Japanese Yam from Tamba Sasayama
Japanese yam produced in Tamba Sasayama is famously used in local specialties like grated yam soup, and as a topping for boiled barley and rice.
Farming of this yam is said to have started in Tamba Sasayama during the early Edo Period (1603-1868). At that time, farmers from the Sasayama clan produced rice to pay as a tribute to the feudal lords. However, yams became a staple for these locals during the years of poor rice crops.
The climate of Sasayama is perfect for growing yams. High summer temperatures, moderate amounts of rainfall, the drop in temperature during fall and winter, and the thick fog of the valley create the ideal conditions for these tasty mountain yams.
This yam is also nicknamed "oyakoko" (mother and child) yam. Different from other potatoes, this variety grows under the seed of the potato plant. Due to this, it is also called the "oya wo katsugu" (parents-carrying) yam. This additional meaning makes it a popular ingredient for New Year's dishes and at wedding celebrations.
Savor Sasayama’s Famous Grated Yam Soup
The Japanese yam contains plant proteins and digestive enzymes, so it can be consumed raw. Recommended as an energy pick-me-up, this starchy potato also aids combating exhaustion and high blood pressure. The yam is white and smooth when peeled; however, it is extremely sticky when grated. Owners of Japanese confectioneries utilize its stickiness when making traditional sweets.
Grated yam soup is a favorite dish among locals. Eaten over rice, this regional specialty is known for its nostalgic taste. Other exquisite dishes are the Tororo Mugi Meshi (barley rice with grated sticky yam), sticky rice, and a Japanese yam and rice dish that is cooked with chicken.
The starchy morsels may also be pickled with vinegar, used in okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), fried in tempura batter, mixed in Karukan (a type of steamed sweet bun), and utilized as an ingredient in many other unique dishes.