Budo Sansho

What is budo sansho?


Cultivation techniques and quality control methods that have been passed down through generations

As cultivation has prospered, through grafting of disease-resistant stock and other techniques, the budo sansho cultivation method has also improved. By planting grafted seedlings, harvest can be reaped after around the tenth year. During the following 5- to 10-year period, fruit can be gathered in large numbers, however the trees gradually begin to lose vitality. A single tree reaches the end of serving its purpose after around 20 to 25 years.

Sansho is a dioecious plant, and pollen from flowers of male-flower producing trees is pollinated in flowers from female-flower producing trees, and then fruit first appears. For this pollination to happen, for every 10 female-flower producing trees, one male-flower producing tree is planted. The honeybees and other insects that carry the pollen influence the harvest, because if fine weather does not last during the period when the flowers are blooming, the insects’ activity will not gain momentum. Weeding from spring through summer is also a critical task. The work is done using a grass cutter, and without herbicide, so that the sansho roots spread in the shallow soil layers.

Harvesting takes place twice—from mid- to late May for Mizansho (green sansho berries), and from July to August for dried sansho. For both, the work requires picking by hand under the blazing sun. The bunches are picked carefully one by one so as not to damage the fruit. Even when harvesting is over, there is no time to rest. From winter through spring, pruning work and adding compost is essential to achieve good fruit in the following season.

Aiming for stable production and quality improvement, producers formed the Shimizu Sansho Producers’ Cooperative in 1968, and have been working to standardize quality control at every level—in cultivation techniques and production, harvest, drying, and delivery. As a result of these efforts by the region, budo sansho from Aridagawa Town has earned an excellent reputation. In this mountainous area where aging of the population progresses, budo sansho has become an important industry to support the region.

Budo sansho flowers
Picking work
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