Ehime Prefecture is famous in Japan for its mikan (Japanese tangerine) farms, and the place in Ehime with the largest yield is the town of Yoshida, Uwajima City. For this article, I visited Yoshida’s Akamatsu Noen farm to try some mikan picking for myself.
Promising mikan picking with spectacular scenery, the Akamatsu Noen farm entrance can be found along National Route 24 between Ozu City and Uwajima City via a large sign that reads “Sightseeing Mikan Picking”.
This is the impressive scenery! Overlooking the Uwa Sea, the steep mikan-coverered hillside is painted orange by the fruit’s vibrant colors.
They grow in large, orange clusters. If you look closer, the ‘sunbathing’ mikan sparkle as they gently reflect the sun’s light and warmth.
This is Yoshida’s unshu mikan breed. Apparently, the sheen of the skin is proof of a particularly juicy and succulent fruit. It really does seem to sparkle. The deeper and stronger the color of the ruby skin, the sweeter the fruit.
One of the best points about Akamatsu Noen is that visitors can enjoy picking mikan while soaking up the great view. It’s especially relaxing to watch boats and ferries passing across the bay while enjoying a ripe, freshly picked mikan.
This is the owner of the farm. Mr. Akamatsu’s family has grown mikan trees here since the Meiji Period (1868~1912). He tells me that every “yummy!” he gets from visitors to the farm makes him want to grow more of the delicious fruit.
I tried some of the mikan and had a chat with Mr. Akamatsu on the farm’s observation deck. Apparently, Yoshida has run an agricultural experiment facility here (now a mikan research center) since the beginning of the Showa period, and through selective breeding they have managed to grow new mikan with improved flavor, sweetness, and durability. However, a mikan tree needs about ten years to get to the point where its fruit is harvestable. As people’s tastes change over time, it’s necessary to analyse the breed closely and plan the growing of new trees for the future. It’s difficult, but interesting, he says.
The farm is located on a steep, south-facing hillside with very good water drainage. I visited at the beginning of December, while the mikan were still in season. The many farmers harvest all the fruit one by one… (The picking season is usually from mid-October to the beginning of December.) The farm also has an obstacle course for kids, so the entire family can enjoy a day’s outing here. Moreover, in order to have as many people as possible come and visit, the farm also has completely flat areas where wheelchair users and the elderly can move around easily. When harvest comes around and you decide to visit southern Ehime Prefecture, stop by and try some genuine mikan picking.
Akamatsu Noen (mikan picking)
Address: 8-206, Hokezu, Yoshida, Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture
Open: 9:00 – 16:00 (Mid-October to the beginning of December)
Closed: Open throughout the season
Pricing: Adults – 600 yen (w/ 3kg souvenir bag – 1000 yen)
Children: (elementary school children & younger) – 400 yen (w/ 1kg souvenir bag – 500 yen)
※ Children under 3 – free-of-charge
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
Hironobu Matsuoka / Photo-writer Born in 1974 in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, and currently living there, Hironobu is the president of Mediapolis Inc. "I travel around the country in Solar King, an eco-camping car that has a solar power generator, and film the beautiful scenery of Japan in high-definition. I want to move around the country as much as possible and leave behind videos of precious Japanese nature and scenery for future generations to enjoy. Although I travel all over the country, I love my home area of Setouchi." 'Healing Japan TV' - Traveling virtually around the country through 'healing videos'.
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