"Menma" Made from Young Bamboo Helping Save Forests

Society Lifestyle

Tokyo, May 9 (Jiji Press)--"Menma" seasoned food made domestically from bamboo plants as tall as humans is gaining popularity in Japan, contributing to preserving undeveloped woodland near populated areas.

Imported menma, made usually from bamboo shoots, is commonly used as a topping for ramen noodles.

Bamboo, which grows fast and thickly, tends to prevent surrounding trees from photosynthesizing and can cause them to die. Well-planned logging and digging of banboo shoots are necessary to manage the plant, but that usually requires lots of manpower and costs.

After plastic started to be used widely in Japan in the 1960s, demand for bamboo dropped dramatically, with its use largely limited to charcoal. Due to an additional impact from the depopulation and aging of society, the number of bamboo forests left unattended increased, resulting in their becoming a social problem.

Eiji Hitaka, a self-employed worker in the city of Itoshima in the southwestern prefecture of Fukuoka, saw an opportunity to use young bamboo to prevent an expansion of damage from bamboo forests.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press