Tsukaike Ski Hill, Hakuba
In addition to Hakuba’s winter popularity for snow sports, many locals know that Hakuba’s ski mountains make picturesque hiking and mountain biking trails throughout summer and early fall.
Some also know that the ski hills have some of the tastiest mountain vegetables and plants in summer.
On a small walk in June, friends and I ran into two Nagano locals picking the mountain vegetable (sansai) huki, or Japanese butterbur on Tsugaike mountain.
Huki, of Japanese Buttebur on Tsugaike Mountain
Coincidentally, later that day a friend brought huki to our music practice in my town.
Like the couple picking huki in Tsugaike, my friend had discarded the elephant ear like leaf in favor of huki’s long, thin stems.
The stems are often diced, cooked in a soy sauce type sauce, and resemble a taste similar to other Japanese pickled vegetables.
Huki can seem fairly easy to pick and eat and can easily be found in gardens, hills, and mountain side’s throughout Nagano.
Though ! I wouldn’t recommend picking and digesting wild mountain vegetables without a local’s supervision and guidance.
Eating Sansai Mountain Vegetables in Nagano
For those without time or access to picking their own sansai, or mountain vegetables, any soba
A Nagano couple picking Huki mountain vegetables on Hakuba's Tsugaike mountain
restaurant throughout the prefecture should most likely have sansai on their menu.
Sansai are commonly served with udon or soba noodles and occassionally as tempura.
In Hakuba, Zen Soba House, for example, is known for their soba and sansai and conveniently located just across from the 7-11 at the bottom of Happo One village.