Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kinoko-gari: mushroom hunting

   Now make no mistake about it, I’m a kinoko fan. I remember coming to Japan hoping to go on what they call “kinoko-gari”, which, like hunting for animals, you hunt for mushrooms. I used to daydream about the day I would get to see the beautiful Dictyophora indusiata, or as they call it here the “Queen of Mushrooms”. While everybody has an obsession about one thing or another in Japan, mine undoubtedly has to be kinoko.

   Japan has a unique ecosystem of diverse forests that offer a variety of platforms for mushrooms to grow. While in mushroom-rich regions like Siberia or Alaska where a large number of mushrooms can be found, the varieties can be somewhat homogenous, whereas in Japan you can find clusters of oaks, red pines, beeches and pastures within kilometres of one another, it is not surprising to see a number of vastly different mushrooms.

   Autumn is a great season for mushrooms because of its high precipitation and warm temperature. In Kochi there are many places where you might find kinoko, such as Mt Irazuyama in Tsuno Town, or in forests at the Shimanto River in old Towa Village. All you need is a little bit of patience and concentration.

   Look near roots of trees for mushrooms like matsutake, where there are dead logs you might find shimeji or nameko, and on forest beds of decaying bark or leaves you might find my favourite veiled lady, the kinugasatake (pictured above).

   Lastly, be aware that poisonous mushrooms are everywhere, and may not necessarily be the colourful ones. If you are going to consume ones you pick, make sure that you are well informed of the variety, or consult a trained expert. And if you experience sickness, take your sorry ass to your nearest hospital! Have fun kinoko-gari-ing!

Taken from vol.38 PDF


  1. thanks for sharing.

  2. Ever wonder why Matsutake mushrooms are quite expensive in Japan? Well, the number of Matsutake mushrooms harvested in the country has decreased sharply due to the introduction of a bug that kills the trees they grow under. I'm not sure about the name of this bug, I can't remember. Personally, the fragrance and taste of Matsutake mushroom is unmatched.