IN SEARCH OF MY ROOTS

東京尋山葵

Discovery - - 日本 JAPAN - IRWIN WONG PHOTOGRAPHY

Is this the coolest, strangest trip at Tokyo’s back door? JULIAN LITTLER goes wasabi-hunting Julian Littler不遠千里,來到東京的郊野,只為尋找長在深山裡的山葵

As the slow train pulls into Kawai Station, David Hulme waits on the panoramic platform. His sturdy shoes, cargo trousers and light-coloured long-sleeves act as a coolclimate warning before the doors open. Around 60 kilometres west of central Tokyo, it feels 10˚C cooler here than downtown in summer. And it is only 10am. I’m excited to see my white-haired, septuagenarian friend, and we eagerly catch up while elderly passengers shuffle onboard. The train pulls away to reveal a landscape of deep valleys and steep inclines.

On my first visit here two years ago, David shared his latest work in progress, raising wasabi – a distant relative of horseradish and mustard, and a Japanese dining staple. Until then, I’d listened as he spoke about ‘wasabi-da’ – the ‘da’ being Japanese for field – but I didn’t grasp the complexity of the project.

Signs of animals are in no short supply, I’m told. Recently, city authorities were called to trap a family of wild boar posing a threat to local residents, and raccoons sometimes turn up as unwanted visitors. Up here on the mountain, boars once smashed apart his wasabi patch. Their powerful snouts uprooted the young plants, leaving debris everywhere. Deer and monkeys are also a concern. But it all sounds exciting to me. All I get in Tokyo are crows, sparrows and the occasional seasonal silvereye.

My Australian-born wasabi-growing guide made the move to the hills of Okutama, his favourite hiking area, just two hours west of Tokyo’s city centre, in 2014 after deciding to leave his job editing a business magazine. Daily mountain life now replaces weekend treks.

‘I used to go hiking a lot, but I don’t really do that any more, because… I live here,’ says David. While no longer setting out on long saunters into the woods for leisure, his work and volunteer activities take him into the mountains almost daily. He is also an official information centre guide for the area, often joining study tours to learn about local plantlife.

On my last visit, we walked deep into the forest. This time, we drove along the same path. Two years ago, I arrived at the top to find what I first thought was merely a section of riverbed enclosed by low walls of tight-packed stone encircled by drooping nets. Today, the nets hang high between sturdy poles driven deep into the earth to block the passage of unwanted grazers. It is clearly a mountain crop being cultivated.

Wasabi – a local speciality – thrives on fresh, flowing water. Controlling the pace and level of the flow is just as essential as getting rid of extra silt to ensure a healthy crop. Just two stations down the Ome Line, in Okutama, you can buy wasabi cheesecake or order wasabi-don, a

火車緩緩駛進川井站, David Hulme早就站在景致開揚的月台上等我。車門還未打開我,見到他穿著厚重的鞋子、工裝褲和淺色長袖上衣,就知道車廂外的氣溫一定很清涼。這個地方在東京市中心以西約60公里外,時值盛夏,卻令人感覺氣溫比市區低攝氏十度而,現在還只是早上10時。跟眼前這位頭髮花白、年屆七旬的朋友會面,教我躍雀萬分,就在長者們魚貫登車之際,我倆急不及待地站在月台上交換近況。火車駛離月台後,一片幽深的峽谷和陡峭的山坡就在前眼 出現。

兩年前我首次來到這裡, David與我分享他種植山葵的最新進展。這種植物是辣根和芥菜的遠,親 亦是日本料理不可或缺的調味品後我常。 來經 聽見他把「山葵田」掛在嘴邊,卻從不知道他這個農作項目有多複雜。

聽說這裡經常發現動物出沒,最近市府政 有關部門奉命前來圍捕一群對當地居民構成威脅的野豬;此外,浣熊也是不受歡迎的客人。野豬曾將David的山葵田搗毀,牠們突出的鼻子力大無窮,將山葵幼苗連根拔起,弄得遍地都是殘梗碎葉;鹿和猴子也會來湊熱鬧搗亂。不過在我聽,感來 卻 到十分新鮮刺激,因為在東京,看我 到的就只有烏鴉和麻雀,以及偶爾因季節變化而徙遷 來的灰胸繡眼鳥。

這位為我充當嚮日的山葵農夫於澳洲出生,由於非常喜歡到東京以西兩小時車程的奧多摩一帶山岳遠,足 索性於2014年辭去商業雜誌輯編 一職,搬到這裡居住。從此昔日於周末才踏足的山野現, 在成為日常生活的一部分。

David說:「以經我 前 常登山足遠,但現在已沒這樣做了,因為我就住在山上。」雖然他已不再為消閒遣興而在林間漫步,不過為作了工 和義工活動他還是幾乎每天走深。進 山 他亦是區內官方資訊中心的日遊,不時參加遊方團,方習本土植物生態。

我次上 來訪時,我們徒步走進森林深處這。,次我們沿著同一路線駕車前行。兩年前登上山頂時,我為前是以 眼 只 一小段河床,被密密麻麻的石頭成砌 的矮牆圍,牆外圍著垂網。,現在 圍都網 高懸於牢牢釘進泥土裡的樁柱間之 ,阻止不速之客入內覓食。,這次我一眼就看,出 這是有在人 山上種植農作物。

山葵是當地名物,生長於流動的淡水環境當中。控制水流度速 和深度的工夫跟, 鏟除多餘的淤泥以確保作物健康同樣重要。從這裡乘搭青梅線鐵路,前往兩個車站後的奧多摩,就可以買到山葵芝士蛋糕,或到廳是餐品在嚐飯上鋪滿色青 芥辣的「山葵丼」。

WASABI – A LOCAL SPECIALITY – THRIVES ON FRESH, FLOWING WATER山葵是當地的名物,生長於流動的淡水環境中

rice bowl garnished with wasabi.

‘ Would you like some wasabi?’ asks David, picking up a specialised tool. The kazusa looks like a curved, slim and sharp version of a hoe. Its long steel tooth is designed for working riverbed stones. Scraping up two plants covered with lush green leaves, he hands one to me.

‘ Try that.’

Chewing one of the leaves, a delicious, soft warmth fills my mouth. I imagine spicy salads. Turning to leave, I spy a squirrel scampering off into the woods. It starts to rain.

Dinner that night was Japanese gardenfresh vegetable nabe stew with pork, made by David and his wife, Satoko. Absolute silence surrounded the house outside, broken only the occasional car speeding along the highway and rain. Homegrown edamame, boiled or steamed salty young soybeans, was followed by more fresh produce from the garden. It was then time for an early night on the tatami.

ONSEN HIKE

The following morning I go to Mitake Station, next along the line, to meet my trekking partner. We’d planned a five-hour hike through the mountains followed by lunch at Tsuru-Tsuru Onsen, a volcanic hot spring day resort. The name is onomatopoeic, imitating the sound of smoothness. The gentle alkaline water is supposed to beautify the skin.

To save time, we jump on the bus, then take a cable car up the mountain.

At the highest point of Mount Mitake, at 929 metres, stands Musashi-Mitake Shrine. The sacred Shinto site, which dates back over 1,000 years, features exquisite carpentry including a traditional torii gate framing the surrounding hillsides; and stone statues of dogs considered to be gods are scattered through the grounds. Passing a short queue of people eager to get their fortunes told, we exit towards the town below.

Slipping out of the tiny mountaintop village through its quiet backstreets, the track narrows as the vista once again opens out over woodlands. We leave the houses behind, following the stretch between Mount Mitake and Mount Hinode, which is dominated by cedar trees.

Over this way, the path cuts a passage midway along the mountain. It is too high up and distant from any creeks, streams or access roads for there to be any signs of wasabi. The only noise breaking the woodland atmosphere here is the occasional crack of a chainsaw or an offroad motorbike. I haven’t seen any animals and think back to a friend showing me a photo of a huge bear walking on the road in a town near here. Maybe I’m okay about missing such an encounter.

After five hours walking in the solitary wilderness we find a graffiti-covered car left by the roadside on the edge of a hamlet of holiday cabins. Nearby, fish swim at the edge of a pool filled by a stream of crystal-clear water.

Arriving at the road leading up to the hot springs, I’m ravenous. Cloudy weather had meant we missed the view of Tokyo from the highland path. No Mount Fuji for us either.

Inside Tsuru-Tsuru Onsen’s Panoramic Cafeteria, we drink in the mountain views and order a late lunch of sweet and sour fried chicken, tofu, salad, pickles and gomoku rice. By the time it arrives, I’ve already polished off a sizeable bottle of Ishikawa Brewery beer. I then try three sakes. Their crisp dryness brings on an overwhelming urge for tempura, also fuelled by accidentally sighting a dish overflowing with the crispy delicacy exiting the kitchen.

Later, soaking in the outdoor hot spring tubs, gazing up into the canopy, I’m already planning my attack on the wasabi stems in my bag.

Once back in Tokyo we’ll head directly to a department store seafood market, possibly the best source after the city’s Tsukiji fish market. Here we’ll choose the best-looking salmon we can find, maximising freshness by avoiding pre-cut sashimi, instead buying a beautiful whole fillet. The fishmonger will slice it neatly on our request and we’ll break new ground in mountain-to-table home cuisine.

TSURU- TSURU ONSEN’S ONOMATOPOEIC NAME IMITATES THE SOUND OF SMOOTHNESS溫泉以TSURU-TSURU為名,是一個擬聲字,模擬滑不溜手的聲音

David拿起件製一 特 工具,然後問我:「要來點山葵嗎?」那工具名叫kazusa,看上去像一把彎、曲 幼長而尖銳的鋤頭,鋼製的長齒專為挖起河裡床 的石頭而設。David剜起棵兩 頂部長滿茂密綠葉的植物,把其中一棵遞給我說:「試試看。」

我嚼咀 葉片時,一股可口怡人的暖意充口滿 腔,我覺得像在吃味道香辣沙的律。轉身離開時,我瞥見一隻鼠忙松 慌 竄進林間,天開始下起雨來。

當晚晚的 餐是日式新鮮田園蔬豬菜肉鍋,由David和他的妻子Satoko合力炮製。屋外萬籟俱寂,只偶爾傳來速高公路上風馳電掣的汽車聲和下雨的淅瀝聲。除了豬肉鍋之外,還有自家種植的枝豆,用煮水 或清蒸,味道略帶鹹味,非常鮮嫩。接著還許有 多由菜園新鮮採摘的蔬菜陸續上桌。飽餐之後,我早早就鑽進榻榻米上的被窩裡就寢。

溫泉遠足

第二天早上,我前往青梅線上的下一個車站御嶽,站 跟我的登山夥伴會合。我們計劃進行五小時的遠足之旅,並於攀越山 嶺後前往只在白天開放的火山溫泉度假村Tsuru-Tsuru Onsen享午用 餐。溫泉名為Tsuru-Tsuru,是擬聲詞,擬模 滑不溜手的聲音,因為鹼性的泉溫 水水質柔滑,據說有肌美 效果。

為了節省,時間我們登上巴士,再轉乘纜車上山。

御岳山高929米的山頂上有一座神社,名為武藏御嶽,神社 裡面供奉犬神,因此到處有很多狗的石雕像。神社的鳥居有如把周遭自然風景裱起的畫架,令人印象深刻。神社是有上千年歷史的木建築,

工藝精細,巧奪天工。我們經日正在輪候占卜的人龍,朝著山下的城鎮走去。

我們穿日山頂村莊內靜的巷離謐 小 ,開村莊後山徑開始收窄,但樹林美景亦在眼展前開我。 們途經山邊的房舍,沿著御岳山和日出岳之間長滿杉樹的山徑行走。山徑沿著山腰的山勢開闢,這裡地勢太高,附近亦無任何溪澗、河流或通道,因此並無山葵的蹤影。唯一打破林

間寂靜的,就只有偶爾傳來的電鋸或越野電單車的聲音。我在這裡沒看有 見任

何動物,只記得有位朋友曾拿一張熊巨在附近小鎮的路上出現的照片給我看。這經種 歷,即使失錯 亦無妨。

在孤寂的荒野裡步行五小時後我, 們在幾家度假木屋外,看見一輛車身佈滿塗

鴉的汽車被棄置於路邊。附近有一道流進

池的澈流塘 清 溪 ,魚兒在池塘邊的流水內翻嬉滾 戲。

抵達通往溫泉的路口時,我飢已 腸轆轆這。 是個密雲的陰天,表示我們法無 從高處俯瞰東京風光然,當 也看不到富士山了。

在 Ts u r u - Ts u r u On s e n溫泉的Panoramic Cafeteria餐廳裡,我在麗們 秀

的山享景前 用遲來午的 餐,食包甜物 括 酸炸雞、豆腐、沙律、醃菜和五目飯。菜式上桌之前我灌, 已 下了一杯石酒川 造出品的啤酒。,嚐接著 我品 了三款酒清 ;清酒口感乾辛清爽,突令我 然想天吃 婦羅。當我無意中看見有從人 廚房裡端出一大盤美味的炸物時這, 份渴求更加逼切。

其後,我浸在室外溫裡抬的 泉 , 頭仰望枝葉扶疏的樹冠時,就已在盤算如何對付袋裡那幾枝山葵。

返回東京後我, 們會直接前往百貨公司的海產市場,那裡的海產品質之佳可, 說是僅次於築地漁市場。我們會挑選賣相最佳的三文魚,而為了品嚐極致鮮味,我們不會買預先切好的刺身,而是選購泛著然天 新鮮魚油亮澤的優質全條魚柳。魚販會按我的照 們 要求仔細地將魚柳切片,然後我們將山野直送的山葵拿出來,炮製風味新鮮的自家刺身料理。

Digging it Towering cedars blanket the mountains west of Tokyo (this picture); harvesting wasabi grown in the hills (right) 深耕細作位於東京西面郊區的山間長滿參天巨杉(本圖);在山間收割山葵(右圖)

悠然慢活上圖起順時針:前往御岳山的登山纜車; Tsuru-Tsuru Onsen溫泉的泉水及Panoramic Cafeteria餐廳

The slow life Clockwise from top: the cable car up to Mount Mitake; Tsuru-Tsuru Onsen’s hot springs and Panoramic Cafeteria

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