Pickled Red Radishes Filled with the Life and Culture of Hida

Hida Yamamiya's Pickled Red Radishes
(Month information was collected: November 2023)
The Hida area is in northern Gifu Prefecture. This cold highland area is surrounded by mountains around 3,000 meters tall. The people who live here prepare pickled red radishes as a dish to help them withstand the harsh winters. Founded in 1919, the local pickled food store Hida Yamamiya focuses on a specific variety called the Hida Beni red turnip, and has preserved the same flavor using a traditional preparation method. In this issue, we introduce the Pickled Red Radishes, which are a product of Hida's culture.

Let's look at what makes the Pickled Red Radishes from Hida Yamamiya worth buying.

A focus on the local Hida Beni red turnip variety

There are many varieties of red turnip, but Hida Yamamiya only uses the traditionally and locally grown Hida Beni. It has high moisture retention and sugar content, resulting in a dish that has a traditional, delicious flavor.

A traditional preparation method involving lactic acid fermentation, which uses only salt

The Pickled Red Radishes are matured and fermented carefully at a low temperature using only salt, without any other additions. The power of lactic acid bacteria gives this dish rich umami and vinegary flavors.


Boasting number-one shipping volumes, with a locally beloved flavor

There are several pickled food stores in the Hida Takayama area, but Hida Yamamiya leads them all in terms of the amount of products shipped. This store’s Pickled Red Radishes can be found at all supermarkets and souvenir stores, owing to their renown among local residents.

Pickle culture developed to overcome harsh winters

Many areas across Japan have a culture of pickling foods. The Hida Takayama area is subject to heavy snows, and so pickled dishes were valued in that region as they offered a long shelf life over the winter season, during which obtaining fresh vegetables is difficult. “Long ago, each family used to pickle their own foods and serve them daily at their own tables,” says Katsuharu Nagaoka from Hida Yamamiya. The region has a unique culinary culture, such as a local dish called “pickle steak” that was created by people who cooked pickled Chinese lettuce that froze due to the cold together with eggs.


Pickled Red Radishes are an iconic dish from the Hida Takayama area, and they are prepared by fermenting red radishes with lactic acid bacteria. Hida Yamamiya takes care to only use the Hida Beni red turnip variety that originated locally, in order to produce an enduring, traditional flavor.

“This variety is high in water and sugar, and is softer compared to other varieties of red turnip. We add salt and carefully ferment and mature the turnips at a low temperature to create vinegary and umami flavors. The pigment in the skin spreads across the flesh, producing a beautiful deep red color.”

Hida Yamamiya's Pickled Red Radishes: Fermented and matured using only salt


These Pickled Red Radishes are prepared using a very simple method. First, red turnips are cleaned and put into a tank that is about 2.5 meters deep, along with salt. This mixture goes through an initial fermentation process for two to three days. Afterward, the turnips are pressed to remove moisture and then mixed with more salt. Finally, the turnips are placed under a weight for the main pickling process. The turnips ferment and mature gradually for three to six months inside a storehouse with a temperature controlled to around 3°C. This produces a strong umami flavor and a rich vinegary taste.


Hida Yamamiya produces Pickled Red Radishes all year round, but the store is at its busiest around the New Year’s holiday season. People flock to buy the store’s Pickled Red Radishes as gifts at the turn of the year, and locals enjoy the pickles for meals on New Year’s Day. The deep red color is the perfect fit for this auspicious holiday. For a limited period from December 1 to the end of the year, the store also offers a series of Pickled Red Radishes named Kuradashi that are shipped straight from the barrel without undergoing any heat treatment. This is the only time when you can eat fresh red radishes that have been pickled right after harvesting. When eaten straight after shipping, these Pickled Red Radishes are juicy and full of umami flavor.


“Pickle consumption is falling on an annual basis, but we will continue to produce Pickled Red Radishes to protect the Hida Beni red radish, agricultural workers, and the local food culture,” says Katsuharu Nagaoka. “We will keep on preparing pickles with the same, familiar flavor that will fill you with a nostalgic feeling whenever you eat them.” These Pickled Red Radishes express Hida’s culture and character to all those who eat them.

Photographer : YUTA SUZUKI

Nagaokaya (Directly Managed Store)

Address 1-45, Honmachi, Takayama, Gifu
URL https://www.hida-yamamiya.com/

*The information in this article is current as of the date of the interview. Please contact the restaurant for the latest information.