Muddy Lotus Roots Turn into Colorful Flowers
TOKUSHIMA- Spanish artist Joan Miro (1893-1983) drew flowery and rhythmical abstract paintings. They were like embodied music. A female designer who admires Miro wanted to realize his abstract painting with lotus roots. This motivation gave birth to “Hana Renkon” (Flowery Lotus Roots) in Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture. The product is bottled pickles of sliced lotus roots with red and yellow vegetables, designed to look like a bouquet of flowers. Lotus root in Naruto is known of its whiteness and crispness, and because of its shape it is often used at auspicious occasions.
In Japan, older people say that this vegetable brings you a good future and is considered to bring a good luck, as lotus roots grow with long holes down their lengths. You can look right through the vegetable like a telescope. When sliced, they are reminiscent of flowers.
Sumiko Saito created Hana Renkon. She is a flower designer. About 30 years ago, she married a man who was the son of ninth-generation lotus root farmer in Naruto. “I love flowers and when I was young I decided to make a living with flowers,” Sumiko said. “In 2013, I was given an opportunity when I was asked to enter an agricultural competition. I had been thinking of using only baby lotus roots to make pickles. I wanted to introduce beautiful lotus roots to the market. So I was inspired by Miro’s flowery paintings in making Hana Renkon,” she said. Her work received a top prize at the competition.
However, her victory led to hardship. As a perfectionist, she repeatedly told herself, “This is food. No mistake is allowed!” She spent more than two years at a third-party institution creating a new type of processed food that tasty, healthy and safe with no additives, that could sustain near-fresh conditions and realized a super mild flavor. After undertaking special endeavor, Hana Renkon was born and it officially went into production started at the end of 2015.
Sumiko was born at a Buddhist temple dating back to 1308, one of the oldest ones in Tokushima Prefecture. When she was a child, she used to follow her nearly 90-year-old grandmother, who was a flower arrangement teacher, every day to dedicate flowers to many locations at the temple. It is from this experience that she owes her interest in flowers. When she became a junior high school student, she loved handicrafts. She single-mindedly sewed small fabric dolls almost every day in her room. About 50 to 60 years ago, it was the norm that Japanese women quit working after they were married. Her birth mother, however, was working and often told Sumiko to have a job even after marriage. Sumiko was influenced by her mother and began thinking about handcrafts as her future occupation.