Monday, March 06, 2006


On our walk yesterday afternoon we went to what we call Sanshu park, a sort of mini-botanical park tucked away in the foothills above Katata where only locals can find it, it seems, though there's seldom anyone there; if it's right in the neighborhood, the locals tend not to visit it much (it's right there, maybe we'll go tomorrow), so sure enough there were few folks there.

The park is best in the late afternoon when the sun is just slanting down behind the mountains. There are gazebos and some excellently lawned slopes for rolling down and probably sledding too (footnote for when the grandkids visit) though we haven't been there on a really snowy day.

We make a special trip to Sanshu every year in late Summer to harvest the berries from the small clusters of Sanshu trees there (Cornus officinalis, Japanese Cornelian Cherry, also known as Sour Mountain Date), which no other visitors seem interested in, for some reason.

We weren't herb hunting yesterday, though, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that all the small bright red fruits we hadn't garnered last summer had remained on the trees and were now dark ruby raisins. The birds had missed them too! Eating as we plucked, we harvested all that were there for use in making a very good tonic, either by soaking in grain alcohol (vodka's good also, or brandy), or blending with water in the blender, straining and adding honey.

Known as Shan Zhu Yu in Chinese herbalism, the berries are renowned as a strengthening tonic for longevity and exceptional health. Harvesting them on a golden Spring afternoon is also an excellent tonic.

Botanical data

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