Travel, Teach, Live in Japan
The word "jidori" in Japanese means locally produced free-range chicken in each area of Japan.
It is an old-fashioned name and sounds like that the local chicken is really traditional strain kept in restricted area for long times, therefor, Japanese restaurant owners and farmers want to call it jidori to obtain much more profit.
However, you know that not of all jidori brands advertised in Japan are really traditional strain with delicious taste.
Actually, some of the strain was newly generated from the progeny strain of various local chicken from various region of Japan, in addition, sometimes bred with Korean or Chinese strain.
Here I will write about Aizu Jidori, which is one of the most famous and traditional jidori in Japan north area.
Aizu area is very famous as the place where Heike family and followers who were occupying western half of Japan for 200 years and the lost it at country-wide Samurai conflict in 12th century.
Aizu jidori is orally traditional chickens taken by Heike family from the capital city Kyoto to Aizu at that period and said to be handed down to now.
But in literature, the first one describing about Aizu jidori is found in a reference written in 1570s.
It is written in the reference that Aizu jidori feathers are very important decoration of the wears used in spring time festival "Aizu Higan-jishi festival" in Aizu area.
Yes, you can enjoy that traditional festival in March, and you can confirm that a lot of beautiful Aizu jidori feathers are used in traditional wears of dancers.
This is the reason why we believe the Aizu jidori is really traditional local chicken, at least 400 years history, and may inherit old taste for 800 years.
To be honest, when this Aizu jidori was recognized its value and researched in 1987, there were only a few numbers of birds kept in a few small farms.
So the investigators in chicken farming centers of Fukushima prefecture intensively took care of expansion of Aizu jidori number for 10 years, and thanks to them, now we can enjoy Aizu jidori taste in many restaurants.
You are suspicious about that are those chickens kept in a few farms were really the direct progeny of Aizu jidori, aren't you? Don't mind about that.
There are another famous jidori in the south side of Japan, Satsuma jidori, and the genomic DNA of both strain were sequenced and compared to each other, and were proven to be quite different ancestor chickens they derived from.
Yes, we Japanese are somehow paranoiac about the tradition or blood purity, probably because we give priority on the family than individuals .
Now these Aizu jidori is kept in large breeding farms in country side of Aizu, just like as they were in hills and fields in ancient days, a lot of natural exercise, appropriate time sun-bathing, natural foods and may have no stress.
Thanks to the farmers’ effort to keep Aizu jidori in organic style, we can enjoy Aizu jidori taste robably almost the same or better condition than 400 years ago.
In most famous Aizu jidori producing center Mishima town, the jidori farmers ship chickens at 120 days within a few days delay.
A hundred and 20 days are twice longer than the feeding time of broiler chicken usually kept until shipping.
There is a reason why, because the balance of the glutamic acid and inosinic acid in chicken meat is the best at 110-130 days old.
The glutamic acid and inosinic acid are known to affect the taste of meat synergistically better if those amino acids are included rich in the meat in good balance, and the best balance ratio developing timing was clarified to be 110-130 days by Fukushima chicken farming center.
Different from broiler chicken kept in small cages for 60 days without exercise, Aizu jidori grow in a large field with natural exercise and organic foods under the sun.
Such a breeding style presents you the best hardness and good smell of chicken meat when you put them into your mouth in Aizu jidori restaurants.
Good taste and good appearance with beautiful feather color, Aizu jidori is one of the best chicken you can find in Japan.I am very grateful to the staffs of chicken farming centers of Fukushima prefecture!
Here you can find the original article in Japanese and a picture of Aizu jidori.