Kanpyo (dried gourd shavings) is a food that is produced through the process of tearing the fruits (called fukube) of cucurbitaceous yugao (a white flowered gourd) and drying them (yugao of convolvuluses family (=yorugao) is another plant with the same name). After being soaked in water, dried Kanpyo is used in sushi, nimono (boiled dishes) and aemono (chopped fish, shell-fish and vegetables in various dressings). It is a low-calorie and fiber-rich food.
Process of production
The work of Kanpyo production is normally done in the early morning, before sun-rise, when air temperature is low. In production areas, an electric instrument with a foot lever is used for peeling. Firstly, remove stiff skin by sticking the fruits of yugao into a vertical shaft, spin it with a motor and press a peeler against fruits from the side. Next, tear the fruits, in similar fashion with cutting (cooking), into the shape of long belts by the use of a plane-like edged tool whose handle is half-fixed in order to prevent shaking.
Hang belt-shaped products on bamboo poles, dry them in a room and pack them.
Since the beginning of 20th century, the principal production area has been the southern part of Tochigi Prefecture and its kanpyo production volume accounts for more than 80% of total production volume in Japan. Until then, however, the Kansai region had been the production center. The scene where people were drying kanpyo was depicted in the picture of Minakuchi-juku Station (Koka City, Shiga Prefecture), one of the pictures of Tokaido Gojusan-tsugi (fifty-three stations of Tokaido Road) drawn by Hiroshige UTAGAWA.
Nationally, common uses of Kanpyo are Kanpyo-maki (Kizu maki), ingredients in sushi, chirashi-zushi, binding string in boiled foods like kobu-maki (kelp roll) and age-kinchaku (a pouch of fried soybean curd).
In Tochigi Prefecture, the production center, Kanpyo is often used, other than the above, as boiled foods, fried foods, kinpira, kanpyojiru with egg mixed and vinegared foods. Recently, it is also used in salads as well as a coating of batter.
As shown below, there are several views concerning the reason why Kanpyo-maki is written as Kizu-maki on sushi bar menus. Regardless of different views, however, all of them assert that this name derives from the name of place that is related to Kanpyo.
It is because Kizu in Settsu Province (Naniwa Ward, Osaka Prefecture) was the birthplace of Kanpyo production and the production was prosperous there.
Kanpyo was transported from Yamashiro Province to Kizu in Settsu Province via the Kizu-gawa River and Kanpyo-maki was created there. From the Taisho period to the early Showa period, Kizu Kanpyo produced in Yamashiro was a brand at Osaka market. Therefore, Kanpyo was called Kizu in the Kansai region.
Tadahide TORII, who was transferred in 1712 from Minakuchi Domain in Omi province to Mibu Domain in Shimotsuke Province (Mibu-machi, Shimotsuga County, Tochigi Prefecture), encouraged the production of Kanpyo and it led to the rise of Kanpyo production in Tochigi Prefecture. The production area located inside the territory of Minakuchi Domain was Kizu.