Jelly strip (tokoroten)

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Jelly Strips, gelidium jelly (tokoroten)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: All Summer
***** Category: Humanity


Cold Jelly Stripes, gelidium jelly, tokoroten,
心太, 心天 (ところてん)
..... tokoroten 石花菜(ところてん)

"big heart" kokorobuto こころぶと
"heart and heaven", kokoroten こころてん

pushing out the jelly, kokoroten tsuki 心太突き(ところてんつき)

extruding tokoroten jelly

This low-calorie food made of the red seaweed called "tengusa 天草" (Gelidium) is a godsent for dieting people! It is high in vegetable proteins but low in calories. Tengusa is harvested by the womenfolk from rocks along the shorelines of Japan.
After boiling, it gets its jelly-like quality.

Maybe the old Chinese food called "tama abura" was another form of a "seaweed that makes gel". In the Heian period, this was a delicacy for the aristocracy.

Gabi Greve

is a dish of thin translucent jelly strips. It is served cold and eaten with vinegar-based dressing. It is a snack rather than a meal.

Agar agar, aka Kanten
Tokoroten is made from agar, also known as kanten. Agar contains a substantial amount of dietary fiber and no calories. Unlike gelatin, agar does not contain animal protein.

Agar is made from some species of marine plant. They are called tengusa in Japanese.

is a kind of dessert made of agar cubes instead of strips and eaten with sweet syrup instead of sour vinegar.
© kimoto.cc

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Worldwide use

Things found on the way

tokoroten uri ところてん売り vendors of Tokoroten

source : www.web-nihongo.com
The hiragana for tokoroten is written on the figure of the vendor.
They carried a shoulder pole with two boxes 荷台, one for the plates and a bottle of soy sauce. Sometimes white sugar (an expensive rarity in Edo) or soy flour was sprinkled on the treat.

They called out their merchandise :
tokoroten ya - tenya ところてんや、てんや

tokoroten uri wa ippon han ni yobi

tokoroten -
the vendor calls one
and a half

tokoroten kinako satoo wa yome no bun

sprinkled with soy flour and sugar
only for the wife

source :shop.gnavi.co.jp/i-kappa
selling tokoroten by the roadside

tororoten uri ところてん売り vendors had a wooden box with lattice, to provoke a cool feeling.

. Food vendors in Edo .

. senryuu, senryū 川柳 Senryu in Edo .


Kiyotaki no mizu kumasete ya tokoroten

water drawn up
from Kiyotaki stream -
this Tokoroten jelly

Tr. Gabi Greve

Written in 1694 元禄7年, Basho age 51
This hokku has the cut marker YA at the end of line 2.

This is a greeting hokku for his host Yamei to thank him for the refreshment.

Written at the home of Sakai Yamei 坂井野明 in Sagano, Kyoto.
Nearby was the river Kiyotakigawa 清滝川. The Kiyotaki waterfall brings the water from Mount Atagoyama to the gorge in Sagano.

Yamei was a masterless Samurai from Hakata, Kuroda.
His haiku name YAMEI was given to him by Matsuo Basho himself.
He is also called Hoojin 鳳仭.

. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Kobayashi Issa liked it quite a lot !

ko-darai ya fuji no ue naru tokoroten

little tub--
on top of Mount Fuji
cold jelly

Tr. David Lanoue

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Tokoroten from Izu, with Mt. Fuji

tabibito ya yama ni koshi kakete tokoroten

a traveller -
he sits on the mountain
with gelidium jelly

Tr. Gabi Greve


. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 .

tokoroten sakashima ni ginga sanzenjaku

Jelly noodles
in a black bowl -- an upside-down
Milky Way

Tr. Allan Persinger


tokoroten kemuri no gotoku shizumiori

tokoroten -
like smoke
it sinks down

Hino Sojo (Soojoo) 日野草城 (1901-1956)


tokoroten susutte jimon jitoo kana

(Tr. Blyth)

Sucking up the gelidium jelly,
I ask myself questions,
And answer them.

Blyth reports that Rogetsu was "greatly respected in the haiku world after the death of Shiki."(Note: p. 150, A History of HAIKU, Volume Two) In the same small section he introduces this tokoroten haiku but does not offer any comments. One can speculate almost anything as to what Rogetsu wished to say in this poem. What is certain is that he would not have used such a phrase as jimon jito without meaning some kind of a metaphor, or hidden meaning. Jimon jito is rather a peculiar phrase to use in haiku, especially in Rogetsu's time. He therefore must have used it deliberately. It can mean several things.

Firstly, Rogetsu may be depicting a kind of his loneliness whereby he had to deal with certain difficult (philosophical) questions all alone as he is not in the company of those with whom he could discuss them. It can mean that he was casting a doubt on the way he was living. The comical juxtaposition of tokoroten and jimon jito indicates a degree of self-mockery and a faint self-pity about it.

The reason why Blyth chose this haiku seems almost self-evident. It is the Zen-like atmosphere and scene which permeate this haiku. It is also the kind of un-expected moment (the act of eating tokoroten) when Rogetsu seemed to tackle some question, when satori may or may not happen. I am always cautious whenever critics, including Blyth, start talking about Zen in relation to haiku.
Comment by Susumu Takiguchi, WHR 2002

Related words

***** Jelly Bean Cake (mizu-yookan)

***** Seaweed (kaisoo)

***** Food from Japan (washoku)


WASHOKU ... Japanese Food SAIJIKI

#tokoroten #jellystrip


anonymous said...

Claudia Cadwell

tokoroten gel-
please forget the nori
on my bowl

on facebook, July 02

sakuo said...

Asking question.


Gabi Greve said...

Hi Sakuo san,

ところで 柿車 kakiguruma
made from korogaki, also very delicious


Anonymous said...

sweet jelly--
from a cow's back
is served

tokoroten ushi no ue kara tori ni keri

by Issa, 1822
Tr. David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

kiyotaki no / mizu kuma se te ya / tokoroten

Matsuo Basho

Gabi Greve - Edopedia said...

tokoroten uri ところてん売り selling tokoroten jelly in Edo