The Incredibly Sticky and Nutritious Tamba Japanese Yam

Tamba Sasayama’s Climate is Perfect for its Specialty – The Japanese Yam

Famous for being used in grated yam soup and as a topping for boiled barley and rice is the Tamba Japanese Yam. It is said that farming of this yam started in Tamba Sasayama during the early Edo Period (1603-1868). At that time, the farmers of the Sasayama clan farmed rice and paid it as tribute to the feudal lord but in the years that the rice crops were poor, the yams became a staple for the people. The climate of Sasayama is perfect for growing these yams. The rising temperatures of the summer, the moderate amount of rainfall, the decrease in temperature in autumn and winter and the thick fog of the valley make for great conditions for these delicious Japanese yams.

The Japanese yam is also known by another name; the Oyakoko (filial piety) yam. Different from other potatoes, the Japanese yam is the only potato that grows under the seed of the potato plant. It is also known as the Oya wo katsugu (carrying parents) yam. For this reason, it has become a popular ingredient in dishes for New Year’s and wedding celebrations.

Try Eating Sasayama’s Famous Grated Yam Soup

The Japanese yam is composed of plant proteins and digestive enzymes so even if it is eaten raw, you won’t feel any indigestion. It is recommended to be eaten as an energy pick-me-up, an aid to fight exhaustion and to combat high blood pressure. A peeled yam is pure white and smooth and when grated produces a stickiness like no other. This stickiness is well thought of by proprietors of Japanese sweets and is used in the making of these sweets.

Grated yam soup is a standard dish for locals. When eaten over rice, the taste is full of nostalgia. Other exquisite dishes are the Mugi to Meshi Tororo, with it’s soup stock, eggs, spices and melted yam, Sticky Rice, and the Japanese Yam and Rice, where the yams are cooked along with chicken. They may also be pickled with vinegar, used in Okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), fried to make tempura, used to make Karukan (steamed sweet bun) or used as an ingredient in many other unique dishes.