After an overnight stay at the different family-run inns, we headed to the Heda Community Center where we learned how to make tokoroten. To be honest, I did not have any idea what tokoroten is until I saw the pictures and the procedure. Tokoroten is jelly (gulaman) which is sometimes called agar-agar in my local language.
To make tokoroten, we need dried seaweed, water, and vinegar. Wash the seaweed in water and drain. Boil water with a little vinegar. Put the seaweed in the water and vinegar mixture and let it boil for about 25 minutes.
Put the gelatinous liquid in a tray to cool it down. Cut it into bars.
Cut into smaller chunks or use a special tool to make tokoroten noodles.
We seasoned our tokoroten with ichibana (a local citrus) and light-colored soy sauce (looked like patis to me hehe). I guess it can also be made sweet with sugar syrup.
The Heda Community Center people are very accommodating, and it was so much fun making tokoroten with them.
With what little Nihongo I know, I tried to converse with the awesome ladies of Heda Community Center. I think the most useful expression for me in this trip is “Isshoni sashin o tottemo ii desu ka?” which roughly translates to “May we take a picture together?” This always got a positive response. This time though I learned a trivia. Instead of saying “cheese” when taking a picture, people in Heda say “Takaashigani!” which is Nihongo for long-legged crab. Izu holds the Guiness record for crabs with the longest legs. Omoshirokatta ne!