29 Nov 2006
Residents of the coastal town of Susami in Wakayama prefecture love the sea and the post office so much that the town once installed a mailbox on the ocean floor for scuba divers. Now, further evidence of this powerful sea/mail love comes in the form of "Surumail" -- edible postcards made from squid.
Produced by the Susami fishing cooperative, Surumail postcards consist of dried surume squid (Todarodes pacificus), the local seafood specialty. The squid jerky is flattened and vacuum-packed into the shape of a postcard, and an adhesive label is included for the postage, delivery address and a short message.
The fishing cooperative has sold between 4,000 and 5,000 cards each year since they went on sale in 2000. According to the Surumail website, which touts the postcards as a cutting-edge medium of communication for the 21st century, many big-name companies -- including Microsoft and IBM -- have inquired about the cards. Surumail may play an instrumental role in saving the Japanese economy, the website claims.
The postcards cost 320 yen (under $3) each and are available at the Susami post office and JR Susami station, as well as through the Susami fishing cooperative. You can also order the postcards online, but it is unclear whether they ship outside Japan.
It would be great to send one of these from Susami's underwater mailbox.
[Link: Surumail website]
24 Jul 2006
There is a mailbox located underwater off the coast of Susami in Wakayama prefecture.
The mailbox is not some old sunken relic, but an actual mail collection point officially recognized as part of Susami's postal system.
Each day the contents are collected from the box, which reportedly contains as many as 200 pieces of mail at the busiest times.
24 May 2006
With the arrival of Japan's rainy season, a mysterious type of green, glow-in-the-dark mushroom begins to sprout in Wakayama prefecture. The Mycena lux-coeli mushrooms, known locally as shii no tomobishi-dake (literally, "chinquapin glow mushrooms"), sprout from fallen chinquapin trees. As they grow, a chemical reaction involving luciferin (a light-emitting pigment contained within the mushrooms) occurs, causing them to glow a ghostly green.
The luminescent mushrooms were long believed to be indigenous solely to Tokyo's Hachijojima Island after they were discovered there in the early 1950s. In 1995, however, mycologists found the fungus growing wild in coastal areas of the southern Kii peninsula, as well as in Kyushu and other areas.
The mushrooms thrive in humid environments, popping up during Japan's rainy season, which typically lasts from the end of May to July. The caps can grow to as large as 2 cm (about 1 inch) in diameter, but because the mushrooms are prone to dehydration, they only have a few days to live once the rain stops.
[Source: Mainichi Shimbun]
06 Feb 2006
A daikon radish with a distinctly human shape is the talk of the town in Sasamicho, Wakayama prefecture.
Keiko Tanaka, 74, harvested the rather large daikon radish from her family farm. The daikon’s resemblance to a cross-legged woman surprised her as she unearthed it, prompting her to name it “Monroe-chan." She has since been showing it off around town.
“It has such a beautiful body line. I’m sure it will taste better than your average daikon,” says Tanaka.
How much steamy pleasure this daikon adds to the process of cooking oden remains to be seen.
[Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Yahoo! News]