Category Archives: Agriculture

Nashi-Japanese Pears at Ichikawa Garden in Iwata City”

Two generations of Japanese Pear growers: Takeshi and his parents, Toshiyuki and Kumiko Ichikawa/市川、利行、久美子さん!

Nashi/梨/called Japanese Pears, Nashi Pears or Sand Pears and many other names are the fruit of hot summers par excellence!
One has to bite into one of these crunchy and extremely juicy, and absolutely delicious, fruits once to understand why Nashi Pears are also venerated as the true fruits of life!

It was another blinding hot day again yesterday and I was certainly grateful for Takeshi San to come all the way to Toyoda Cho Station and then to take me all the way again to their fields and house!
The same fields are heavily protected by nets for all kinds of obvious natural reasons!

Housui Pears/豊水梨!

The Ichikawas mainly grow two varieties of nashi pear, Housui/豊水 and Kosui/辛水, the former ripening in August and September and the latter in full production right now.
Both are extremely juicy and tasty!

Hosui Pear, still comparatively small.

Kosui Pears/辛水梨!

The Kosui Pears are lighter in color wth a different skin pattern.

Growing nashi pears organically at sea level is practically impossible but all that grass proves that the Ichikiwas use only the strict minimum of pesticides! Actually, they have cut all ties with official “Agriculture Associations” so as to conduct the agriculture they think is right!

A lot of pears fall naturally and they will be included with other natural fertilizer to be mixed with the soil when they till the ground between the trees in winter.

I can assure you it is tough work to keep these orchards clean in their three locations for a total of 40 acres, what with typhoons and other unpredictable weather conditions!

For all the hard work harvesting lettuces in winter, corn in spring, pears in summer and rice in autumn, they never stop smiling!

The crop of the day!

A lot of manual and mechanical work involved!

Takeshi’s father started his orchards 30 years ago and gradually replacing all these trees takes time and care.
The above have a difference of more than 25 years! The old one is actually about to collapse!

The orchards have to be protected not only with nets against birds but also with electric wires against civets!

Takeshi san took me to another field where new trees had been planted 5 years ago and bore their first commercial crop!
A lot of investment is involved there!

These new branches will be bent down into a canopy at head level for better reach and control!

These are actually a new variety called nikkori/にっこり that matures as late as October!

You will not find the Ichikawas’ pears in any shop as they sell them only directly at their orchards or from personal order!
Even so they have a hard time satisfying all the demand. A proof of the extravagant quality!

Already all packed and ready to go!
Don’t worry, I managed to get mine!
Actually I can help you get them personally!

As any farmers worth their salt, the Ichikawas grow all kinds of vegetables for their own use and extra earnings!
I took a big batch of those beautiful okra back home!

To be continued…

ICHIKAWA GARDEN
Takeshi Ichikawa/Chouchou Farm
438-0804 Shizuoka Ken, Iwata Shi, Kamo, 200
静岡県磐田市加茂200
Tel/Fax: 0538-34-0629
Mobile: 080-1614-2271

Lettuce: October~April
Corn: June~July (May for greenhouse)
Japanese pears/nashi: August~September
Rice: Middle of September
Other vegetables (please call for more information!)
Private orders welcome!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, 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,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), 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!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Homare Fuji Sake Rice Fields Visit with Mr. Yuuji Miyata

Mr. Yuuji Miyata!

13 years ago, some enlightened individuals realized that Shizuoka Prefecture would have to produce its own sake rice, at least a part of it, for many reasons even if some of them are pointedly ignored by many…
First, the culture of sake rice (as opposite to that of edible rice) is a risky venture financially and a steady supply is fraught with unseen complications. Moreover, most of brewers outside the main sake rice producing areas have to “import” their rice from Hyogo, Hiroshima, Iwate, Niigata and other faraway Prefectures.
Moreover, whatever some brewers might tell you when questioned in front of witnesses, the quality of such imported rice cannot be fully insured.

Mr. Muramatsu’s Homare Fuji paddies (30 acres) in Naka Shinden, Yaizu City.

The only solution is to try and grow your own sake rice locally!
In 1998, under the auspices of the JA research was initiated on the culture of the Yamada Nishiki Sake Rice strain, considered as the best by many, in the Iwata Agricultural Research Center.
7 years later, 1n 2005, the cultivation was started in earnest in privately-owned fields under the guidance of such specialists such Mr. Miyata.

The rice stalks grow a lot thicker and nearer to each other than normal rice.

The Yaizu Sake Rice Research Association grouping 15 farmers grows more than 60% of this Yamada Nishiki Sake Rice under the name of Homare Fuji Sake Rice. Actually the same Association grows Homare Fuji Rice on 10.3 ha, Yamada Nishiki Rice on 5.6ha and Gohyakumangoku Rice on on 4.7 ha.
Homare Fuji Rice is presently grown by 31 farmers in 7 distinct areas across the whole Prefecture.
Moreover, 20 out 28 breweries presently produce some of their sake with Homare Fuji Sake Rice up to Junmai Ginjyou level.

Mr. Yuuji Miyata with Mr. Hiromi Ikegaya of the JA Ooigawa

It has become serious business as from this year the Yaizu JA Agricultural Association (governmental) will assume the responsibility for the sales of Homare Fuji Sake Rice grown in the Yaizu City area!

The personal help of Mr. Ryohei Miyake of the Shizuoka Prefecture Shida Haibara Agriculture & Forestry Bureau was certainly welcome to deal with all these farmers and JA representatives!
Messrs. Miyake and Miyata were kind enough to pick me up at Fujieda Station and take care of me for the whole day!
They took me to 3 different paddies including that of Mr. Muramatsu mentioned above and introduced me to the JA Ooigawa Representative and other personalities of the business!

In every paddy Mr. Miyata took out a rice stalk to painstakingly open it with his nails to show me the grains already developed inside and to tell me thus exactly when the rice would appear and would be harvested by the day!

The second paddy was that of Mr. Matsumura (20 acres), Higashi Mashizu, Yaizu City, where planting and harvesting events are regularly held!

Homare Fuji Sake Rice has two big qualities:
its stalks are shorter and harder and will not break under heavy winds, even those of typhoons. Moreover, their rice contains a lot less proteins than others, which allows for an exceptional maturing of sake!

Yaizu soil is of two types whether the fields are on the former bed of Ooigawa River with a high concentration of sand like the above-mentioned two paddies or of a clay type if closer to the mountains. Naturally the soil quality has to be taken in account for each paddy!

The Homare Fuji Rice stalks are comparatively short (25 cm shorter that those of Yamada Nishiki) , but the proportion of the leaves and bottom stalks (“saya”) are longer and the very foot (“fushi”) shorter and thicker.

The third paddy I was taken to is the “heart of the Homare Fuji Sake Rice” as Mr. Toshirhiro Umehara has taken charge of growing the rice for the grains only to be re-planted elsewhere for the last 3 years!

This 30-acre paddy is located in Hirajima in Fujieda City!

The grains will appear in about 10 days and the rice will be harvested in October!

This is rural Japan!

The men behind our regional sake, Mr. Yuuji Miyata and Mr. Toshihiro Umehara!

This is what is going to grow into full-fledged rice thanks to these farmers and later become the nectar of Japan (and Shizuoka Prefecture) thanks to our brewers!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, 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,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), 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!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Shizuoka Agriculture: Akihiro Matsushita: Organic Sake Rice Grower in Fujieda City!

Akihiro Matsushita/松下明弘, Yuuji Miyata/宮田祐二 and Densaburou Aoshima/青島傳三郎!

Akihiro Matsushita is a true pioneer!
No less than 17 years ago he decided to grow all his rice organically, a revolution at the time that did not please many people in the very closed world of Japanese farming!
Fortunately things have changed since then…

15 years ago Akihiro contacted Densaburou (Sake Brewmaster’s name) Aoshima of Aoshima Sake Brewery in Fujieda City to aks him if he would be interested in creating sake with truly organic rice. Densaburou is also a true pioneer in his own closed Japanese sake world who gladly accepted the challenge.
And it certainly was a challenge!

Aoshima Brewery in Fujieda City! Kikuyoi/喜久酔 is their main brand name!

I’ve known Densaburou for quite some time now, and the fact he speaks fluent English does help when I introduce him to foreign fans of his nectars!

Yuuji Miyata/宮田祐二, Ryohei Miyake/三宅良平 and Densaburou Aoshima/青島傳三郎
Whatever the occasion, this is Japan, and nothing will start before business cards have been exchanged!

The fact I know quite a lot of people in the Japanese sake world in Shizuoka Prefecture even helps with my Japanese friends and colleagues.
Before meeting Akihiro Matsushita in his farm, Yuuji Miyamata, the man in charge of the development of Homare Fuji Sake Rice in Yaizu City and Ryohei Miyake, an official from the Shida Haibara Agriculture and Forestry Bureau joined me to visit Densaburou at his brewery as we were all going together to Akihiro’s place. Densaburou does not use the Homare Fuji Sake Rice in his brews but he entertains warm relations with all people concerned with the sake business in his region.

Akihiro is a shy gentleman who will nonetheless quickly open and talk passionately about his trade.
And you certainly need to be passionate and extremely knowledgeable to convince people in one of the most conservative regions of Japan!

Keeping his own fields separated from non-organic growers is no longer a problem, but it was open conflict when he started his venture. He does not remember how many times he had to clean his own fields of mountains of rubbish thrown into them during the night…
But since then Akihiro has been recognized and accepted as a true grower as amply proved by his JAS Organic Grower Recognition and his Shida EM Organic Agriculture Association Chairmanship!

Not only his fields, but surrounding areas have to be kept clean of any chemicals and unwanted materials.
Even so, rice growing within a few meters of the perimeter of his fields will not be sold or used!

Yamada Nishiki, the most famous sake rice variety in Japan! The grains will appear end of August!
The soil being part of the Ooigawa River bed is sandy. The same sand is river sand formed by the constant rubbing of stones.

A single look at the water and soil will tell you this is organic environment with all these bugs and snails!
Akihiro and Densaburou had once thought of ducks to keep their fields clean of bugs. Unfortunately the local stray cats put an end to the trials!

Although Mr. Miyata’s field is not concerned with Yamada Nishiki Sake Rice, his expertise is always welcome!

Akihiro’s fields of organic sake rice and those or normal edible organic rice occupy a lot of land here and there. I asked him if he would be interested in exporting some. He replied that he wouldn’t have enough land to do so! An unequivocal proof of his peers’ and customers’ recognition!

Everyone soon forgot me so passionate their discussions had become!

For all his extremely busy life, Akihiro still finds enough time for constant research: organic black rice!

This passion and thirst for new solutions just proves that Japan and its people, for all the cataclysms that regularly visit them, might bend now and again but will never break like the stalks of their rice!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

My White Kitchen, 47 Japanese Farms Through The Eyes of Its Rural Communities, 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,Adventures in Bento Making, American Bent, Beanbento, Bento No, Bento Wo Tsukurimashou, Cooking Cute, Eula, Hapabento , Happy Bento, Jacki’s Bento Blog, Kitchen Cow, Leggo My Obento, Le Petit Journal Bento & CO (French), Lunch In A Box,
Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, The Herbed Kitchen, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Cooking Cute, Timeless Gourmet, Bento Bug, Ideal Meal, Bentosaurus, Mr. Foodie (London/UK), 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!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery