Dadacha beans are a type of edamame (green soybean) and one of the “indigenous crops” that have been carefully preserved by farmers since the Edo Period (1603-1868) in limited areas around Tsuruoka. Its outer skin is brownish and the beans hair on its surface is brown in color. The pod is narrowly shaped. After being boiled, the beans characteristically have an aroma like sweet corn. The harvest period is such a short time from mid-August to early September, although an early-grown type of beans is out for market earlier. It is said only Dadacha beans that are grown in these limited areas can have the unique flavor they originally do.
In early summer, we visited Mrs. Yuko Togashi at her residence in the Shirayama area, which is known as home to Dadacha beans. It was the end of June and it finally rained the day before following a rainless week, so everyone talked a lot about the blessing of rain that is good for farmers.
First, Mrs. Togashi invited us to her Dadacha beans workroom. “Please have a seat,” said Mrs. Togashi. We sat at a bean sorting machine in place of a desk and started listening to her. As a snack to go with tea, she served us early-grown edamame beans. “These are not Dadacha beans, so they might be less flavorful. But I feel happy because these are the first edamame of the season.” Mrs. Togashi has a gentle atmosphere. With only little conversation, we felt she softened our hearts but was also steadfast.
It is not so long before this Dadacha beans workroom will be going full blast. At its peak, about 15 staff members are at work. They harvest, pick, rinse, sort and pack Dadacha beans and all of this is done in the morning.
The machines in the workroom have never been more ready. They looked as if they were looking forward to the forthcoming loads of Dadacha beans. During the height of the season, Mrs. Togashi’s family starts working from 3am and the staff members start their work at around six in the morning. “We normally finish a day’s work before noon and we ship in the afternoon. So, relatively, I think it’s an easy shift to work,” Mrs. Togashi told us.
We asked her to tell us about her old days. “When I was a kid, I got forcibly woken up by my parents when the crops were in season despite summer holidays. My friends were all out swimming or something, but I had to help work day in, day out. So, I hated Dadacha beans. We used to feed cows and pigs. There were quite a few houses in my neighborhood that owned livestock. The pigs next to my house were so big and one of them ran away at nigh