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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 12:14 GMT
Japan tries to save giant radish
By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Tokyo

Daikon (credit: Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)
Daikon are popular in Japanese cooking
A giant radish is making the Japanese evening news headlines after it was rushed into intensive care in an agricultural research centre.

The daikon radish, a staple ingredient in Japan, became an unlikely object of public admiration when it started growing through a pavement last year.

The resilient radish was then attacked last year by a mysterious assailant. The local town council has since been trying to re-grow the radish from its severed top.

It now hopes to extract its seeds or DNA.

The wilting leaves and shrivelled top of the radish were carefully packed in a cool box and accompanied by a throng of reporters and cameramen, driven to an agricultural research centre.

There, evening news programmes showed white-coated scientists pronouncing gravely on the radish's prognosis.

Roots of the drama

This unlikely drama started last summer in the town of Aoi, when residents noticed the radish pushing its way through the asphalt of a pavement.

Impressed by its perseverance, they named it Dokonjo Daikon, or the radish with fighting spirit.

Imagine their dismay then when one morning, they found the radish had been decapitated.

The news of its demise prompted an outpouring of sympathy across Japan, and the unknown assailant returned its severed head, from which the town council has been trying in vain to revive it.

Dokonjo daikon now even has its own dedicated website.

The Japanese public has frequently been touched by the plight of stricken animals. But commentators are at a loss to explain this wave of affection for a mere vegetable.

Inspired by the radish's fight for life, the town council now wants to extract seeds or even DNA from its remains in the hope of producing offspring of similar fortitude.



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