Kuzu is another basic element in Japanese cuisine, which originates from this area. The severe weather conditions of the basin contribute to kuzu making, a necessity for Japanese sweets and dishes. Yoshino kuzu is made in the northern Yoshino Mountains - famous for its cherry blossoms - and Ouda. Both regions are famous for its kuzu production. Yoshino kuzu is made during the cold wintry months from the root of the arrowroot grown deep in the mountain ranges of Yamato. When starch taken from the root is refined by water, you have yoshinokuzu. At "Kurokawa Honke" in Ouda-cho, the veteran craftsmen continue to make the finest yoshino-kuzu using the same method without any fire that has been used for over 400 years. The starch from crushed fibers of the arrowroot plant is refined in cold well water - so cold that your hands feel numb - for 48 hours. The starch is then refined in fresh Well Water again, after the water with grounds is eliminated. This is called kan-zarashi (cold refinement), and after the procedure is repeated five times over the course of 10 days, the kuzu is then dried by cold wind, Yoshino-kuzu, with its unique flavor, is used as the valued ingredient of yoshino-ni (stew), goma-dofu (sesame tofu) and high-class Japanese sweets.
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