Ravishing Radishes: 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

(image via: Genki! Seriously! Courage!)

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

(images via: Spoon & Tamago)

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.

(image via: Spoon & Tamago)

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!

(image via: Naoyoshi)

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

(images via: Gyo-Ten, Sueme Sublog and Shikoku News)

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?

(image via: Asahi Shimbun)

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.

(images via: I Became A Daily)

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”

(images via: Hiromix2004 and Monkichi64)

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.

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