The impactful appearance of the "Daikon Yagura"
Visiting the Yadorihara district to see the actual “Daikon Yagura”
What happens to the radish of the "Daikon Yagura" after being dried?

Located on a hilltop overlooking the sea, the Kinkocho Yadorihara district in Kagoshima prefecture is a peaceful rural scenery of expansive fields.
What appears at first to be a typical rural Japanese village, actually has a unique, visually impactful winter tradition. The “Daikon Yagura” - literally, radish houses - are a sight to behold.
Exclusively during the winter harvesting season, giant triangular scaffoldings are built in the village to be lined perfectly with tightly arranged daikon radishes. This is a sight seen rarely elsewhere, outside of the Yadorihara district.
In this article, we will introduce the nationally rare scenery of the Daikon Yagura, along with the purpose of their building.

The impactful appearance of the "Daikon Yagura"

Firstly, what exactly is a Daikon?
Just like cabbage and rapeseed blossoms, Daikon is a plant of the Cruciferae family that comes into season during the winter time.
It is used for cooking in various ways. The thick root is a popular ingredient for salads, boiled dishes, and pickles, and the fresh green leaf part is exceptionally delicious when fried or served raw with sauce.


Radish comes into season during the winter time
Although Daikon is a popular ingredient in many Japanese dishes, the Daikon Yagura - a tradition deeply related to the vegetable - is largely unknown. er all This is unsurprising, since Daikon Yagura is a unique winter tradition only found in a very limited area of Southern Kyushu.

What is a “Daikon Yagura”?

Radishes being laid next to each other

Daikon radishes being laid next to each other in a way similar to a roof tiles

In essence, the Daikon Yagura (Yagura meaning a house, shelter or otherwise roofed structure) is a method of cold-drying the vegetables on a large triangular structure. This practice of cold-drying daikon radish itself is seen throughout Japan; In many regions, radishes are commonly hung and dried on long posts and overhangs 

What differentiates the Daikon Yagura these methods is its scale.
Unlike the much smaller racks used in normal cold-drying, the Daikon Yagura uses a triangular three-dimensional structure, that can be as large as 7m high and 30 to 100m long.
The Yagura structures are lined with 10 horizontal bars, which are then packed with tight rows of Daikon.

The reason why radish farming is popular in Kagoshima

The major benefit of the Daikon Yagura is its ability to dry in huge numbers. The necessity of this practice is a representation of the region’s extremely high yield of daikon radish.
IKagoshima’s Daikon production is the fifth largest in Japan, and is a prefecture-wide farming practice not limited to the Yadorihara district.

One of the reasons for this is the soil quality, which is perfectly fit for daikon farming.
Daikon farming requires soil with efficient drainage, and the volcanic ash deposits (called “Shirasu”) that cover the region create the ideal condition for the vegetable to grow.

Cultivation of radish

Radish is actively produced in Kagoshima

Another reason is Kagoshima’s widespread culture of pickling. The popular “Takuan”, along with a 400-year long traditional pickle called “Yamakawa-zuke” - cold-dried radish preserved and fermented in salt - are widely produced in the prefecture.


Radishes dried in the cold are processed into pickles such as “Yamakawa-zuke”(Image)

Visiting the Yadorihara district to see the “Daikon Yagura”

The dried Daikon Yagura

Daikon Yagura are scattered throughout the entire Yadorihara district
After about a 2 hour drive from Kagoshima city, you will arrive at the Yadorihara district of Kinko-cho, where you can see the Daikon Yagura.
It is a small village located on a 200m high hilltop, with a population of less than 300 people.
Since the region is mainly consisted of only fields with no signs whatsoever to look out for, it is difficult to notice that you've arrived at the village.
However, this is not the case during the winter, since the "Daikon Yagura" scattered throughout the village, will definitely catch your eye. They serve as a landmark to tell you immediately that you’ve arrived at the Yadorihara district.
According to the farmers, about 30 Daikon Yagura are currently built inside the village.

The “Daikon Yagura” is a Giant Radish Greenhouse

The “Daikon Yagura” is similar to a greenhouse

It looks like a “Large Agricultural Greenhouse” when seen from a distance
The skeleton of the Daikon yagura is made from bamboo, and creates a shape similar to an agricultural greenhouse.
As I wondered to myself, “where on earth do they get this huge amount of bamboo?” my question was answered by the large stacks of bamboo beside the fields. It seems that every year, they bring out these stacks and use them to build the Yagura structures.

The bamboo used for the Daikon Yagura

The “Bamboo Materials” are stocked on the side of a field
The busiest time of the year for radish farmers is during December to January.
While being careful not to interrupt the farmers in at work, let's take a tour to look at the Daikon Yagura built along the driveway.

The various shaped Yagura unique to each farm house

A Daikon Yagura with a the bamboo on the top thrusting upwards
Because the Daikon Yagura are a hand-made by the farmers, the shapes and sizes slightly differ between each construction.
The top of the Yagura is where these differences especially show. Some have neatly trimmed pillars, while others are completely untrimmed. Some only trim their pillars on one side.
It is can be fun to stroll and imagine the reasons of why they are built the way they are.

A Daikon Yagura with one side left thrusting

One side of this Daikon Yagura is left sticking out
The cross section of a Daikon Yagura is shaped in a beautiful triangle. Upon taking a close look, something like a wheel track can be seen inside.

The wheel track inside the Yagura

The “Wheel Track” inside a Daikon Yagura
This is because the Daikon Yagura is designed for vehicles to pass through it.
Trucks are filled with radishes, and then driven under the structures. From there, the Radishes are  hung one at a time by hand.

The actual work of drying the radish being done

Trucks loaded with radish on the bed fit into the Daikon Yagura
The size of a Daikon Yagura ranges from ones where large trucks can pass, to compact ones designed for light-weighted trucks.
Perhaps the size is decided by the farmers’ equipment and work efficiency.

A light-weighted truck passing underneath the Yagura

A compact Daikon Yagura perfectly fitting the size of a light-weighted truck
The radish right after being hung is white and shiny, making the entire scenery fresh-looking with vivid green and white colors.

The radish at the beginning of the drying process

White and shiny fresh radishes are hung to dry
On the other hand, when looking at other nearby radish houses, you will notice that it has a brown appearance similar to a thatched roof, to the extent where you might not even notice that it is radish.

The Daikon Yagura after completing the drying process

It looks completely different after being dried
During the drying process, the spicy flavor of these radishes are reduced, while their sweetness is enhanced.
When asking a farmer while working, I was told that it takes about a week to 10 days for a fresh radish to dry and reach this state.

A dried radish

A completely dried radish

The reason why "Daikon Yagura" is especially active in the Yadorihara district

Although Kagoshima prefecture is known for radish farming, only a small part of the area including Yadorihara district uses the "Daikon Yagura".

The reason for this can be seen at Yadorihara Rural Park. It is a simple, no-frills park with nothing but a roofed resting space, a bathroom, and empty space. While it is simplistic, its lack of unnecessary structures gives it a spacious impression.

The Yadorihara Rural Village Park

The Yadorihara Rural Village Park
At the observation tower of the park, you can look down at the V-shaped Gulf of Kinko about 4 km away. This is the reason why the Yadorihara district is the optimal spot for Daikon Yagura.

Since the "Stream" extends straight from the sea (this is why the sea looks "V-shaped"), the sea breeze from the gulf blows directly into this area. This cold dry wind is ideal for drying radish.

You can feel the sea breeze blowing from the Gulf of Kinko

The sea breeze of the Gulf of Kinko blows directly into this area
A "Daikon Yagura Light Up Event" is held every year at the Yadorihara Rural Village Park for only a 2 day period.
It takes place annually in late December, so don't forget to check out the Kagoshima tourist information website.

The bamboo seen at the Daikon Yagura Light Up

The light up event is held from mid to late December every year. This may vary depending on the growing conditions of the radish .

What happens to the radish of the "Daikon Yagura" after being dried?

After learning about the secrets of the Daikon Yagura, our concern then shifted to where the dried radishes will go afterwards.
We then learned that certain pickle factories have exclusive contracts with radish farmers, and they are the next destination for the dried vegetables.

After being processed, the pickled radishes will be shipped mainly for sale throughout the Kagoshima prefecture and local produce and specialty markets.
The Nishiki-no-Sato roadside station

Local specialties of Kinko-cho are sold at the ”Michino-eki Kinko Nishiki-no-Sato”
The market is filled with local fresh vegetables and pre-made dishes.
Of course, radishes processed into "Takuan" pickles are also sold.
In addition to the "Regular Takuan", this time we've purchased a total of 4 kinds of flavors including the "Shiso", "Tamari Soy Sauce", and "Miso".

The Yagura-zuke

Counting from the above are Takuan flavors of Regular, Shiso, Tamari Soy Sauce, and Miso
They are named “Yagura-zuke”, and an illustration of a radish is printed on the package.

A package with an illustration of the Daikon Yagura printed

You can understanding the meaning of the “Yagura-zuke” if you know about the “Daikon Yagura”
Its taste is orthodox, and with it not having any distinctive flavors, it is enjoyable to a wide audience.
However, following the general trend of Kagoshima’s flavoring, you may feel that it is a bit sweeter compared to the Takuan of the Tohoku region.
The firm sweetness along with the saltiness also matches perfectly with white rice.

Rice and the Yagura-zuke

The Yagura-zuke matches perfectly with white rice. Try looking for your favorite flavor.

Appreciating the "Daikon Yagura" through both your eyes and tongue

The "Daikon Yagura" is an unique winter tradition, hard to find in regions other than outside of Kagoshima.
One can easily lose track of time just from watching the farmers hanging the radishes.
This scenery can only be seen for a short time in the winter. Why not see it for yourself?
Upon visiting, don't forget to stop by and purchase the freshly made Takuan at roadside stations (Michi-no-eki) or specialty stores!