Japan has four seasons. Each season has its unique ingredients.
In Autumn, especially, you will find many tasty foods to stimulate your appetite.
But in recent years, the ongoing irregular weather is causing the harvest of some foods to be extremely low at times.
In Kyoto–a popular destination for Japan trips–Matsutake mushrooms, the “king” of foods at this time of year, are in season for shipping.
Matsutake mushrooms grow in forests where especially Japanese red pine trees grow. It is often used as a favourite ingredient in fine Japanese cuisine for its signature aroma. The matsutake mushroom is listed as an “endangered species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
Of course, matsutake mushrooms are available in Japanese supermarkets. But most of them are cheaper matsutake mushrooms from China, with less aroma.
Japanese people tend to like the matsutake mushroom aroma, but quite many foreigners find the smell unpleasant.
October in Japan is the autumn season which usually is cold. But early October this year, unseasonably hot weather reduced the harvest of Tamba matsutake mushrooms to 1/10th of the usual amount. Tamba matsutake is Japan’s most famous brand of matsutake.
Tamba matsutake mushroom prices are shockingly high. At this year’s first auction, the price of 1 kilo was approximately JPY 11.85 million (=USD 104,466.96), setting a new all-time high record. To celebrate the first “auction” of the year, people in Japan have a custom of buying at a higher price than usual.
Probably the most expensive matsutake mushroom in the world was purchased by an old local ryokan (Japanese inn). For just THREE mushrooms, 70g total, they paid JPY 830,000 (USD 7,317)!! That’s JPY 277,000 (USD 2,442) per mushroom.
The matsutake mushroom is favoured in its “bud” state when the cap part (pileus) is not open.
A 350g (4-6 pcs) Tamba matsutake mushroom in its bud state then sold on the market for over JPY 73,000 (tax included; USD 644). If you calculate the price of one piece, the price is around JPY 14,600 (USD 128.76). Even though the harvest is less this year, it is still expensive.
If you ever have the chance to travel to Japan, you must try Tamba Matsutake.
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