Fukujinzuke (pickle of seven kinds of vegetables) (福神漬)

Fukujinzuke (or fukusinnzuke depending on regions) (literally, pickles of the gods of good fortune). It is a kind of non-fermented pickles, and consists of seven vegetables such as daikon radish, eggplant, sword bean, lotus root, cucumber, perilla seeds, shiitake mushroom, or white sesame, which are finely chopped and pickled in the flavored liquid containing soy sauce and sugar or mirin (sweet cooking rice wine).

The most reason why fukujinzuke had become popular nationwide rapidly from the Meiji period as a national food, is that fukujinzuke was introduced by the Imperial Army and Navy as a subsidiary food for rations in barracks and combat, and the retired soldiers brought the taste of fukujinzuke back to their homes, then spread.

In 1672, Ryoo DOKAKU from Yawata village, Ogachi County, Dewa Province (present day, Yuzawa City, Akita Prefecture) built a learning dormitory called Kangakuryo in Ueno Kanei-ji Temple. The Kangakuryo served students with meals which were spartan. The food served as accompanying dish was pickles which was invented by Ryoo. It was made of pieces of vegetable leftovers such as daikon radish, eggplant, and cucumber, well dried and then pickled. It is said that Rinnoji no miya (the leader of the Rinno-ji Temple) found its delicacy and named it as 'fukujinzuke,' then spread into ordinary people. Incidentally, according to the manga comic "Kamui Den" (The Legend of Kamui) written by Sanpei SHIRATO, a merchant character Yumeya launched it with the name 'Yatarazuke' and acquired a reputation. It may only be a fiction.

Later at the beginning of the Meiji period, Seizaemon NODA the 15th of a pickles shop 'Shuetsu' at Ueno, Tokyo began to sell fukujinzuke at his teahouse. It became popular and spread into all over Japan. About the origin of the name fukujinzuke, the following theories are held, that because it contains various kinds of vegetables, that because the shop was near the shrine deifying Benzaiten (the Goddess of Eloquence, Music, and Art) at the Shinobazu-no-Ike Pond in Ueno, or that a writer Kinga BAITEI named it because no other subsidiary for rice are needed so long as fukujinzuke is an accompaniment to, then food cost would be saved and it is happy as if the Shichifukujin (Seven Deities of Good Luck) had come to home.

In Japan, fukujinzuke is the most standard tsukemono (Japanese pickles), served with curry and rice. It is said that the first time fukujinzuke served with curry and rice was in the Taisho period (another theory says it was in 1902 or 1903), for the first class passengers of the passenger ship on a European run of the Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line), then spread all over Japan. Some say that the reason why fukujinzuke is colored red is to imitate the chutney of that time.

Although much of the fukujinzuke in the market had been colored by artificial colors of clear red, recently uncolored brown fukujinzuke is rather preferred.

[Original Japanese]