The persimmon (kaki) tree is one of the best-loved plants in Japan. The leaves are dried and made into a tea that’s rich in vitamin C, various B vitamins and potassium, as well as used as a wrapper for a traditional type of sushi, the kaki-no-ha variety. The slow-growing, hard lumber is used to make furniture and decorative items, and a brown liquid extracted from unripe fruit called kakishibu is used as a wood stain and sealant, as well as for medicinal purposes. But above all, the bright orange fruits are a most welcome sight at this time of year.

Persimmon fruits are packed with vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber, and have even been used as a hangover cure. One of the best-known haiku is about eating persimmons — Shiki Masaoka’s “I bite into a persimmon / ringing bells / Horyu-ji (Kaki kueba / kane ga naru naru / Hōryū-ji), juxtaposing the sensation of biting into a ripe persimmon with the solemn sound of the bells at the famous Buddhist temple in Nara in the autumn.

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