A Samuri With a Tender Heart

Minoh City Icons

We are finally starting to settle into a rhythm of life here in Japan. This is our first time in Asia and it all has been so overwhelming different. Everything we see or experience I want to find out more about. Where do I start blogging?

We live in the suburb of Minoh which is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Osaka. It is on the edge of the huge metropolitan area that surrounds the flat plains ringing the Bay of Osaka. Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka form a distinct metro region with close to 19 million people. Here in Minoh however, it doesn’t feel like that at all. The suburb has a lot of parks and bike/running trains, and the Hokusetsu Mountains form a backdrop for our views. The forested mountain area is a national park and only a 10-minute bike ride away from our house. (more on that later)

On a visit to the Minoh City offices to register as a resident, I noticed this cartoon mascot figure that looks like a samuri orange in the courtyard of the office complex (below) He is the famous Takinomichi Yuzuru, and is a promotional mascot for Minoh City. A yuzu is a variety of citrus fruit (a cross between a sour mandarin and a lemon-like citrus fruit) that is grown from seed in Minoh. The process takes 15-18 years of careful tending, but the taste of the fruit of the mature tree from seed is much better than by grafting. The village of Todoromi in the north of Minoh is famous for growing yuzu. I really have to get up there to see it myself.

Yuzuru is everywhere in Minoh: on buses, flyers, signs, and on the plaque near the main street in the photo at the top of the blog post. The people of Minoh say he is the samuri with a tender heart and if you pat his eyebrows when you see him, it is supposed to bring you luck! I also notice he has a girlfriend mascot, a pinkish Hello Kitty figure. I need to figure out her name.