steamed soybeans, Regarding how to soak and steam soybeans, please look at How to Make Natto: The Natural Way.

大豆にミント

You stick mint into the beans. Then you want to cover the beans and mint with a cling film to keep the moisture inside. This time mint sticks don’t make holes in the cling film, you need to make holes yourself by a pin or a fork.

発酵させる

Finally, you ferment it in the yogurt maker just like you did with rice straw. Again, please refer to How to Make Natto: The Natural Way for details.

できあがり (1)

24 hours later it becomes like that.

ネバネバ

When you mix the beans, they get sticky and you know they became Natto.

 

After making one, I realized that it was better to cut the leaves and you only put the stalks into the beans.

 

That’s it. That is how to make Natto from mint. The steps are the same as making Natto from rice straw, you just replace rice straw with mint stalks.

 

Click here to get a free newsletter Zen and a Way of sustainable prosperity: Balance, financial success, and sustainability with the secrets of the Japanese Omi-merchants.

 

 

 

How to Make Natto: The Natural Way

If you want to learn how to make Natto the natural way, this is exactly the site you are looking for. I have seen some other sites on the topic, but the kind of beans they use or the way they get Natto germs aren’t completely natural, and if you want to gain Natto’s health benefits fully, stick around.

自転車でダーナへ

My name is Sachiaki Takamiya and I am the author of IKIGAI DIET: The Secret of Japanese Diet to Health and Longevity. I wrote this book based on the diet and the lifestyle of young naturally conscious Japanese people because I think they are the healthiest people in the country with the longest life expectancy: They are the latest successors of Japanese natural medicine and philosophies, where many of the health related practices such as the macrobiotic diet, Shiatsu, and Aikodo are all based on.

 

I also live in Satoyama which means the Japanese countryside where fermentation is practiced regularly.

 

I make Natto twice a week now and I have 100% success rate of making it.

 

Today, I will share with you the basic way of making Natto using rice straw.

 

Things You Need to Make Natto

1, Rice straw from an organic farmer in you region. You want to get local rice straw because that contains local Natto germs.

2, Organic soybeans from a local farmer.

3, A pressure cooker

4, A yogurt maker

5, Two lids to put in the pressure cooker

6, Cotton gauze fabric

7, Cling film

8, Three small cups to put in the pressure cooker

 

How to Soak Soybeans

The first step is to soak soybeans. This step is vital and how long you soak them determines the degree of fermentation.

soaking beans

The idea is you soak the beans until you have a lot of this white foam on the surface. I usually soak the beans for 24 hours, but it varies depending on the temperature, so wait until you see a lot of foam on the surface. Make sure you pour a lot of water: 3 times as much as the beans.

 

How to Steam the Soybeans

When the beans are soaked, the next step is to steam them. You need a pressure cooker for it.

茶碗を鍋へ

First, you put some small cups in the pressure cooker. Use the cups that you can pour hot water on them.

茶碗の上に蓋

Next, you put a lid on the cups.

布を置く

After that, you put a cotton gauze cloth on the lid.

布の上に大豆

Then you put the beans on it.

布をくるむ

You wrap the beans with the cloth.

布に水をかける

And you pour water over it.  Make sure to wet all over the cloth and beans. You want to put enough water to cover the cups at the bottom.

布に水をかけた後

Like that.

布に蓋をする

Then you put another lid on the cloth.

圧力鍋の蓋をする

Next, you close the lid of the pressure cooker.

圧を高圧に設定

Set the pressure to high.

強火

You turn the gas on. You cook it with high flame until the pressure comes on.

圧がかかったら

When the pressure comes on,

弱火

you turn down the gas to low flame.

弱火20分

You set the timer to 20 minutes. Another word, you pressure steam the beans with low flame for 20 minutes.

火を消して15分

20 minutes later, you turn the gas off and leave it for another 15 minutes.

 

How to Prepare the Straw to Make Natto

Meantime, you want to prepare rice straw. You can do it while you are steaming the beans or beforehand.

藁の束 (2)

These are some rice straws. You want to wash them well.

藁納豆1

Then you put them in boiling water for about 1 minute. With 100 degree centigrade water, most germs on the straws die except the Natto germ. This is an important step to separate Natto germ from other germs that you don’t need.

稲わらスティック

After cleansing the straws, you cut them into a few short sticks.

 

How to Mix the Steamed Beans with the Straw Sticks

蓋を開ける

You open the lid of the pressure cooker.

豆の柔らかさをチェック

You pick a bean to check whether beans are ready to be fermented or not. If you can squash it easily with your thumb and index finger, it is done. You want to make sure the beans are soft enough. If they are not soft enough, you need to steam them a little longer.

稲わらスティックを大豆に刺す

Next, you put the steamed soybeans into the container for the yogurt maker, and stick some straw sticks into the beans.

ラップをかける

You apply a cling film over them to keep the moisture inside. You press it over the straw sticks, which will automatically create some holes. You will need those holes to let some oxygen come in.

容器の蓋を閉める

Then you close the lid.

 

How to Ferment the Soybeans in the Yogurt maker

ヨーグルトメーカーに入れる

Next, you put the container into the yogurt maker.

キッチンペイパーをかぶせる

You cover the yogurt maker with a paper towel.

キッチンペイパーの上から蓋をする

And put the lid on. You don’t want to close the lid completely to let some air come in.

45度

You set the temperature to 45 degrees centigrade(113 degrees fahrenheit),

24時間

and set the timer to 24 hours. Then you turn the switch on.

できあがり

24 hours later, you open the yogurt maker and this is how it looks inside.

ラップを取る

You take off the cling film and you can see the white color on the beans. It means they are fermented.

藁も取ってかきまぜる

You take out the straw sticks and mix the beans, they get sticky and now you can tell that the beans turned Natto.

 

Usually people say you need to put the container with the Natto in the refrigerator for another 24 hours to complete the process, but that is not necessary. You can eat Natto at this point. You can keep the Natto in the refridgrator to eat it a little by little though. If you keep it outside the fridge, it is too warm so that the fermentation process will continue which you want to avoid. When you want to keep Natto in the fridge, have the cling film on to keep the moisture.

 

Anyway, that is it. This is how to make Natto the natural way. There are more primitive ways to ferment the beans, and I have tried them, too, but I like the method of using a yogurt maker the best because you can keep the same temperature throughout the fermentation process and you have much higher success rate of making Natto. If you want to make Natto regularly, you want this level of success rate.

 

Now, you can use this Natto to make dishes that I have introduced the recipes for and fully gain Natto’s health benefits.

 

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Two Reasons Why You Want to Make Your Own Natto Fermented Soybeans

Two Reasons Why You Want to Make Your Own Natto Fermented Soybeans

The reason why my Natto is bigger than usual Natto is that I make my own Natto. I don’t buy Natto from the stores, I make Natto by myself, and the type of soybeans I use to make Natto is the regular size, not small size beans which are specifically made for Natto. These small size beans are not grown a lot in the Kansai region where I live because Kansai people don’t eat much Natto. Since I would like to use local organic soybeans and only the regular size beans are available around here, I happen to use them.

 

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Why do I want to make my own Natto?

 

Because a lot of Nattos sold at stores aren’t good, or at least, they don’t have the same effect as homemade Natto does.

 

There are two reasons for it.

 

The first reason is that many of the soybeans they use are imported from the United States or Canada, and there is a slight possibility that genetically modified soybeans are included. They say that they use only GM-free soybeans but the same trucks are used to carry soybeans whether they are GM soybeans or GM-free soybeans. Therefore they can get mixed up.

 

Since we don’t produce any GM soybeans in Japan, if you buy Natto using soybeans grown in Japan, you should be safe. However, most of them are not organic, and ones that are organic are imported, so we still have this dilemma.

 

The second reason is the bacteria they use to ferment beans. To make Natto, you need Bacillus subtilis. It is also called Natto germ, and when Natto is commercially mass-produced, they use the same kind of Natto germ, and often germs are controlled, and they lose the power they had in their natural state.

 

There are all kinds of Natto germs, and they are different from regions to regions. It is better to use local germs, but commercially produced Nattos don’t use germs according to your region.

 

Therefore, it isn’t the question of where to buy Natto; it is the question of whether to buy Natto or not, and the answer is no.

 

When you make Natto at home, you can choose soybeans. I buy soybeans from an organic farmer I know locally.

 

You can choose your Natto germs, too. You can find Natto germs in all kinds of plants grown in your area. I use rice straws I get from local organic farmers, or mint from my garden.

 

Now the question is how to make Natto?

 

So, in the next posts, I will tell you different ways of making Natto.