MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Residents from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni participated in lotus root digging during a cultural adaptation program at Yamaguchi’s Agricultural, Forestry, Fisheries, and Stockbreeding in Iwakuni City, Japan, Feb. 10, 2016.
Iwakuni is a lotus root producer, exporting the product worldwide. Japanese workers provided participants information on the lotus root, including the various nutritional and health benefits such as vitamin C; dietary fiber; iron; potassium; calcium; prevention of colds, cancer and other diseases; and lowering high blood pressure.
“I didn’t know anything about the lotus root, so everything we learned today was new,” said Darlene Templin, a station resident. “I wanted to see what the lotus root was, what it tasted like and how to harvest it. My favorite part is how the Japanese always cook stuff, so you can see how to prepare new foods.”
Lotus roots, also known as renkon, are vegetables and are considered a food of good omen. It is said that the roots bring you positive future prospects due to the unobstructed view through their holes.
“The roots are very healthy vegetables and are an Iwakuni specialty product,” said Mikie Watanabe, cultural adaptation specialist at the cultural adaptation program. “You can cook the root to have any taste. Also, some residents have never seen a lotus root, so it’s good to introduce new things and show them how to cook new foods.”
After learning about lotus roots, residents along with other Japanese nationals took to the fields to dig roots and were offered the opportunity to take home their own.
“This is a very rare event,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, economic affairs department chief and farming and sales sections chief at Japan Agricultural Cooperatives Iwakuni Branch. “We would like to continue this event and have more Americans come and join us.”
For information on upcoming events, contact the cultural adaption program at 253-6165.