|Natto in Mito!||(Entered Mar. 30, 2009)||Sponsors:|
The legend of natto goes something like this:
If you ever wonder why people decided to eat rotten food, the explanation is simple. Way back before fridges, all food rotted, and people still ate it because they were hungry. Usually it tasted like you'd expect mold to taste, but every so often we got lucky and some strange delicacy was born, hence natto, blue cheese, vegemite, lutefisk, etc.
Besides having Kairakuen, the city of Mito in Ibaraki is THE place to go if you're a natto lover. I'm one of those rare gaijin that fits into that category.
Near Mito station you can find the Tengu natto factory. Walking in the door, you're greeted enthusiastically by the gift shop lady and the stink of natto. There is no tour here, which was a nice change of pace. Just head on back to the factory yourself and look around.
Just another day for the crew at the Tengu natto factory...
The factory is only one small room, so once you've had enough of watching people in white coats wrap up natto in straw (approximately 3 minutes) head upstairs to the natto museum.
Straw waits patiently for it's turn to help rot some soybeans.
The museum, being only one small room, shouldn't take too long either. 5 minutes?
I know what you're thinking. 'Wow, the inventor of natto!!'
Natto isn't natto unless it's 'neba neba', which is a Japanese word to describe something that's a cross between gooey, sticky and slimy. When you grab some natto with your chopsticks, it should leave behind a trail of gooey filaments, like spiderwebs, that float around and get on your hands and clothes. All part of the experience!
Well Mito may have natto and Kairakuen, but would I live there? Actually the city itself was very quiet and peaceful, almost too quiet I thought, a bit like a ghost town... Perhaps Mito will be a future haikyo site like Detroit? In the end though I realized that natto and parks aren't everything in life, and I decided to stay in Tokyo, at least for the time being....
Food for Thought...