Yakiimo Man

Sweet Potato Variety

I lived in Japan until I was 7 years old. So many of my earliest memories are of a variety that are quite different than the average American.

For instance, that standard call of the ice-cream man/truck, was not the one i learned to yearn for. In Japan, they have no such man bearing ice-cream. Instead, there is a Yakiimo man (Pronounced: Yawkee-eemo). A man, in a truck, full of Sweet Potatoes.

(in the picture below, that is not a box in the back of his truck, but rather it is the oven in which he bakes the Yakiimo!)

yakiimo man

My brother and I used to hear the call (which was simply the man yelling out that he has yakiimo for sale), and leap from our house, and chase the man in his truck down the street at full speed.

We were hooked, junkies. Slaves of a Vegetable. Drooling over something no self-respecting American kid would ever be caught dead drooling over. And yet … I am American, I’m white, and I loved me some Yakiimo!

This nutritious vegetable provides 42 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C, 6 percent of the RDA for calcium, 10 percent of the RDA for iron, and 8 percent of the RDA for thiamine.

(Note: while I tend to think that the RDA is grossly underestimating the needs of most adults, it is still the standard reference.)

All at only about 115 to 140 calories! Not too bad.

How is it that at only 5 years old, I could be so enthralled by a vegetable? I should have NEEDED sweets, and candy, and chocolate milk. But instead it was a potato.

I propose it was simply because it was made to be fun, and I didn’t even have the option of the other stuff. My parents wouldn’t allow candy in the house, except on Halloween. And other sweets were reserved for special occasions.

More over, the fact that these potatoes were being hauled around by a crazy old Japanese guy, yelling at the top of his lungs, and forcing us to run 3 blocks to get him to stop, only added to the fun of it all.

Our children are getting fatter, unhealthier, and are being forced into a life of chronic disease. And it is our fault. We aren’t being parents if we can’t say no.

Make the sweet potato a treat, and save the ice-cream for special occasions. (this goes for both child, and parent).


One response to this post.

  1. […] many of you know, I lived in Japan for a number of years as a child (read about my odd food cravings here), and my parents lived there for close to 30 years.  I have a particular affinity for Asia.  My […]


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