Harvesting Ginnan at Ganenji Temple – Gifu
The season to harvest the fruit of the giant Ginkgo trees that Japan and especially Tokyo is so famous for has come. If you have spent any time under a ginkgo tree in the autumn you will recognize the squishy pale fruits that fall in great heaps from some of the trees, and the very peculiar odor that comes from the fruit as it starts rotting on the ground. In parks and along streets it is quite common to see people collecting the fallen fruit, while the flesh itself is poisonous, the seeds can be quite delicious when prepared correctly. While visiting the small Ganenji temple in Minoshi, a small city in Gifu prefecture I saw a smart method of collecting the fruit: just let them fall on a blue sheet spread out under the tree and collect them in buckets to let the flesh of the fruit rot and fall of by itself. While really tasty, the nut, called Ginnan in Japanese (銀杏), it is not too good to eat to much. My stomach never agrees to more than a handful of the nuts at a time, but I am sure some strong stomached people can eat more than that! Ginnan is one of those things you just have to try if you are in Japan in autumn or during the winter. I am sure you can also find the fruits in other countries, but unless you know how to prepare them they will probably just be a very smelly nuisance. Ginnan taste a bit like chest-nuts. I’ll write more about Minoshi and Gifu prefecture in a few days.