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For children; their hopes for the future and for everyone who is alive today
''Food that will do good for the world and people''
Handmade sesame oil born from altruistic philosophy
Sesame - will never become a main dish nor appear in the limelight - yet it is an essential and excellent supporting player in many dishes. This is true especially in Asian countries such as Japan and hot climate countries on the African, and Central & South American continents. When roasted, its crispy, aromatic scent stimulates our appetite and almost nothing can beat such an elegant smell. Not only sesame as it is, but it is a magical ingredient which can transform into another excellent seasoning ingredient, that is, sesame oil or goma abura.
Handmade, golden sesame oil born from a pure heart
Kyoto is home to a handmade goma abura which has long been loved by people. The Yamada Sesame Oil Manufacture Company is an acclaimed producer of fine goma abura, a golden, honey-like glazing oil with an elegant aroma that only quality sesame can exude. Once tasted, you will be surprised by its light and smooth texture that is unlike any other oil.
A golden, honey-like glazing sesame oil with an elegant aroma that only quality sesame can exude
However, its extraordinary quality is not the only reason why Yamada's goma abura is so favored. Rather, it is the company's sincere philosophy that attracts so many fans to their product. ''To produce items for children, their hopes for the future and for everyone who is alive today'' - such a compassionate philosophy is a driving force of their goma abura manufacturing.
Roasted sesame is compressed
Over 50 years ago, there was a man named Yamada who wasn't physically strong. Although he worked for a company, Yamada's weak physical strength often prevented him from working hard. His life-long turning point arrived when he met Yukikazu Sakurazawa, the father of macrobiotics. After studying macrobiotics under Sakurazawa, the teacher told Yamada, ''Produce food that will do good for the world and for people.'' At first, Yamada didn't know what to do, however, he discovered that sesame oil was it. After a number of trials and errors, Yamada succeeded to achieve the Extra-virgin Goma Abura. Such was the beginnings of the Yamada Sesame Oil Mnufacture Company.
Today, Koichi Yamada, the grandson of the founder, has now taken over as the thirdgeneration owner. He often helped his grandfather and father to manufacture goma abura but it was just a part time job for him. After graduation, young Yamada worked for a large frozen food company. However, what he witnessed there was the reality of the mainstream food processing industry - an unbelievable number of chemicals were used in the processed food every day. Gradually, Koichi started to question his job.
Roasting sesame carefully by hand
One day, his grandfather's words struck Koichi. ''We must produce food that will do good for the world and for people.'' When Koichi realized that what he worked for every day was totally opposite from what his dear grandfather pursued, he had no hesitation but to quit the company and take over his grandfather's will. However, it wasn't an easy start at all. Many of the regular customers who had used to buy his grandfather's sesame oil had been lost and it took considerable effort to regain peoples' trust and attention. Moreover, to achieve quality goma abura which he could be proud of required such painstaking processes and labors and, since Koichi's goma abura was totally handmade, the quantity was limited. He could make almost no profit for the first few years and he had no choice but to take some part time jobs to support his family. Koichi almost gave up a number of times, but his wife always supported and encouraged him. She believed Koichi's hopes would flourish as long as they continued goma abura production based on the grandfather's words.
After about seven years, their business became stable step by step and today there are a number of big fans of Yamada's goma abura. In 2007, they opened an Italian restaurant named Piccolo Mondo Yamada, where people can enjoy healthy, hearty dishes.
Take an action for those who need help
In March 2011, another life turning point came for Koichi. The Great Eastern Earthquake, tsunami and disaster of Fukushima nuclear power plant devastated northern Japan and took so many number of precious lives. Koichi considered what he could do and decided to start some new projects to help people.
One of them is the ''Hello Farm Project.'' He supports farmers in northern Japan who had to give up their farms there and helps them move to Kyoto and start farming again. Another example is to measure radioactivity on all food and ingredients sold and served in their shops and restaurant in order to make sure they provide safe food. Their measurement is very strict and fulfills the criteria of the German Society for Radiation Protection.
In January 2015, another new challenge was launched. Under the concept of ''For children and their mothers with hope,'' a lovely cafe, ''gomacro Salon'' was opened in the central city of Kyoto. The idea came from Hiroko Sen who is the Sales Director of Yamada Sesame Oil Manufacture Company as well as Koichi's reliable right hand person. Hiroko was a work friend with Koichi many years ago and her perception of the world totally changed when she was pregnant and became a mother. Being a mother of a little child, she strongly wished to contribute to creating a kinder society in which it is easy-to-live for children and their mothers. She never expected her wish would come true but just told Koichi about her dream... and it has been actualized as ''gomacro Salon'' today.
Healthy, friendly, hearty cafe for everyone
''gomacro Salon'' is not merely a cafe which serves unique and tasty dishes and sweets using sesame. There is an event space upstairs where they organize cooking classes providing both cooking methods and food education lectures by farmers and manufactures, yoga classes, Oriental herbal medicine classes and more. Next to the cafe is a space to showcase and sell a variety of food and life items including, of course, Yamada's sesame oils as well as many others that Hiroko can proudly introduce to everyone. Colorful bento lunchbox, sesame sweets, and dishes for takeaway are also in the showcase at the door.
White Curry Set: The mild curry made with roasted white sesame grinded by stone mill and almond. Such a novel style of healthy curry! (1,350 yen with salad, drink and mini dessert).
The cuisine served at ''gomacro Salon'' is so unique that nowhere else can offer such delicacies. All items use a number of different kinds of sesame and sesame oils. Simply pursuing safe and tasty organic and purchased directly from the contracted farmers. Needless to say, no food additives and chemicals are used.
We are living in such an unstable world full of news of wars, economical challenges, and conflicts. However, each of us can take an action, no matter how small it seems to be, in our daily life. Then, the ripple of good actions will spread, first, for yourself, next, for the people around you and then to the society and the world. Sesame will never become a main dish nor have its time in the limelight. But one single drop of golden goma abura from Yamada Sesame Oil Manufacture Company can be the first drop to start the ripple and their philosophy will spread out to the world through their goma abura, dishes, the restaurant, ''gomacro Salon'' and of course the people!
Yamada Sesame Oil Manufacture Company
Open: 10:00-18:30; Tel: 075-394-3276; www.henko.co.jp
Open: 11:00-19:00; Closed: Mon. and 2nd & 4th Tues.; Tel: 075-257-5096; gomacro.jp
A variety of sesame oils by Yamada Sesame Oil Manufacture Company
Lovely interior of gomacro Salon
Tidbits of Knowledge about Sesame
Kinds of Sesame
*White Sesame (Shiro Goma): Rich in sweetness of natural sesame and exudes typical aroma and taste of sesame.
*Gold Sesame (Kin Goma): Profound taste and extraordinary aroma unique to the gold sesame.
*Black Sesame (Kuro Goma): Grown in the hot country, black sesame emanates a crispy aroma and strong taste.
How to Enjoy Sesame
Since a grain of sesame is covered with a hard skin, it is not possible to enjoy its full nutritional benefit as it is with the skin on. Therefore, it is recommended to enjoy sesame after it is roasted and then ground. Sesame paste and sesame oil are a good way to appreciate the best benefits and taste of sesame.
Oil contained in sesame mainly consists of linolic acid and olein acid both of which are unsaturated fatty acids. Linolic acid dissolves and expels bad cholesterol in the blood while Olein acid can reduce the bad cholesterol without reducing the good cholesterol. Ample amounts of minerals and calcium are also present which are said to be effective for preventing brittle-bone disease as well as for good blood circulation.
Ingredients of Sesame
Sesame consists of 50% oil, 20% protein and 30% of a mixture of vitamins, minerals and food fibers. Considering the balance of ingredients and the quality and quantity of the contents, the nutritional makeup of sesame is one of the best of all plant-origin foods.
*Photos courtesy of: Yamada Sesame Oil Manufacture Company