Home Podcasts Japan Station Jidori and the Chicken Industry in Japan (Dr. Benjamin Schrager) | | Japan Station 35

Jidori and the Chicken Industry in Japan (Dr. Benjamin Schrager) | | Japan Station 35

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On This Episode of Japan Station

On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, we’re exploring the history of chicken production in Japan and the fascinating world of artisan jidori chicken.

About Dr. Benjamin Schrager

Dr. Benjamin Schrager is an expert on Japanese food systems and heritage cuisine. He completed his PhD at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2019. His doctoral dissertation–titled Placing Trust: The Political Ecology of Chicken Meat in Japan–focused on the Japanese chicken industry and jidori chicken, with particular emphasis on the Miyazaki Jitokko brand of jidori. Currently, Dr. Schrager is a postdoctoral researcher at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Agriculture.

Topics Discussed

  • What broiler chicken is and what Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) jidori chicken is
  • Chicken Nanban and its origins
  • The many regulations that the Japanese government has implemented to determine what qulifies as JAS jidori chicken
  • The Onagadaori breed of chicken and its incredibly long tail
  • The Tennen Kinenbutsu (Natural Monument) standard
  • How Miyazaki Jitokko compares in terms of its standards to that of other brands of JAS jidori
  • The problems jidori breeders face
  • A brief overlook of the history of chicken breeding in Japan
  • The connection between samurai and chicken breeding
  • What a Native Heirloom Breed is
  • The industrialization of chicken breeding in Japan
  • The introduction of Western chicken breeds into Japan in the 1960s
  • The phenomenon of regional cuisines and specialties in Japan
  • Meeting Emperor Akihito
  • The Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship
  • Chicken sashimi from Miyazaki
  • Health concerns over chicken
  • The experience of talking to Japanese men taking part in a cooking class
  • The difficulty explaining the difference between jidori and broiler chicken to the average person
  • The various meanings of the word jidori
  • Tsukada Nojo
  • Jidori in Hawaii
  • Sumibiyaki chicken
  • And much more!

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Links, Videos, Etc.

Here is the Wasabi magazine article that was based in part on this interview.

Here is the video series about Miyazaki Jitokko that Dr. Schrager mentions during this episode.

  • Miyazaki Jitokko Tsukada Nojo Miyazaki Branch

  • Miyazaki Jitokko Igokochiya Yamadi Izakaya

  • Miyazaki Jitokko Yamada Farm

  • Miyazaki Jitokko Kumatabara Farm

  • Miyazaki Jitokko Hyakushōmura Farm

  • Miyazaki Jitokko Ramen “Guu” + Gnarly

To find out more about the University of Hawaii’s Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship, visit the page below.

And just in case you’re curious about the kanji for jidori, it is written as 地鶏 in Japanese. When written by itself 地 is pronounced as chi. The character roughly means “place.” 鶏 on the other hand, can be read as tori or niwatori and means “chicken.” The word was in usage long before the Japanese government adopted it in 1999 and its meaning can vary significantly depending on the region/context in which it is used. For example, it can be used to refer to any locally produced chicken even if it does not adhere to the Japanese Agricultural Standard set by the Japanese government. It can even be used to refer to old and tough chicken or wild chickens.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi)
To listen to more of Yunomi’s music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Images: Courtesy of Benjamin Schrager. Image shows Benjamin Schrager holding a Natural Monument Jitokko.

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Full Show Notes

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