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Mame-Nio (Bean Mounds)

There are so many adorable tiny houses on the hills!

This is classic Biei autumn scenery and they are called “mame-nio” in Japanese.

In Japan, there is a traditional means of harvesting beans known as “niotsumi”, which means “to pile up into a mound”, and when this technique is applied to beans, it is called “mame-nio” (meaning, “bean mounds”).

It might not look it, but it's actually very labour-intensive to make mame-nio. The harvested beans are gathered into a pyramid shape and are left to dry for several days. This process is called “Shimadate” in Japanese. Once the beans have dried sufficiently (which usually takes three days to one week, depending on the weather) they are piled up once again in the “mame-nio” fashion. This is not done with machinery—the entire process is done by hand.

Once they have been reasonably piled up, the last step is to put little hat called a “mame-pocchi” on top of them, a waterproof plastic sheet.

Taken halfway through October in 2019, the only “mame-nio” we could find

When you look at these shapes all neatly lined up in the fields, from afar they almost look like kindergarteners out on a day excursion!

However, due to recent advancements in mechanisation and because making them is such hard work, here in Biei the number of farmers who make mame-nio is decreasing. We don't know how much longer this precious scenery will be around—the sight of classic autumnal mame-nio decorating the hills.

Because of the huge swing between hot and cold temperatures, here in Biei it's possible to harvest very high-quality beans. As you're here, we'd like to take a moment to introduce some products made from beans!

◆Enjoy Biei Beans

Mame-Gokoro

“Mame-Gokoro” means “A Heart of Beans” in Japanese. “Mame-Gokoro” are steamed beans, using six kinds of beans produced in Biei (soybeans, red kidney beans, tiger beans, white beans, black beans and green soybeans).

These have been lovingly made by the farmers' wives and the many housewives of Biei.

They contain no artificial additives or colourants and because they are steamed they are packed with nutrients! They have not been seasoned in any way so you can use them for all kinds of cooking.

Biei Table Oka-no-Okashi Black Beans

Biei black beans that have been freeze-dried. They have been seasoned slightly with sugar and have a wonderful smell… once you try them, you'll be addicted!

Biei Table Oka-no-Okashi Azuki Beans

Azuki beans grown in Biei that have been carefully boiled and freeze-dried. The packaging is also very cute, it looks exactly like azuki beans! This is a popular product, with a gentle sweetness and a pleasant crunchy texture.

An-Jam (Azuki Bean Jam)

A jam 100% made from Biei-grown shumari azuki beans. It comes in a tube so you can handily use only the amount that you need. If you spread this on toast, then you can easily make a classic Japanese breakfast dish, “ogura toast”! It's also a great topping for mochi rice cakes or ice cream.

Biei Hills Perfume

This is an original coffee blend hand-roasted at “Kita-Koboh” coffee shop in town, made with soy beans grown through a contracted farm in Biei's hills and coffee beans. This product is “Bieitiful”-branded.

The owner of Kita-Koboh tasted dozens of bean varieties before choosing a variety called “Ohsodefuri Soybeans”. These soybeans have a gentle fragrance and are rich in flavour.

This is a great product either as a souvenir or as a little treat for yourself!

●Shop Information

Kita Koboh

Address
Hokkaido, Kamikawa-gun, Biei-cho, Sakaemachi 3-5-31
TEL
0166-92-1447
Opening Hours
10:00~18:00
Closure Days
Wednesdays

◆Buy Biei Beans

Biei Senka

Address
Hokkaido, Kamikawa-gun, Biei-cho, Omachi 2
TEL
0166-92-4400
Opening Hours
Opening hours differ by season. For more information, please check Biei Senka's homepage.
Closure Days
Senka Market & Bakery: Open All Week
Restaurant & Senka Factory: Wednesdays

Roadside Station Biei "Oka-no-Kura"

Address
Hokkaido, Kamikawa-gun, Biei-cho, Honmachi 1-9-21
TEL
0166-92-0920
Opening Hours
Opening hours differ by season. For more information, please check Oka-no-Kura's homepage.
Holidays
Open every day all year round (With the exception of New Year, Dec 31st - Jan 3rd)

◆Handmade Accessories Made From Beans


mallow

Cute and colourful accessories that you'll be surprised to know are made from beans!

They are made by Biei hand-crafter mallow. By day, mallow works as a farmer, but in their free time they make accessories made from natural materials like beans and corn husks. Please do come and browse them for yourself!

◆Where To Buy Accessories

Biei Town Handmade Shop
la colline

Address
Hokkaido, Kamikawa-gun, Biei-cho, Nakamachi 1-4-8
TEL
0166-74-3185
Opening Hours
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday
10:00~17:00
※Sometimes open on other days, too. Enquire for more information.
Closure Days
No scheduled closures (though may be closed irregularly)

As you can see, even with something as simple as beans there's many ways to enjoy yourself in Biei! As you enjoy our scenery, please do keep Biei's farm produce in mind.