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It is generally believed that the home of the ume (Japanese apricot) is China. Accepted theory also holds that it was introduced to Japan during or slightly before the Nara period (710-794). It was first introduced as a medicine made from the fruits of the ume. After that, the ume tree was transplanted to Japan and it spread rapidly throughout the country.

In the middle of the Heian period (794-1192), the umeboshi appeared in writing for the first time. It was written that Emperor Murakami recovered from illness using umeboshi. However, the umeboshi of those times was different from that of today, that is, it was just salted.

In the Kamakura period (1192-1333), the samurai began using the umeboshi as an antidote and then in the Muromachi period (1338-1573) as an appetite stimulant. In the Sengoku period (the warrior age: late Muromachi period), it was still used only as medicine, not as a food. When a samurai dying from war wounds was shown an umeboshi, it would revive him by making him salivate. For samurai in battle, the umeboshi was extremely important.

Early in the Edo period (1867-1911), umeboshi became a commonly used medicine and health food. Once, when an infectious disease spread throughout the country, large quantities of umeboshi were sent from the region where they were made.

Umeboshi has become an important part of Japanese life. Today, as many Japanese people travel overseas, we have come to value umeboshi more. In fact, many Japanese travelers overseas carry umeboshi with them, in case they become homesick for the taste of Japanese food or if they should fall ill.