Nobuhiko Onuma/小沼宣彦 between his daughter/睦代, and wife, Yoshiko/良子!
Dekopon (デコポン) is a seedless and very sweet citrus fruit, a hybrid between Kiyomi and ponkan (Nakano no.3), developed in Japan in 1972 starting from Kyushu Island. Originally a brand name, Dekopon has become a genericized trademark and it is used to refer to all brands of the fruit; the generic name is shiranuhi or shiranui (不知火). Dekopon is distinctive due to its sweet taste, large size and the large protruding bump on the top of the fruit.
Shizuoka prefecture has become a major producer thanks to its ideal climate.
Okitsu Mountains under a glaring sun.
I recently had the chance to make a new friend, Ms. Chikayo Onuma working as a nurse at the Shizuoka Children’s Hospital, whose parents are producers of Dekopon and other oranges in Okitsu, Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!
Her parents were very kind to accept this foreign resident to visit and interview them!
Okitsu in Shizuoka Prefecture is nationally famous for its citrus fruits thanks to an ideal sun exposure and wide differences of temperature between day and night contributing to an extraordinary sweetness of the fruit.
Unfortunately the picking season was finished but we still had a lot to talk about before moving to the Onuma’s home to have a look at their crops.
Mr. Onuma produces an annual crop of 3,000 kg of Dekopon, 1,000 kg of Aoshima (Aoshima Shutarou) Oranges, as well as Kiyomi and Suruga Elegant varieties.
A typical farmhouse in Shizuoka Prefecture!
Mr. Onuma sells some of his crop through the JA but mostly deals with a network of private customers and accepts orders through the phone/fax as long as there are any fruit left. You had better hurry as they will disappear soon!
Mr. Onuma was kind enough to prepare an explanation of the cultivation for my perusal:
July~August: Pruning and thinning the trees to keep only the best fruit. A neck braking work!
From August: regular watering
About the 20th of November: Each fruit is individually protected with a paper bag. More neck-breaking work!
From January 20th: Harvesting.
But the work is far from being finished as I will explain later!
Moreover, fungicide has to be spread 12 times a year.
Mr. Onuma told me that he keeps any such fungicide to a minimum and does not use any other agrichemicals.
More work is to come as the fruit will be stored in a dark cool shed to mature.
The fruit must attain a level of 13 on the official sweetness scale before they may be called Dekopon.
Mr. Onuma’s crop of Dekopon has been awarded the special appellation of shiranuhi (不知火) by the Prefecture, as a sure mark of its excellence!
Mr. Ozawa’ shiranuhi have even been prized in spite of the fierce competition!
Even Japanese nationals will be hard pressed to pronounce the Kanji for shiranuhi (不知火) properly!
Temperature inside the shed is strictly regulated!
And the place is also kept dark at all times!
Moreover, each fruit has to be individually wrapped in an open vinyl pouch!
I can’t start to imagine all the work and time spent!
Not to mention all the back-breaking work carrying 10 kg trays out and preparing orders!
Mr. Ozawa’s dekopon in my bento!
All this to make sure that all the fruit reach customers in the perfect state!
Thank you so much, Mr. Onuma!
Nobuhiko Onuma/小沼宣彦, Dekopon and oranges producer
424-Shizuoka City, Shimizu Ku, Okitsu Inoue Machi, 177
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