Samurai Pickles

The daikon is a mighty radish, white and hot, long and strong in flavor. It is a most common traditional Japanese vegetable and has been around for many centuries as a staple eaten as a condiment, in soup and as a pickle so strengthening as to be known as the “Samurai Pickle.”

Dried daikon radish

Daikon radish hung to dry (Photo credit: detsugu)

The daikon pickle known as “Takuwan” was named after a Buddhist monk who taught the Shogun feudal leaders. During the Shogun period of Japanese history, people began to eat white rice instead of brown and a new use for the rice bran that had been removed was created. The rice bran, called “nuka” was roasted and mixed with sea salt, kombu, and sometimes other flavorings.


Miyamoto Musashi, was a pupil of the Buddhist monk and became one of the most famous Samurai in Japanese history during the Shogun period. Hence the takuwant pickle became known as the “Samurai pickle.” (Photo credit: ..::Fighter-Arts::..)

The takuwan pickle is made by hanging the daikon upside down until it becomes flexible. It is then buried in a crock of nuka for one to three years, yielding a very strong, salty pickle. The takuwan pickle is often soaked briefly to reduce the saltiness before it is eaten.

It is not difficult to make takuwan pickles and sometimes wheat bran or brown rice flour is used instead of rice bran–though these have a slightly different flavor. An excellent reference on this may be found in the book, Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking for Health, Harmony and Peace. But it is possible to purchase high quality takuwan as well.  I find my takuwan pickles already made in the macrobiotic section of my food store or by mail order. The takuwan pickle is a tremendous aide to digestion, a stabilizing influence on body energy and is a naturally delicious accompaniment to brown rice and other whole grains.

Takuan or takuwan, Japanese yellow pickled dai...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)