Monday, November 10, 2003
Yesterday afternoon the house was filled with the wonderful almondy fragrance of raw biwanotane, the kernels of the seeds of the biwa (loquat; Eriobotrya japonica). The fragrance was even more profound because I was smunching them juicily on an oak slab with a hammer
in preparation for making biwashu, a traditional home health remedy made by tincturing thus-prepared biwanotane in shochu (sort of a sake brandy) for a minimum of two months, the biwashu getting darker the longer it's aged. The intense fragrance, in a kind of serendipitherapy, lifted my thoughts to very sunshiny places, making me feel both hungry and satisfied, which I guess is about as close as you can get to the Tao and exist at the same time.
Matured biwashu can be used internally or topically in the mouth or on the skin. It's a panacea for small home emergencies: burns, bug bites, bruises, aches and pains, infections, gum problems, canker sores etc. We always carry a small bottle of it with us when we travel. It did wonders in abbreviating my sciatica, and I still think it played a miraculous role in making my one and only kidney stone disappear in a half hour.
Every temple has a biwa tree somewhere in its precincts for just such use; the sliced leaves thus tinctured make a superior topical medicine as well, excellent for, among many things, taking the itch out of mosquito bites. We used about a kilo of biwa kernels in about 2 liters of gemmae (brown rice) shochu, enough to share with friends.