Tag Archives: Citrus

Dekopon Oranges Producer: Nobuhiko Onuma

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:
May: Flowering
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
Tel./Fax: 054-369-2670


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Japanese Citrus Fruits 1a: Oranges

Satsuma Mikan Basket

Oranges are not only one of the best sources of natural fluids/water for the human body, but its skin is also a very valuable medicinal asset (provided it is cleaned of all insectisides, wax et al!).
Naturally everyone knows about their high contents in Vitamin A beta Carotene and other irreplaceable vitamins.
Combined with other foods it can help prevent cancer like other ctrus fruits!

In Japan, depending on the season, oranges will be called natsu mikan/夏みかん/Summer oranges, haru mikan/春みかん or even fuyu mikan/冬みかん/Winter oranges and accordingly will be available im more varieties.

I will present in a separate posting called Japanese Citrus Fruits 1b: Oranges!


Unshu Mikan Cross Section

Unshu Mikan/温州みかん

The satsuma (Citrus unshiu) is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus mutant of Japanese origin introduced to the West. In Japan, it is known as mikan or formally unshu mikan (Japanese: 温州蜜柑, unshū mikan). In China, it is known as Wenzhou migan (Chinese: 温州蜜柑; pinyin: Wēnzhōu Mìgān). The Japanese name is a result of the local reading of the same characters used in the Chinese, the name meaning “Honey Citrus of Wenzhou” in both languages. It is also often known as “Seedless mandarin” (Chinese: 无核桔; pinyin: wúhé jú). The Korean name for the fruit is gyul (Korean: 귤).
Shizuoka Prefecture is a major growing region in Japan.
Depending on the growing area, they will come up with many brand names.


Valencia Orange

Also simply called “Oranges”, The Valencia Orange is an orange first created by the Californian agronomist William Wolfskill, on his farm in Santa Ana. Its name comes from the Spanish city of Valencia, widely known for its excellent orange trees. Most in Japan are imported from the US for their good value as orange juice.

Miko Orange/美娘オレンジ

Miko Orange Cross Section

A variety grown in Oita Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Miko Orange is difficult to grow and is comparatively expensive, but very juicy with a beautiful aroma.


Setoka are remarkable fortheir rich skin. That skin being thin, it ios very easy to peel. Very juicy and sweet. Slightly bigger than Unshu mikan.

Blood Orange

Blodd Oranges are called so because of the colour of their flesh.
They are particularly popular for fresh pressed juice.

Neburu/Navel oranges/ネーブル

A single mutation in 1820 in an orchard of sweet oranges planted at a monastery in Brazil yielded the navel orange, also known as the Washington, Riverside, or Bahia navel. The mutation causes the orange to develop a second orange at the base of the original fruit, opposite the stem, as a conjoined twin in a set of smaller segments embedded within the peel of the larger orange. From the outside, it looks similar to the human navel, hence its name.

Because the mutation left the fruit seedless, and therefore sterile, the only means available to cultivate more of this new variety is to graft cuttings onto other varieties of citrus tree.
Today, navel oranges continue to be produced via cutting and grafting. This does not allow for the usual selective breeding methodologies, and so not only do the navel oranges of today have exactly the same genetic makeup as the original tree, and are therefore clones, all navel oranges can be considered to be the fruit of that single nearly two hundred year-old tree.

he Japanese varieties are available around February and March, making for an invaluable late winter orange.


-Choose specimen with a uniform colour and bright colour.

-For every 100 g, oranges (enshu mikan) contain:
Energy: 46 kcal
Water: 86.2 g
Proteins: 0.7 g
Carbohydrates: 12.0 g
Potassium: 150 mg
Calcium: 21 mg
Iron: 0,2 mg
Vitamin A Beta Carotene: 1000 micrograms
Vitamin B1: 0.10 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.03 mg
Nyacin: 0.3 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.06 mg
Vitamin C: 32 mg
Dietary fibers: 1.0 g

-Combined with asparguses, or with turnips, or with beansprouts, or with potatoes, will re-inforce the digestive system, help prevent common colds, and help recover from constipation.

-Combined with broccoli, or with chingensai, or with shiitake mushrooms, or with strawberries, will help prevent cancer, obesity and common colds.

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Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi

Lime Chili Pepper Condiment: Yuzu Nanban

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sake, shochu and sushi



Many a foreigner in Japan has discovered “yuzu Koshyo”/lime salt condiment, which is also produced in Shizuoka Prefecture and other places.
But have you heard of Yuzu Naban? It is a particularly useful mixture of lime and ground chili pepper. It accompanies well almost any “ethnic cuisine” as well as nabe/Japanes pot-au feu.
The bonus is that it does include any additives, but only natural spices!
This particular one is locally produced in Iawata City, although nt always easy to find away from Westen Shizuoka.

Yuzu Nanban
Shibayuzuen Farm
Shizuoka Ken, Iwata Gun, Sakuma-cho, Sakuma, 1689
Tel.: 0539-87-1051

Agricultural Products: Banpeiyu Citrus

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(Shizuoka Shinbun, December 28th, 2007)

Shimizu ku has of recent years at the forehead of fruit development.
The latest is the largest citrus variety know in the world, which comes under the Japanes name of “晩白柚”/Banpeiyu.
Originally from Malay Peninsula, it has successfully grown in Shimizu Ku. It can reach a circumference of 65 cm and weigh as much as 3 kilogrammes!
Even so this year’s crop was comparetively small in size and volume. I wonder what would represent a good crop!