Medicinal Food – Umeboshi

June 23, 2011 Juju Kurihara 0 Comments


Umeboshi (梅干し) is one of the must have items for Japanese meal. umeboshiIt´s a type of pickle and made of plum and we use them for many things. There are many food products using umeboshi in Japan; as a spaghetti source, tea even for the sweets. After miso soup (misoshiru / みそ汁), this umeboshi may be the soul of Japan.



Hinomaru Bentou (日の丸弁当) is a lunch box with only rice and one umeboshi in the middle. The name came from Japanese flag (hinomaru / 日の丸).

During the war, people couldn´t get enough proteins, they only had some rice (it was often substitution of rice such as millet or barley) and an umeboshi. As the lunch boxes were made of bad quality aluminium, the strong salt of umeboshi made a hole on the top of the lunch boxes.


For Japanese people, umeboshi can be the taste of nostalgia, especially for those live in overseas.

There is a popular Japanese pop group, called Spitz (スピッツ). They´ve even made a song "UMEBOSHI", yes very straight. Like this. 






























※umaboshi tabetai

umeboshi tabetai boku wa

ima sugu kimi ni aitai


Totemo sabishii

totemo sabishii boku wa

ima sugu kimi ni aitai


Nefuda no tsuita kokoro

waku kara hami dasenai

hoshi uranai de subete katazuketai


Shiranai aida ni boku mo

warumono ni natteita

yasashii kotoba dakeja monotarinai




Ana no aita nagagutsu de

mizutamari funzukete

namidaga deruhodo warai korogetai


Shiranai aida ni boku mo

warumono ni natteita

yasashii kotoba dakeja monotarinai



I want to eat umeboshi

I who wants to eat umeboshi

want to see you now


I feel really lonely

I who feels really lonely

want to see you now


Heart with the price tag,

I can´t be slipped out from the frame,

I blamed horoscope for everything


I´ve become a bad one, too

without realising,

sweet words are not good enough anymore


※ (repeat)


Stamping on the puddle

with my holed rain boots,

I just want to laugh until I cry


I´ve become a bad one, too

without realising

Sweet words are not good enough anymore


※ (repeat)


Yes, umeboshi for Japanese people is something sentimental.


karikariBy the way, like anything, there are many kinds of umebishi in Japan from sweeter ones to really sour ones. But here I show you very basic ones, which are soft ume (yawarakai umeboshi / やわらかいうめぼし) and crunchy ume (kari-kari umeboshi / カリカリうめぼし).

Some people make them at home and also make plum liquor. The grandma of my childhood friend often gave us liquor from ume or some jelly made of this liquor. But look, I´m talking about when we were 9 or 10 years old. My friend was as she grew up with this tough granny, she loved it, whereas I couldn´t swallow this weired liquid.

Years later, obviously, my friend´s become a big boozer and I´m not…



Umeboshi is also used as a medicinal food. I was a quite weak kid and every 2 or 3 months, I had a flue, then whenever I got sick, my farther would come with a cup of green tea with a black thingy at the bottom. 

ume yu

"What´s this?" frowning.

"Umebishi" my father.

He burned umeboshi over the fire and put it in the green tea. The sensation of having burnt umeboshi skin stuck on my lips and teeth was just horrible but it warmed me up enough to sweat over night.

I don´t know if it was just an old tradition he got it from his parents or actually it works as a medicinal food, but when I think of umeboshi, I remember this burnt umeboshi tea.  See? Umeboshi is something nostalgic.


ume hai

If you like alcohol, I recommend ume chuhai (うめ酎ハイ/ Shochu with umeboshi).

This is one of the most popular drink in izakaya (Japanese pubs). Shochu is another Japanese traditional alcohol as well as sake. Most of it is mede of sweet potatoes or wheat and can have quite high percentage of alcohol.

The one made in Okinawa (沖縄) can have more than 90%, so be aware, boozers.



The taste of umeboshi, we always associate with sour. 

Now let´s have a little experiment.

Close you eyes and think about a lemon, sliced or squeezed, whatever. Just image a lemon with as much detail as possible.


What happend?

Did you get saliva in your mouth?

Well that´s what usually happens to Japanese people when they think about umeboshi. And this boy´s face is the very typical face when people eat umeboshi, especially it was his first time.


Umeboshi  tabetaaaaaaaaaaai!!



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