Know Your Ishikura Onions?

Shutterstock / Irina Kononova © onions

Think of Japanese cuisine and images of sushi, seaweed and soba spring to mind. Not to mention soy: the ubiquitous bean shows up in tofu, miso and of course, sauce. But how many of us are familiar with Japanese onions? Or vegetables in general?

Though they’re not always easy to find in UK shops, traditional Asian root vegetables and greens are worth seeking out. They can make all the difference if you’re trying out Japanese recipes, bringing that authentic flavour. They’re also very nutritious.

A new initiative by Yakult is harnessing the benefits of good food, gardening and being in nature.

Drawing on research showing that gardening and being mindful of the outside is good for our health, the Grow With Yakult initiative invites people to have the chance to grow their own Japanese vegetables.

Sow good

Yakult are offering up to 10,000 people the chance to sign up to Grow with Yakult.

Each person will receive seeds for five Japanese vegetables: Ishikura Onions, Mibuna, Mizuna, Radish Mooli Minowase, Tatsoi. There’s a detailed guide on how to grow the seeds, with gardening tips.  There’s also recipe inspiration from chef Yuki Gomi on how to use the vegetables once grown.

The lucky participants will discover how to sow new plants from seeds and harvest the results – ultimately, learning how to cook with the vegetables to create delicious meals from scratch while being mindful of their wellbeing at the same time.

As the organisers say, science shows that exposure to green spaces and outdoor sunlight, including our own gardens, has proven successful at increasing our levels of Vitamin D, improving mental wellbeing reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, while also having a positive effect on stress reduction.

Plus, the benefits aren’t only for the outdoors, as science also shows that sharing your space with living plants has a positive effect on your mental wellbeing as well.

For the opportunity to sign up to join the campaign, and receive your seeds and guide, please visit

For further information, please visit, or see their Facebook or Instagram pages.

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets and eco pages, Marion covers a wide range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!