Tag Archives: Oranges

Shizuoka Shochu Tasting: Umeera by Bandai Brewery!

This is another schochu by Bandai Brewery in Shuzenji, Izu City in the Izu Peninsula and is the more interesting for using another famous local farm product!

It was also awarded the Izu Peninsula Geopark label!

The name, “Umeera” means “very tasty”!

It is made with fresh water collected in deep sea water currents of the Izu Penisula and New Summer Ornages cultivated in Izu Prefecture!

Classified as liqueur in Japan
Rice white lees shochu, pure rice alcohol, Izu Peninsula New Summer Oranges, sugars, deep-sea fresh water
Single distilling method
Alcohol: 25~26 degrees

Clarity: very clear
Color: transparent
Aroma: dry and fruity. strong summer oranges
Body: very fluid
Taste: dry and fruity attack. Deep new Summer oranges
Lingers for quite a while on the palate with more soft of the same oranges and rice spreading over the palate.
Changes little with food if for a slightly sweeter turn.

Overall: another rare, elegant and intriguing shochu!
Drinks like a fine strong aperitif distilled alcohol or liqueur.
Very elegant liqueur, but low enough in alcohol to enjoy at ease.
Would well poured on a cassata ice cream!
Will do very with asparaguses, salads, and seafood in Western gastronomy!
Another splendid gift to offer anywhere in Japan and overseas!

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Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
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-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

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The Best Aoshima Mandarines in Japan: Mr. Kuniaki Oishi in Okabe, Fujieda City!

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Mrs. Reiko Oishi/大石礼子さん and Mr. Kuniaki Oishi/大石邦昭さん, Aoshima mandarines producers in Okabe, Fujieda City!

Shizuoka Prefecture, among other products such as green tea, wasabi, strawberries and a lot more, is celebrated all over Japan for its oranges!
The other day my good Australian friends, Nick and Yayoi Shannon, who live in Okabe, Fujieda City called me as they wanted me to meet a neighbor of theirs who had just been awarded the top prize by the Japan Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister for its Aoshima mandarines!

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The Oishi’s Farmhouse!

Interestingly enough it became a real expedition last Sunday as we were joined by another good friend, Robert Hirai, an American friend who is a photographer when not working as a navigator on ships!

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Time slip!

Mr. Kuniaki Oishi and his wife are the 7th generation of farmers living and working in the mountains of Okabe in Fujieda City, an area celebrated for its great agricultural and wild game. They also represent the 4th generation as Aoshima Mandarines growers.

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Shizuoka Governor Heita kawakatsu/川勝平太県知事 tasting Mr. Kuniaki Oishi’s Aoshima Mandarines!
The paper article mentions that they are 1,000 yen worth (10 US$!) each!

The Oishi’s being used to those foreigners living nearby readily took in their stride this invasion with great smiles and true hospitality!
Interviewing them was more a pleasurable and enriching chat than anything else.
Although he received the 2nd top accolade from Shizuoka Prefecture in 2011 and the very top national prize in 2012, Mr. Kuniaki Oshima (71) struck me with his modesty: “I can only say that I finally started to master my skills at the age of 60”! Farmers certainly could impart a lot of wisdom and humility to us city dwellers!

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The “maturing shed”!

Before visiting Mr. Oishi’s fields, we were invited to have a look inside the maturing shed!
The harvest is done in December, which meant we did not interfere too much with the grower’s work.
Mandarines are stored inside a shed to mature for two months before being marketed.
Incidentally, Aoshima mandarines are a variety born a long time ago in Shizuoka Prefecture!

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Maturing certainly requires skills and precise storing conditions.
The temperature is maintained as low as 5 degrees Celsius and a regular air circulation must be sustained throughout the whole shed where the mandarines are carefully stored in the dark.

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Moreover, the shed must be absolutely clean and dry and totally free of insects!
All the wood inside the shed is “dead”, meaning that insects will not find it amenable to their nefarious activities!
We were kindly offered to taste the mandarines out of their boxes.

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Although sweet, the balance in sweetness, acidity and “umami” was beyond words!
The Japanese, judges and growers alike, are very picky in their survey and Mr. Oishi had to satisfy no less than 12 different criteria from shape and sweetness to biting/chewing impression!
Needless to say that coming top in 6 of them, especially overall taste, helped him acquire the top reward!

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Then we all embarked in one car and a small truck for a visiting expedition of the Oishi’s fields covering one full hectare on very steep slopes over 400-meter altitude in the nearby mountains!

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On the way I noticed these electric wires to keep civets, monkeys, deer and wild boars away!

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Recently wild boars have become a real plague!
This cage trap can catch a female and at least three cubs which will be culled and have their meat distributed around!

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A very Japanese contraption consisting of one “rail” to easily carry harvest inside boxes that descend along terribly steep slopes. They have been used for quite some time now but bear in mind that people still had to walk up and down unpaved roads to reach their fields not so long ago!

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Access to the fields is done by small trucks up tortuous roads but all the work has to be done on foot!

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Although we are at an altitude of only 400 neters the landscape made the climb all the worth for it to us city dwellers!

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It’s lucky that the harvesting is done in winter as the scorching heat in summer allows work only during the first and last few hours of the day!

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For all the size of the mountains, space is limited as sun exposure is vital.
Moreover, a big difference of temperature between daytime and nighttime is the first condition for sweet fruit!

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Organic agriculture is impossible in these conditions but Kuniaki Oishi uses only the strict minimum of pesticides and fertilizers he buys from the local government agricultural offices.

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Even so it is back breaking work as the fields and trees have to be provided with mulch and protected with plastic sheets at various times of the year!
No wonder growers never get fat in this area!
And they are so fit!

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And trees have a limited life.
This twenty-year old tree with almost a ten-centimeter thick trunk will have to be cut and replaced in twenty tears time!

It certainly makes you humble to realize all the work behind those fruit we take for granted!
Mr. and Mrs Osihi, thank you so much for your hospitality, patience and great smiles!

Kuniaki Oishi
Aoshima mandarines Grower/Producer
421-1115 Fujieda City, Okabe Cho, Niufune, 192
Tel.: 054-668-0618
Mr. Oishi’s products are sold at the JA stores and other shos, as well as through a very limited private list of customers.

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Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pierre.Cuisine, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento,

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in kanzai by Nevitt Reagan!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

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
424-0202静岡市清水区興津井上町177
Tel./Fax: 054-369-2670

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Oranges in Shizuoka City

Shizuoka prefecture is not only known nationally and internationally for its tea and strawberries but also for its oranges.
We have so many here that Shizuoka City use them as ornaments!

If you walk around the moat of Sumpu Castle you will find orange trees planted in big pots along the pavement.
These oranges are winter oranges and will a couple more months to mature.
As nobody steals them, the birds usually take of them!
The same pavement is very popular with tourists and locals alike as it unveils some surprises along the way!

How about sitting and having a chat withose guys from another era? LOL

Unfortunately the present Sumpu Castle/駿府城 is only a 2-thirds replica of the grand castle which was burnt down in the 17th Century!
Incidentally, the old name of Shizuoka City wa Sumpu City!
You can also stroll inside a large park on the Castle, a great palce for relaxation.
I’ll see if I can find some fruit trees inside!

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Healthy Oranges in a Healthy Environment: Shiratori Orchard in Izu Peninsula

Healthy Oranges in a Healthy Environment!

Last Monday I somehow managed to get a full day free (and I certainly needed the whole of it!). My good friend Yasushi Imaizumi/今泉康 drove me on a grand tour of the Eastern part of Shizuoka Prefecture.
Our destination was a remote place deep south the eastern coast of Izu Peninsula.

The day was just gorgeous!
Absolutely blue skies and mild temperatures.
We just couldn’t help taking pictures of snow-capped Mount Fuji on the way!

It took us (Yasushi) three hours to drive down to Shirata/白田, near the minuscule fishing harbor of Inatori/稲取, in Kamo Gun/賀茂郡, only a short distance from Shimoda City/下田市.

There, we discovered the oranges orchard of the Shiratori Family with an incredible view over the ocean. By clear weather you can see as far as Oshima/大島 Island!

Miyoko Shiratori/白鳥美代子, a live-in student, her daughter-in-law, Hiroko/弘子, her son, Takehisa/岳寿 and her husband, Ryuusaku/龍作.

Mr. Ryuusaku Shiratori/白鳥龍作 (82), was a seventh generation of growers of rice, tea, oranges and wasabi back in Shizuoka City until he decided to move there 40 years ago to become the first of three generations of orange growers.
This must have been the right choice as he and his wife Miyoko/美代子 could pose in any magazines as models of incredibly healthy longevity!

Having bought those 2 ha of steep terrain, he had it buldozzed into shelves within three days!

I can tell you that you need good feet and good eyes to move through the orchard!

He has never looked back since then!
He is presently helped by his son Takehisa/岳寿 (54), his daughter-in-law, Hiroko/弘子 (49) and his grandson Tatsumi/達巳 (26). They also get the very much needed hands of a live-in student from Shizuoka City.

Ryuusaku Shiratori demonstrating cuttings to my friend Yasushi.

They do grow many varieties of oranges and one of them, a hybrid developed by Ryuusaku, Shiratori Hyuuga/白鳥日向 (developed from Hyuuga Natsu/日向夏 from Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu Island) has been registered with the Japanese Agriculture & Forestry Ministry!
Actually, he is quite well-known as no later than a week before a whole Tokyo HHK TV crew of 10 staff and 2 cameras spent a whole day there!

These Hyuuga Shiratori oranges are carefully pruned away to leave only the best fruit which are wrapped in paper for better fruition!

Another view of the trees!

The wrapping takes days and days!

40-years old trees! They can be harvested until the grand age of 60 years!

Trees are propagated with cuttings planted directly into the soil.
These new trees will be completely pruned for 4~5 years before harvesting the first oranges.

100% organic culture is impossible, but the Shiratoris reckon that their orchard is more than 90% organic. The second and third generations have actually been awarded the title of Ecofarmers by the Government!
Fertilizer is practically organic. You understand it when you see the beautiful grass growing between the trees.
As for pests, they use the very minimum of pesticides and introduce natural enemies of such pests such as ladybugs and other carnivorous insects!
Pollination is done either by hand, with the help of the wind, or with rented bees!

Their Shiratori Hyuuga oranges, although seedless and full of juice, will take two more months to mature to a tasty and sweet juice.


This beauty is not ready yet!

New Summer Oranges (will be mature in May!)

As I said, they grow many varieties to organize a constant harvest and delivery.
Among them Haruka/晴香, Ponkan/ポンカン, and New Summer Oranges are extremely popular.

Ponkan ready for harvest and delivery!

They do grow and experiment with other fruit such as loquats/biwa/琵琶!

Although great exposure to the sun and big differences of temperature between day and night are welcome, the wind isn’t!
To fend off the wind, Ryuusaku planted hedges of camelias/tusbaki/椿.
He likes them so much that he made a point to plant as many varieties as possible. He invited me to admire them next February!

They do also grow a lot of their own food, such as these shiitake mushrooms and string beans I was offered to take back home with a whole bunch of ponkan!

Since I have to make at least two more trips expect more pics and explanations!

Shiratori Orchard/白鳥農園
413-0304 Shizuoka Ken, Kamo Gun, Higashi izu Cho, Shirata, 1742
413-0304 静岡県賀茂郡東伊豆町白田1742
Tel./Fax: 0557-95-2083
Mobile phone: 090-7025-6659

Check their HOMEPAGE for orange varieties, prices and orders!

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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!

VARIETIES:


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.

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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/せとか

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.

HEALTH FACTS & TIPS:

-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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Warren Bobrow, Bread + Butter, Zoy Zhang, Hungry Neko, Think Twice, Frank Fariello, Mangantayon, Hapabento, Elinluv Tidbit Corner, Tokyo Terrace, Maison de Christina, Chrys Niles,Lexi, Culinary Musings, Wheeling Gourmet, Comestiblog, Chronicles Of A Curious Cook, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Palate To Pen, Yellin Yakimono Gallery, Tokyo Terrace, Hilah Cooking, More than a Mount Full, Arkonite Bento, Happy Little Bento; 5 Star Foodie; Jefferson’s Table; Oyster Culture; Gourmet Fury; Island Vittles; Good Beer & Country Boys; Rubber Slippers In Italy; Color Food daidokoro/Osaka;/a; The Witchy Kitchen; Citron Et Vanille, Lunsj Med Buffet/Estonian Gastronomy (English), Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Chrisoscope

Please check the new postings at:
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Shizuoka Agricultural Products: “Noen no Megumi” Orange Juice


The Japan Blog List

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Mikkabi area near Hamamatsu City in the estern partof Shizuoka Prefecture has been renown for its oranges, especially for a variety called “Mikkabi Aoshima Mikan”

It is always a special pleasure when you can discover them in the guise of 100% juice produced by local farmers!
Tasting notes:
Natural sweetness. Solid juice (100%). Great natural orange taste.
Both refreshing and satisfying!
Great for children and adults in summer.
Would especially recommend as dessert drink for children lunch boxes!

Noen No Megumi/Mikkabi Aoshima Mikan
Okamoto Mikan “Factory” ATA
hamamatsu City, kita Ku, Mikkabi cho, 276-1
Tel.: 053-524-4155