Monday, December 11, 2006

Vehicle of the Week: the Yakimo truck

Some vehicles are fast. Some are sporty. Some are roomy. Some are luxurious. Some are tiny. But only one in our neighborhood can make your mouth water before it's even in sight. It's the pick-up truck that belongs to the yakiimo man.

In the bed of the truck is a wood-burning oven. No kidding--in the picture, you can see the firewood stacked next to it. The white pipe is the chimney.

Yakiimo are roasted sweet potatoes. While they get piping hot in the oven, the yakiimo man slowly cruises the neighborhood, stopping now and then to make a sale, or tend to the taters.

The first hint the yakiimo man is nearby is the distinctive cry "yaki-iiiiiiii-mooooo," delivered in a slow, deep-register sing-song. Speakers atop the truck's cab broadcast the welcome news. The second clue--if the wind is right--is the delicious aroma. C.J. can testify that I have, on occasion, altered course while out on a walk in order to intercept this vehicle.

Buy a yakiimo, and it's too hot to hold. The vendor puts it in a bag for you. A little salt, a little butter, and there's not much better, particularly on a chilly night. And the nights are starting to get chilly. So, for this week, hats off to the yakiimo truck!


George J. Downing said...


What a wonderful element of neighborhood life. In my childhood we had a number of such vendors singing out their wares, which drew members of the families to the street to take advantage. We had a huckster, who drove a special open bodied station wagon in which he displayed fresh farm produce. One fellow only came two or three times a year, selling "Clooooooos. . . props!" He made his own wooden poles to prop up clothes lines on which we dried our laundry. Today the only remnant is the jangling of the Mr. Softee ice cream truck. I guess we're too insulated in our air conditioning and televisions to enjoy these homey pleasures.

Our loss.

Love, Dad

Clayton said...

My wife and I saw this truck in the Ginza district of Tokyo on our honeymoon 2 weeks ago. We were obsessed with it, we had no idea he was selling food we just thought it was awesome! We couldn't figure out what he was doing or what the Yakimo song was all about, but to a foreigner, this was some photo worthy stuff. We even got a recording of his song so we won't forget it!


Calorus said...

I hate Sweet Potatoes - yet Yakimo and the Yakimo van are the most wonderful thing ever!

Without this site, I'd have no idea.