Tang-style chicken dish using young fowls was popular in the Asuka period (538-710 AD). It was regarded as a high grade delicacy among the aristocracy. Later, the monks at the Myorakuji temple1 created a dish and they cooked chicken in milk. This was called Asuka Nabe (Asuka hotpot) that became one of the local dishes in Nara.
Tang Chinese, who possessed Japanese citizenship in the Empress Suiko period (593-628 AD), spread Tang-style chicken dish using Sendori 2. This dish was regarded as a high grade delicacy among the aristocracy. Later, the monks at the Myorakuji temple created a dish and they cooked chicken in milk. This dish increased energy among the monks, who lived in the mountains, and kept them young. It also helped for their fights with the monks at the Kofukuji temple and the match-making for the women in the Asuka area.
Yamato-chicken was a reproduction of Yamatokashiwa (chicken brand). In about 1940 (the Showa 15), Nara was one of three major chicken production areas as well as Aichi and Tokushima. The researchers at the Nara Prefectural Livestock Experimental Station succeeded in reproducing Yamatokashiwa. Yamato-chicken is only locally raised chicken in Nara.
Yamato-chicken is one of high-price chicken that is hybridized with Shamo, Nagoya Cochin, and New Hampshire Chicken. Its thigh was reddish and well-muscled. It has a great texture as the more it is chewed the tastier it becomes. Its rooster looks slightly white and tender because of fat. It produces delicious gravy.
1Myorakuji Temple: It is known as Tanzan Shrine. Before the Sinbutsu Bunri movement (the anti-Buddhist movement), the site was a temple called Tonomine-myorakuji.
2Sendori: Female chicks were castrated on the 40th day after hatching and were used for dish after they grew up
Comments from the Yamato-chicken producers
Yamato-chicken is the largest of Shamo breeds and they are very aggressive.
Especially in the light, they become aggressive and easily hurt each other. Therefore, they have to keep in a dark chicken coop to reduce their stress as much as possible.
They are vulnerable and easily become sick too. It is necessary for them to be under daily supervision and closely monitored such as how they eat, drink, and roar. However, I think that Yamato-chicken is the champion of chicken due to their deliciousness and quality.
Mr. Kazuo Mozume form the Mozume Poulty Farm
- Association for the Study of Nara’s Food and Culture (2007), “Deai Yamato no Aji” (“Encounter with Yamato’s taste”), Nara Newspaper Inc., page 210. ISBN 488856065X
- Noriko, Tomioka (2005), “Yamato no Kyoudoryouri” (“Yamato’s Local Cuisine”), Nara Newspaper Inc., page59. ISBN 9784888560542
- The Rise International Co.,Ltd, “Zenkoku no Shirarezaru Kyodoryori Nara” (“Nara’s regional cuisine known nationwide ”)
Restaurants serving Yamato-chicken:
Address: 1113-3 Takabatake-cho, Nara City, 630-8301 Japan
Menu: Yamato-chicken Shabu-shabu (hot pot with thinly sliced chicken)
Address: 6-6-11 Omiyacho, Nara City, Nara, 630-8115 Japan
※Please refer to the Roots of Miwa-Somen regarding the B-grade gourmet Yanato Fried Somen.