In Japan you never know what you’ll see next. It is one of the many things that I love about living in Japan. The strangest thing you will ever see might be just around the corner.
Like that one time we were visiting the towns of Magome (in Gifu) and Tsumago (in Nagano). These picturesque little mountain towns are a popular tourist destination. They are connected by a beautiful walking trail that used to be part of the Nakasendo and at only 1h30min from Toyota City by car, it is the perfect day trip.
My story, however, pertains to the remarkable sight we had on our way back from Magome to Toyota City. All of a sudden we saw a building with a giant chicory plant (also known as Belgian endive) on the roof. Since chicory is a typical Belgian product, we were very excited. I managed to snap a few shots as we drove by.
The only thing I could make out from the sign on the roof was ちこり村, which reads Chicori Mura, meaning Chicory Village. So with only that information to go on, I still had no idea if this was a factory or a tourist facility. Fortunately the internet is there to help mankind solve such mysteries. A little research revealed that this is in fact a tourist recreation park dedicated entirely to the humble chicory.
It seems amazing to find a place in Japan that is exclusively dedicated to chicory. Perhaps the bitter taste makes it a popular vegetable in Japan? I do believe that Japanese people living in Belgium are generally quite fond of chicory.
Since I don’t read Japanese well enough to understand the website, I am still not entirely sure what one is supposed to do at Chicory Village. In any case there is the opportunity to eat chicory in the restaurant and drink some chicory shochu or grappa. I would love to find out what other kind of chicory fun can be had there.
Be sure to check out the videos on the Chicory Village website if you want to get a feel for the place. The enthusiastic employees with their big smiles are so typical of Japan and really make me miss living there even more!
Are you excited to visit Chicory Village for yourself? It is right off the Nakatsugawa intersection on the Chuo expressway. The address is 1-15 Sendanbayashi, Nakatsugawa, Gifu Prefecture 509-9131, Japan. If you have a Japanese navi system, you can probably insert the phone number: +81 573-62-1545. There are detailed directions on the website, but they are Japanese only: http://chicory.saladcosmo.co.jp/access.html
Hi Robert and Hanako-chan
May be I can help ? My name is Junko.
I am Japanese living in Holland. I am importing Japanese products from Japan.
I just receive the brochure about Chicory Shochu (Alcohol) from our HQ.
Quite interesting and start searching more them, then find this site.
Hi Junko, I will put you in touch with Robert. I’m not sure if he is still working on his thesis, but you never know!
At this moment I’m writing my thesis for a Dutch Chicory company who wants to export it’s products to Japan. I really love your story about this Japanese chicory city!
Can you guys help me to get in touch with them? I prefer in English because I can’t understand Japanese what so ever. Would be great!
I love that you are doing a chicory related thesis! Unfortunately I can’t help you to get in touch with Chicory Village. I don’t read or write Japanese and I don’t know anything about Chicory Village other than what I wrote in my post.
Maybe you could try searching their website for a phone number and call them in the hopes that someone over there speaks English? Or send them an e-mail in simple English. If you are trying to make sense of a Japanese website, I recommend the plugin Rikaichan for Firefox. With this plug in enabled, you get the translations of Japanese words if you hover over them with your mouse.
Thank you for all the tips! It’s not that easy to get to the core of my thesis, but this can help.
Thank you Haruko-Chan!
yes, this is one of the many reasons i enjoy going to places outside the big cities. you never know what you may get to see. plus, japanese love to specialize in something. and so whatever you find, you know you are getting the best possible quality of product.
I completely agree. I love that quality is the norm in Japan, and not an exception like in Belgium.
i think this is the same case all over the world. which is why i always enjoy visiting japan.
So funny. I haven’t gone to the site yet but I think what they may be trying to do is promote chicory which is not the most popular vegetable in Japan as much as possible. Nowadays at least in Tokyo, you will find it in any supermarket but it could be pricey and it’s not something we must have in our salads and if you’ve never come across it, you’d go w/o it.
I love chicory but I guess I don’t buy it that often.
I also saw it in a high-end supermarket in Toyota City, but indeed it was very expensive. Maybe many people in Japan wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway. I like it, but there are many Belgians who dislike it due to its bitter taste. It is funny that our two national vegetables, chicory and Brussel sprouts, are so unpopular. 🙂
Ahhhh, Brussel sprouts, the most unpopular vegetable of all time in the States!! It’s not like that in Japan though. There is no strong dislike by every single person perhaps, again, because it’s not something that’s in everyone’s diet here. 🙂