Journalist and translator Winifred Bird, 41, lived nearly a decade in the countryside of Mie and Nagano prefectures, growing organic rice and vegetables while learning the traditions of Japanese foraging. Her new book, “Eating Wild Japan,” out March 30 from Stone Bridge Press, is a botanist’s guide to edible plants, a cookbook, a collection of insightful essays about Japanese food culture, and a memoir about life in rural Japan.
Any reader with an interest in finding edible plants in the wild can use Bird’s work as a practical guide to foraging across Japan, with an assortment of recipes and a comprehensive glossary providing harvest details and specific geographical availability for various plants. Informative line-drawings by Paul Poynter, an illustrator based in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, complement Bird’s text, giving the book a field guild quality. But even if you’re not quite ready to trade in your shopping cart for hiking boots, Bird prods the reader to consider the philosophical underpinnings of foraging as a comprehensive way of relating to the world.