The Ingie-chicken--a bird that we on the island continue to preserve.
The Preservation Society was started when Ingie-chicken was designated a natural monument of Kagoshima Prefecture. My generation must protect the culture that our Tanegashima predecessors have nurtured for more than 100 years. The society functions mainly to carefully raise Ingie-chickens and hand down this tradition to those who come after us.
The name "ingie" comes from the word "English." Approximately 120 years ago, the chickens were apparently received as a gift of gratitude from a British ship that had run aground offshore of Tanegashima. The sailors had 11 chickens that they were keeping on board for food. Since Ingie-chickens were received from the English, they took on their unique name.
They are biologically rare because their tail feathers are short, despite having a tailbone. Reportedly, Tanegashima is the only place in the world where the original breed still exists. It is an extremely precious variety. They are small and grow slowly, while their meat has a good amount of chewiness, as well as depth to its flavor. These advantages have made it a local delicacy for many long years.
At present, about 100 of the chickens have been designated natural monuments Only birds certified as excellent quality at a competitive exhibition can receive this designation. They are supplied with local water and are given feed that includes Annou sweet potatoes. When raised, we strive for an environment close to their natural surroundings and work to avoid contamination from viruses of migratory birds. We regularly sprinkle lime to help prevent disease. Although it takes extra effort to raise them well, I want to protect them as a precious treasure of Tanegashima.
■ Favorite places on Tanegashima
I moved here from Hokkaido about ten years ago. My biggest reason was surfing. For people who love surfing, I think Tanegashima is a fantastic island. So, my favorite place is the sea. Takesaki Point, near the Space Center, is a particular favorite of mine.