Shimeba: extracting juice from sugar cane

Shimeba(It literally means "squeezing place"): Squeezing the juice out of sugar cane

In December, the sugar cane harvested and taken to a factory is pressed and squeezed by machines. The place where we squeeze the sugar cane is called a "Shimeba".

Until 1949 or 1950, sugar cane was squeezed by stone roller and pulled and turned by cows. Nowadays this process is conducted by machines.

As squeezing out juice using cows was such a time and labor consuming process, we could not obtain enough manpower at one time. Therefore, we asked people from mountain areas to come and work during the winter season. Those people were called "Shimeko(people in charge of squeezing)". Even now, the squeezing job is done by "Shimekos", who come in December every year.

Unless we squeeze the harvested sugar cane by February, it will go bad. In the past, therefore, people used to work from very early in the morning till late at night.

With the introduction of machines for squeezing sugar cane, we do not need to work until late at night any more. However, starting early in the morning has remained a custom. Although "Shimekos" begin work later than in the past, they still get up and start to work at around 4 o'clock in the morning. They finish earlier nowadays, and closing time is noon.

In the picture above, sugar cane is squeezed by a machine. We can see how thin the sugar cane is.

The squeezed juice goes to the tank sitting next to it and is moved to "Kamaba" through a pipe. The dregs are used as feed for cows or as fertilizer since they contain much fiber and sugar.

  • Back to the top page of the process of making Wasanbon toh
  • Shimeba 1. Extracting juice from sugar cane
  • Kamaba 2. Aragama: removing the bitterness
  • Kamaba 3. Sumashioke: removing mud and sand
  • Kamaba 4. Nakagama, Agegama, Hiyashi-gama: boiling down and cooling
  • Kamaba 5. Hiyashi-kame: cooling, crystalization
  • Seihoba 6. Aragake: separating syrup from sugar(first time)
  • Seihoba 7. Togi: refining sugar by separating the syrup repeatedly
  • Seihoba 8. crushing and drying