The humble yet versatile ninjin (carrot) is thought to have arrived in Japan via China at some point in either the 16th or 17th century. The Japanese originally called it a “seri ninjin” (celery carrot) since, back then, the word “ninjin” was used to refer to ginseng root, which the carrot somewhat resembles.

However, the type of carrot that was grown here up until the Meiji Era (1868-1912) is now known as the red or Oriental carrot. Unlike its Western counterparts, the red carrot has, as its name suggests, a dark red color and is sweeter. It’s also harder to grow, which is why the orange Western types are what’s mainly consumed in Japan these days.

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