I love fruit from Setouchi, and this winter there is one mikan (mandarine orange) variety in particular I have been waiting for: The Obarabeniwase. The name probably sounds unfamiliar to you, but have a look at the photos below.
The Scarlet Mandarine
The difference in color between regular mikan and the Obarabeniwase is striking. This scarlet mikan is not something you will find at your local supermarket or fruit shop. The Obarabeniwase first appeared in 1973 in the Yukihara Obara mikan orchard at the foot of the Goshikidai mountain range by the Seto Inland Sea. It was a single branch of a bud variation of the Miyagawawase, and one can only imagine Mr. Obara’s astonishment when he happened upon the one branch carrying this new, scarlet fruit.
20 Years Until Registration
The Obarabeniwase was first created in 1973, but it took until 1993 for it to be properly registered. The 20-years were spent on official testing of the fruit countless times and growing the seeds. It takes about 3-years for a mikan tree to bear fruit, and another 10 for it to develop its sweet and delicious taste. Great efforts have been made for the Obarabeniwase to become the mikan it is today.
Ingenious Orchard Features
The orchard has various features installed to help grow the mikan. In order to increase the sugar content of the fruit, the ground around the trees is covered in a layer of mulch. The mulch keeps the soil from getting too much water in particularly wet weather, and also keeps the soil hydrated through dry periods. Furthermore, the mikan are wrapped in bags to help them mature through the winter. This also helps increase the level of sweetness to 13 (the approximate equivalent to 13g of sugar per 100g). Obarabeniwase are grown with a lot of affection, and are on sale from December.
This is the Obarabeniwase. The mikan is mouth-wateringly delicious-looking! As I bite into it, the surprisingly rich sweetness is followed by a refreshing aftertaste. The Obarabeniwase is really good! My family agrees, and we quickly finish the rest!
Spreading Awareness Of The Obarabeniwase
Every now and then, the Obara orchard arranges events for local families to come and experience the various steps of mikan growing for themselves. Here are some photos from last time.
Participants can pick and pack the mikan, and even compete in a fair at the event!
It is important to consider the varying sizes of the fruit when you pack the boxes.
The well-balanced boxes are the most delicious-looking as well. Next time you go to the supermarket and see a box of mikan, take the opportunity and talk with your children about where the mikan came from and what brand they are. I hope more people will be able to experience the Obarabeniwase for themselves. Packed with vitamins, this year’s mikan are excellent for keeping colds at bay!
Fruit Shop Yamane (where I ordered my Obarabeniwase)
Address: 1-17 Hyogomachi, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture
Business hours: 10:00 – 19:00
Closed: Mondays (open everyday in July, August and December)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Sakiko Mizuguchi
Sakiko Mizuguchi I was born in 1978 and grew up in Shizuoka Prefecture. I used to work in marketing at an Internet company in Tokyo, but in 2014, when my first child reached school age, we moved to Hiroshima, my husband's hometown. We now have two children. I love camping and bonfires, Setouchi fruits and the beauty of the islands. Setouchi is rich in natural experiences and it's easy to raise children here. I spend my days enjoying life together with my children.
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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