History of chicken & Yakitori

The beginning of chicken and chicken farming

How the house chicken start?

Some says, the history of chicken started in South East Asia. People started breeding a wild phasianidae bird.

When did they arrive in Japan?

Nobody knows when exactly chicken came to Japan. It can coincide with Where the Japanese people come from. One of the preaches of the route is from South East Asia → China → Korean Peninsula → Japan

Very first chicken in Japanese history.

The first chicken, which is on Japanese literature is in Kojiki and Nihonshoki, two ancient chronicles written in the 8th century. It appeared on the scene as ‘Tokoyonaga-nakidori’ to entice Susanoono-mikoto (one of the gods in Japanese myth) away from Amano-Iwato (a cave made with rocks). It was a holy animal which told people a first light from above.

Hunting chicken is recorded from around 300 AD. It was also done in some ceremonies in a old records. We could say hunting chicken was quite popular as it was forbidden in those times.

In Nara Period (710-794 AD), people were eating dried chicken as rudimentary preserved food. However, it was stopped when Buddhism came from China and issued a writ. Its also banned from eating beef and horse meat. However, the embargo was removed for chicken, as well as Japanese pheasant and birds.

The beginning of a chicken farm

The history of poultry farming is still unsure. In a old record, farmers were allowed to farm chicken and wild pigs. What more, they were farming 30 to 50 chicken, and some were selling eggs.

Origin of a word ‘Niwatori’(chicken)

House chicken was started to call ‘Niwatori’. There are 2 theories of that. One is from garden (Niwa) bird (tori). Another one is from its colour brownish-red (Niwa is red in ancient Japanese), bird (tori), as most of chicken were brownish-red colour in that time.
In Kansai area in Japan, people sometimes call chicken ‘Kashiwa’. It also has few theories where it came from. One is, because its colour evoke oak leaf. Another one is, because when a chicken flap its wings it look like when we clap our hands.

House chicken and fighting cock

House chicken was used as a time teller. First chicken’s crow at 4am, the second ones do at 5, then third chicken crow at 6am. People get up with those times to go to work.

On the other hand, fighting cocks were brought from China in Heian Period (794 – 1184 AD). Fighting cock were called‘Toriawase’in Japanese, and it is also used as a spring season word in Haiku (Japanese style poetry)

Japanese chicken has blood of Japanese pheasant, and has its own territory. Also most of those checken is monogamous, which Japanese pheasant as well. Such charactors might make them fighting-cock