Yuzu is the winter fruit often used for Japanese sweets and meals. Since it has strong fragrance, we sometimes use Yuzu for pepper, fresh sour, or float them on the Japanese clear soup “Osumashi”. Although it is necessary for Japanese meal all around the year, Yuzu is in season in winter.
Yuzu is used to float on the bath also. It is the annual event to take bath with Yuzu in the winter solstice. It’s December 22nd in 2015. What’s the origin of this custom in Japan?
The winter solstice is the shortest daylight in the year. It is thought to be the day of the strongest Yin. It is exactly the solstice to recover the power and fortune. To prepare for this important day, we need to lustrate by taking Yuzu bath. As the plants with strong fragrance had been thought as the charm against bad luck since ancient era, Yuzu is the perfect fruit in winter.
I put whole Yuzu in the bath to enjoy the fragrance every year, but it is better to wrap with cotton cloth if you have delicate skin. In addition, it’s better not to crash them in the water. Just enjoy the fragrance and its beautiful yellow color.
Japanese souvenirs using Yuzu
Yuzu mochi(rice cake) in Tsuruya Yoshinobu：Soft dumplings of rice powder kneaded with Yuzu. The precious sugar “wasanbon” are dusted on them. It has been the masterpiece of this sweet shop since 1868. A famous Japanese artist Tessai Tomioka(1836-1924) and showa emperor(1924-1989) have bought this delicious sweet.
Yuzu in Eirakuya: Eirakuya produces varieties of sweet using Yuzu. Diried sweets “Ohigashi”, agar sweets “Kohaku”, and fresh sweets “Joyo”. Ohigashi and Joyo are limited in the exact seasons.
Yuzu spice in Shitimihonpo: Japanese noodle soba and udon become tastier by putting yuzu spice. It can be used for roasted chicken “Yakitori” also.
Yuzu in a tea room!
Actually, I have Yuzu in Tea Ceremony Koto, too. This is the tea bowl made in Oshikoji in Kyoto. Having powdered green tea with this Yuzu tea bowl in December, I feel the beginning of the winter and remember the day we should take Yuzu bath.
The design of Yuzu is often used in tea utensils such as tea bowls and incense boxes. It’s interesting to see many flavors of Yuzu. For example, talking about incense box, it is usually made of pottery, but I sometimes find them made of real fruit dried and varnished with Japanese lacquer.
It is the familiar fruit for all seasons lately, but actually, it is the fruit in winter. Let’s feel Japanese season with the great culture in a tea room!