Japan's Deadly Poisonous Delicacy

For centuries, residents on a far-flung Japanese island have survived hardships by consuming a highly toxic plant. Now, this deadly delicacy is at risk of dying off. Eiko Kawauchi walks with a cane in one hand and an axe in the other. At 79, she may not move as quickly as she used to, but once she’s taken a seat, she can still swing an axe with the vigour of a woman half her age.

Moist-looking wood chips soon fly as Kawauchi hacks away at the trunk of a cycad tree, or sotetsu as it’s known here in Japan. She’s trying to get past its diamond-patterned flesh to the core, just as her grandparents taught her many years ago.


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