Cultivated for food in Europe since antiquity, the kale arrived in Japan during the Edo Period, brought to the Nagasaki port by the commercial exchanges with the Portuguese.
In Japan, kale was used more for its aesthetic qualities, as ornamental plant. While traveling through Japan, you may see it in the gardens, especially during winter, like this white-violet flower bed from Narita-san Shinshō-ji.
During the World War II, a drink made of kale became famous in Japan: called aojiru, it was invented by Dr. Niro Endo, who, in order to feed his family during that time of crisis, created a juice made of discarded leaves, most of them kale.
Interestingly, though, the drink was popularized again in 1983 by the company Q’SAI: a juice made entirely of kale, sold as a dietary supplement… Apparently it is good for the health, but it tastes so bad that it is sometimes used as a “penalty” during the Japanese TV game shows… (^_^)
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: