A Treasured Creation: Today's Treasure - "Natural Ice Farmers"
At the foot of the Nikko mountains lives Yamamoto Yuichiro (age 70) and his son Jin-ichiro (45), who, without relying on any machines, produce the hardest natural ice in Japan. The season begins in late fall when they adjust the amount of spring water daily while waiting for cold weather. If the first centimeter freezes solid, then it will make fine ice. But if it doesn't, they will have to break it and start over. Yuichiro says, "Man can only do very little to nature. So the ice artisan's job is to just help the ice to grow without fighting nature." In December, they scrape snow to help the ice freeze and keep careful watch as it slowly grows until harvest time in 3 months. We take a close look at the efforts of these men who produce hard-to-melt ice in harmony with nature.
Natural ice is produced thanks to spring water and cold winter weather. It is reserved in cold rooms called Himuro.
Yamamoto Jin-ichiro, 5th successor of Tokujiro's ice farm (left), Yamamoto Yuichiro, 4th successor of Tokujiro's ice farm (right)
In order to prevent dust and fallen leaves from getting into the ice, they scrape off snow and dirt every day. This task can take 16 hours.
Airy and hard-to-thaw, high-end natural ice doesn't cause headaches when eaten. It is quite popular among children and women.