Kyo-yasai (Specifically Certified Vegetable Varieties Grown in Kyoto) (京野菜)
"Kyo-yasai" is a general term for varieties of vegetables that were created by selective breeding a long time ago and have been produced in a traditional manner mainly in regions in Kyoto Prefecture, generally referring to 43 varieties of vegetables in total that fall under 'Kyo no Dento Yasai' (41 varieties certified by Kyoto Prefectural Government to continue to be produced in the traditional manner) and/or 'Brand Kyo-Yasai' (21 varieties certified o have reliable quality and to be produced at such an adequate and stable volume to enable distribution to the marketplace).
In Kyoto, which has been flourishing as a cultural center from ancient times, it was difficult to procure seafood because of its inland location, specifically, its remoteness from the sea, and therefore vegetarian cuisine was developed at many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, which led to the continuous cultivation of flavorful vegetables in Kyoto.
However, farmers gradually became unwilling to produce those vegetables because it took a lot of work to cultivate and harvest them, which resulted in the extermination of some of the varieties. This triggered the designation of 34 varieties of such vegetables as 'Kyo no Dento Yasai' in 1987 by the Kyoto Prefectural Government. The criterion for selection is whether or not a prospective variety has been produced since the Meiji period or earlier in Kyoto Prefecture, and several varieties were additionally designated. Among the varieties designated, some are distributed around Japan.
Kyo-yasai has not undergone selective breeding aimed mainly at better appearance or convenience for wide-area distribution, which is the reason why many varieties are queerly-shaped; however, many of these varieties are more nutritious than ordinary vegetables.
Naturally, Kyo-yasai is used for Japanese cuisine; moreover, it is often used for French and Italian cuisine. Vegetable varieties locally produced are not limited to Kyo-yasai but include Naniwa-yasai, Yamato-yasai, and Kaga-yasai, which are cultivated in Osaka, Nara, and Ishikawa.
List of varieties of Kyo-yasai
A variety marked with an asterisk (*) represents one that was created by selective breeding in or after the Meiji period, but is equivalent to varieties that have been cultivated since earlier times.
Daikon varieties: shogoin, karami (literally, strong-tasting), aomi (literally, greenish), tokinashi, momoyama, kuki, sabaka
Turnip varieties: sabaka, matsugasaki-ukina, shogoin, ouchi, maizuru
Green vegetable varieties: sugukina, mizuna, mibuna, hatakena, uguisuna, hanana*
Eggplant varieties: kamo, kyoyamashina, moginasu
Red pepper varieties: fushimi, tanaka, yamashina, manganji*, takagamine*
Root crop varieties: ebiimo (taro-like tuber)/satoimo (taro), kuwai (arrowhead), horikawa-gobo (a variety of burdock)
Other vegetable varieties: shishigadani-nankin (pumpkin), kyo-myoga (Japanese ginger), kyo-seri (Japanese parsley), kyo-udo (udo), junsai (water shield), kujo-negi (leek), hiragino-sasage (cow-peas), katsura-uri (gourd), kyo-takenoko (a variety of bamboo shoots specifically selected from among ordinary varieties)
Extinct varieties: kori-daikon (daikon), toji-kabu (turnip), shogoin-kyuri (cucumber)
In Kyoto, a Kyo-yasai Day falling upon the 15th day of every month was established to familiarize Kyo-yasai to many people, whether or not resident in Kyoto Prefecture, and efforts have been made to make such a day take root.