Japan’s Weird Humanoid Daikons

One of Japan‘s favorite vegetables though it actually originated in China, the Daikon or White Radish is renowned for its mild flavor, large size and ease of cultivation. These tasty white roots have also achieved a different sort of fame owing to their odd propensity for taking on weirdly human forms. Chase down your veggies, kids, before they do the same to you!

Modesty on the Menu

People often think they see faces and figures in natural inanimate objects; it’s a phenomenon called pareidolia. You yourself are not immune, dear reader, as a casual glance at passing clouds or a piece of unevenly burnt toast will illustrate. Seeing people (or at least, torsos of people) in daikons seems to be a form of pareidolia though the daikons in question sure seem to ape us hairless apes to the point of imitating the demure pose of a young maiden.

Walk Like a Mandrake

The vast majority of daikons grow a single tapering root but from time to time and for reasons unknown, the root may become bifurcated during the growth process. Occasionally offshoots may appear symmetrically, evoking comparisons to human legs and even more rarely, arms as well.

The astonishing daikon above sports both “arms” and “legs”, gracefully tapered and ideally positioned as if the veggie was intent on escaping the cook’s cleaver. The tech-savvy farmer from Hyogo prefecture who grew this unique daikon has taken to posting posed photos of the pale beast on Twitter so the wider world can wonder about the weird ways of walking daikons.

Va-va-va Veggie!

Keiko Tanaka has likely seen much in her 74 years but odds are she never saw anything like this. Her neighbors in rural Wakayama prefecture instantly dubbed the ravishing radish “Monroe-chan” after the late and lamented American actress and sex-symbol. Tanaka appreciated the daikon’s distinctive pose but after snapping a few photos decided practicality (and family appetites) took precedence. “I expect better than ordinary radish taste surely,” said Tanaka as she chopped “Monroe-chan” into her dinner stew.

Farming by the Foot

One bifurcation and you’ve got a fairly accurate approximation of a lower torso. Multiple branching on the other hand, will give you a foot! Even carrots are affected by the phenomenon but not to the degree daikons are, perhaps because daikons grow much larger. Ain’t that a kick?

When farmers in Omachi, Nagano prefecture wanted to get a leg up on the radish harvest they didn’t mean it literally. One takes what life gives, however, and in this case life gave the farmers a 40cm (16″) long, 10cm (4″) wide foot-shaped daikon. The radish sports five “toes” with the big toe being noticeably large and rounded – as most big toes are. Curious and interesting to be sure, but if any other “human” parts crop up it might be a good idea to give the local cops a call to see if anyone’s gone missing lately.

You’d think daikons shaped like people (or parts thereof) would be old news in Japan by now but you’d be wrong – outstanding examples of radishes resembling their growers regularly make headlines and headline popular news & info TV programs. Sure it’s weird but that’s just the way nature works sometimes so why not have some fun with it?

He’s “Different”

As mentioned, the vast majority of daikons are virtually identical: similar in all dimensions and smooth-sided without any inconvenient protuberances. That’s how the farmers like ‘em and how the consumers dice ‘em. Just like in human society, however, there’s always someone who wants to stand out from the crowd and as David Niven once famously said, show off their shortcomings. Don’t be that guy… or that daikon.

Girls Girls Girls!

Have we caught this demure lass in the midst of bathing? If so, we’re not the only ones. Discovered by 68-year-old Kazuko Shimokawa as she was bringing in the radish harvest on her Ehime prefecture farm, this anthropomorphic root was donated to the City of Niihama and put on display at the city hall. “A lot of people didn’t feel like eating it because it looks like a human,” explained Shimokawa, “and besides, it’s interesting.”

Not every interesting daikon manages to escape the cookpot, though, regardless of its come-hither appeal and lasciviously long “legs”. At least the sight of a personable vegetable can cheer up the cook and add a little comedic flavor to the night’s meal.

Very Serious Eats

Why so serious? Maybe this daikon’s just thinking of something greatly important. He could be the Einstein of his species, interrupted in the midst of solving some fundamental problem that’s puzzled his kind from time immemorial… sorry about that! The Ogura family offers their farm produce for sale online though its doubtful any humanoid veggies will go onto the auction block… more like the family’s chopping block.

Funny You Don’t Look Radish

Some folks aren’t at all fazed by the sudden appearance of anthropomorphic vegetables, they take it and run with it. All well and good, but maybe posing your new Leetle Friend relaxing on benches and whatnot is going a bit far. Then again, this is Japan so there’s really no such thing as going to far.

Maybe we spoke too soon… cute or not, any humanoid daikon’s living on borrowed time and when that time is dinner time, all bets are off. So long, humanoid daikon, slice to meet ya.

Loving Couples

It’s amazing how subtle differences in the apparently random process of vegetable root bifurcation can result in startlingly male and female human vegetable analogs. Makes you wonder just how much can be attributed to pareidolia and how much to a higher – or maybe lower, as in underground – power.

Finding one pair of opposite-gender daikons is odd enough; finding them again at some other time and place? Inconceivable!

Make Love Not Soup?

Maybe those interested in boosting their libidos should give the poor tigers and rhinos a break and chow down on certain daikons instead. We can always grow more daikons… tigers and rhinos, not so much.

Is the term “vegetable p0rn” appropriate, or even acceptable when it comes to the humble white radish? Do these scandalously uninhibited vegetables have a hidden agenda, or are they innocent as the new-fallen snow? If it’s the latter, and we think it is, then any untoward impressions must solely be in the mind of the beholder.

Chair Root

Whether you’re digging or being dug, life in Japan’s farm fields is hot, backbreaking business but when the day’s done and the crops are in, it’s time to kick back and relax. Er, we meant the farmers, not the farmed but when you’re a humanoid radish being bullish is better than being a garnish.

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