Unshu Mikan (Unshu or Unshiu mandarin orange) (ウンシュウミカン)
Unshu Mikan (Scientific name: Citrus unshiu) is a kind of mandarin orange and evergreen bush belonging to the Rutaceae family. Or its fruits. There are many cultivated varieties and their fruits are edible.
It is one of the most popular fruits in Japan and the scene of family members getting together around the kotatsu (coverlet covered table with heater) eating mikan on the table becomes one of the typical images of a family happily spending time together in winter. When it is simply called "mikan," it usually means unshu mikan.
Its is described as "蜜柑" (honey citrus) in Chinese characters as it is sweet. Though characters read "Mikkan" in olden times, the first syllable was clipped.
The name "Satsuma" or "Mikan" is more common in Europe and America.
Unshu mikan is closely-related to the Tangerine (enTangerine) and Mandarin orange (enMandarin orange)(the scientific names for both of them is Citrus reticulata), however, unshu mikan belongs to different species.
Japanese appellation Unshu mikan was named by the Japanese local reading of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China known for its citrus production. However, unshu mikan is presumed indigent of Japan. It is generally considered to be indigent of Kagoshima Prefecture.
Unshu mikan grows south of the Kanto region where the climate is mild. It grows in a warm and mild climate, however, it is comparatively resistant to cold among citrus varieties. White flower of about 3 cm with five petals blooms in the first 10 to 20 days in May on Bengal quince generally used as rootstocks for grafting in Japan which grows to 2 to 4m in height.
Its spheroid fruits of 5 to 7.5 cm mature from September to December depending upon cultivars, and the color changes from green to orange yellow. Generally, it has less pollen, however, due to its parthenocarpy, it bears fruit without pollination. Although it is self-reliant, it is hard for it to bear seeds by pollination and usually becomes seedless due to strong female sterility. However, as the late blooming brand has weaker female sterility, it sometimes bears seeds when sources of pollen such as 'Amanatsu' (a kind of Chinese citrus) are near. When it bears seeds, they are polyembryonic and it is rare that the hybridized embryo grows. Almost always nucellus derived from nucellar cells grow. Thus it bears clones which have the same trait with the mother (nucellar seedlings) by seed propagation. In Japan, however, usually mikan is bred by grafting due to the improved breeding efficiency, the shortened time for fruiting, easy tree strength control and the improved fruit quality and so on. In many cases, Bengal quince is generally used as rootstock, however, other citrus such as yuzu orange are sometimes used instead.
Gokuwase Unshu (literally, super grown early unshu)
It harvest from September to October.
It was researched and bred in order to reduce the oil consumed in greenhouse culture after the Oil Shock in the '70s
Miyamoto Wase (Wase means to grow early)
It is a bud mutation of Miyakawa-wase found by Yoshitsugu MIYAMOTO of Shimotsu Town, (today's Kainan City,) Wakayama Prefecture in 1967, and it was registered as a new variety in 1981. The fruit is flattened and high-yielding. It matures earlier than Miyakawa-wase by 2 to 3 weeks.
Nichinan 1 Go (Nichinan 1st or Number 1)
It is a bud mutation of Okitsu-wase found by Akio NODA of Nichinan City, Miyazaki Prefecture in 1978, and was registered as a new variety in 1989. The force of its growth is rather strong and its fruit has soft carpels.
Recently, a new variety "Nichinan-wase"--the other name, 'Hina no hime' (Miyazaki princess) is a registered trade name of Miyakonojo Daido Seika KK Company (registered on March 18, 2008)--was born as a bud mutant of Nichinan 1 Go,
This is prevailing as a super grown early cultivar that is possible to harvest from the latter part of August.
This is a bud mutation of Okitsu-wase found by Denichi IWASAKI of Saikai-cho, Nishisonogi District, (today's Saikai City,) Nagasaki Prefecture in 1968. It is one of the earliest harvested cultivar even among the super grow early varieties.
This is a bud mutation of Miyakawa-wase found by Hisahiko UENO of Hamatama-machi, Higashimatsuura District, (today's Karatsu City,) Saga Prefecture in 1970, and was registered as a new variety in 1985. Its harvest is later than others as it takes longer to lessen the sour taste than other 'wase' cultivars, however to the contrary, when acid is attenuated, an improved taste is retained longer. And ukikawa (fruit puffing symptoms) occurs less..
Its harvest is from October to December. As this cultivar's price setting is comparatively higher than 'Nakate' (intermediate between 'wase', early-grown cultivar and 'okute,' late grown cultivar) and Futsu-unshu (literally, ordinary unshu), some switch to this cultivar from them in some regions.
In 1925, Chozaburo TANAKA announced that a bud mutation was found at the residence of Kenkichi MIYAGAWA at Jonai-mura Village, Yamato District, (today's Yanagawa City), Fukuoka Prefecture around 1910. It has been grown country wide since as it had superior characteristics, it is easy to grow and the yield was good. Even today it is a major cultivar among wase unshu and widely grown in green houses.
It was selected from nucellar seedlings, made by pollination of Bengal quince to Miyakawa wase at the Horticultural Experiment Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (today's Department of Citrus Research, National Institute of Fruit Tree Science, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization), in 1940, and it was registered as a variety in 1963. It colors earlier than miyakawa wase by about one week and its sugar content is high. It is a typical wase unshu together with miyakawa wase.
It is harvested from November to December.
It is an inherited cultivar of the one found at the farm of Mr. Fujinaka who lived in Yoshihama, Yugawara-machi, Kanagawa Prefecture during the early Showa era, and today, it is grown mainly in Yugawara-machi and Odawara City as an intermediate cultivar shipped between early grown mikan and late grown mikan.
Nankan 20 Go
It is an inherited cultivar of the one found in the orchard of Tatsuo IMASHIRO of Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture in 1926. It is named after Nanyo Citrus Branch (today's Nanyo Branch of Ehime Fruit Tree Experiment Station) where this variety was selected as a superior lineage. It is a representative cultivar among 'nakate unshu' and is a main product of Ehime Prefecture, especially in the Nanyo area.
It was selected from nucellar seedlings, made by pollinization of Joppa orange to Nagahashi unshu at the Horticultural Experiment Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and it was registered as a variety in 1971. The force of its growth is strong and its fruit grows larger. It is also used as canned mikan.
It was selected from nucellar seedlings, made by pollinization of the Torovita orange to Sugiyama unshu at the Horticultural Experiment Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and it was registered as a variety in 1971. Its fruit has less 'ukikawa' (see above) and its sugar content is high with lower acid. Its characteristics are effective in the Setouchi area where has less rain fall, and it is widely grown mainly in Hiroshima Prefecture.
It was selected from nucellar seedlings, made by pollinization of Parson Brown to Nankan 20 Go at Ehime Fruit Tree Experiment Station in 1973, and it was registered as a variety in 1994. It colors earlier than Nankan 20 Go by about one week and its sugar content is high.
It is a bud mutation of Miyakawa-wase found by Hirofumi MORITA of Nanayama Village, Higashimatsuura District (today's Karatsu City,) Saga Prefecture, and was registered as a new variety in 1980. The surface of the fruit is very smooth and sometime it is compared to a tomato.
Futsu Unshu (literally, ordinary unshu)
It is harvested from January onwards. Those varieties shipped especially later such as Aoshima Unshu and Juman Unshu are distinctively included in the late blooming brands as Okute unshu.
This is a bud mutation found by Heiju AOSHIMA of Shizuoka City, Shuziuoka Prefecture in 1978.
Its fruit grows large and is less likely to have 'ukikawa' (see above.)
It is one of the representative brands of high sugar content cultivars and is able to maintain longer preservation. It is widely grown especially in Shizuoka Prefecture as a main brand.
Otsu 4 Go (Number 4)
This is from the line selected from nucellar seedlings from the pollination of Ponkan orange to mother Juman unshu, made by Sukeo OTSU of Yugawara-machi, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1964.
It was registered in 1977 (among Nos. 1 to 20, No.4 bore fruit the earliest and had good flavor and was therefore registered.)
It is a rather early maturing cultivar as a futsu unshu, and the fruit is large and flattened.
Just the same as Aoshima unshu it is also one of the representative brands of high sugar content cultivars
Mikan other than 4 go, 5 go, 8 go, and 20 go are being grown in their home town Yugawara, however, it is difficult to distinguish them by their appearance and they are called by collective term Otsu mikan.
It was found in the orchard of Yoshitaro IMAMURA in Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture. Although the fruit is richly flavored and has good storage quality, the force of its growth is strong and the fructification is unstable and is is said to be a cultivar difficult to grow.
It was found in the orchard of Yoshifumi JUMAN in Sanna Village, Kami District, (today's Konan City,) Kochi Prefecture. It has good storage quality and is possible to ship until the end of March. It is grown mainly in Tokushima Prefecture.
It was selected from nucellar seedlings of Nyu line Unshu at Wakayama Prefecture Fruit Tree Experiment Station (currently Fruit Tree Experiment Station, Wakayama Research Center of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) and it was registered as a new variety in 1986. It matures earlier than Nyu line unshu by about 2 weeks.
It was found at the Aoshima unshu tree of Jutaro YAMADA in Nishiurakuzura, Numazu City in the spring of 1975. It is a small sized type mikan mainly of M and S size, and smaller than Aoshima unshu. Its rind is rather thick among unshu mikan and it keeps well. Sugar content is high enough more than 12 degrees and also richly-flavored and it is a promising brand. Recently, limitation time of protection and development of the production area expired, and the embargo of the production in other area was lifted.
It used to be the most consumed fruit in Japan, however, according to family budget research made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the purchase volume of mikans per household was left behind by bananas and dropped down to No.2 from the top position.
Wakayama Prefecture and Ehime Prefecture are competing for the top position in production volume of unshu mikan and Shizuoka Prefecture follows. Major production centers are mostly coastal areas alongside the Setouchi Inland Sea and Pacific coast.
Recently, mikan is available all through the year with the development of preservation technologies as well as the prevalence of the 'house mikan,' cultivated in plastic greenhouses or hothouses.
Overseas, mikan is also grown in Spain, Turkey, Cheju Island in the Republic of Korea and so on.
Yielding (Fiscal Year 2007)
Total for the entire country: 1.066 million tons (Decrease by 66 thousands tons compared to FY 2005)
185.4 thousands tons in Wakayama Prefecture (Penetration in Japan Approximately 17%)
168.3 thousands tones for Ehime Prefecture (Approx. 16%)
146.2 thousands tons for Shizuoka Prefecture (Approx. 14%)
Ehime prefecture had kept the number one position in total shipment volume for 34 consecutive years since 1970, however, Wakayama Prefecture traded places with Ehime and became number one for 4 consecutive years since Fiscal Year 2004. The reasons were that mikan trees close to seashore were hit by typhoons and died of brine damage and farmers grew different crops in place of mikan.
Unshu mikan has the remarkable trait of biennial bearing in which a high yielding year and low yielding year came one after the other. Due to this trait, it became a custom that when statistical comparison is made, the figures used are compared to those of 2 years before.
As for the three major production centers of mikan, there is a game of rhyming to remember, "Ai wa shizukani" (which literally means something like 'Gently when you love.')
"Ai" indicates "Ehime" (the first word for Ehime reads Ai when described in Chinese characters), "Wa" does Wakayama and "Shizuka" does Shizuoka Prefecture.
In the Fiscal Year 2006, mikan crops were lower by 1 million tons after 43 years since 1963. The reasons were little sunlight after flower blooming and little rain in the summertime, and as a result, the fruit could not grow sufficiently. Ironically, it seems that mikan shipped in fiscal year 2006 were sweeter and more tasty than those of an average year.
The northern limit of mikan growing is said to be "when the average temperature of the coldest month is over 5 degrees Celsius." Although up until now, northern limit of commercial growing of mikan was said to be Kanagawa and Chiba Prefectures, 1 ton of a Wase cultivar, "Okitsu wase" and so on were shipped by farms in Sadogashima Island, Niigata Prefecture in December 2007 and it was in the news. Some pointed out that it was an effect of global warming.
It is the most popular brand of Wakayama Prefecture grown in the Arita-gawa River basin. There are high-grade articles, "Shindo mikan," "Tamura mikan" and so on among them.
This is a mikan brand grown in Tanabe City and its vicinity municipalities, in Wakayama Prefecture. There is a high-grade article "Obo mikan."
As high-grade articles, "Hinomaru" and "Maana" are grown. Although not Unshu mikan, "Iyokan" (Citrus Iyo) is famous country wide.
This is a Mikan brand grown in greenhouses in Aichi Prefecture. They have similar cultivar "Mihamakko" mikan in Aich Prefecture.
"Kawachi Mikan" and "Sankaku Mikan" are famous among them. In Kumamoto Prefecture, they grow many cultivars of mikan by taking advantage of the mild hillside climate. Although not unshu mikan, Decopon (Tangerine) that Kumamoto Prefecture Fruit Association has a registered trade name for is famous.
Mikkabi Mikan and so on are famous. There is also a high-grade article, "Mika Ace."
It is a high-grade article grown in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is to read "Ocho Mikan."
It is mainly grown in Osakishimo-jima Island, Osaki-kamishima Island and Toyo-shima Island (Hiroshima Prefecture.)
Other than this, they grow Hiroshima mikan and Innoshima mikan in Hiroshima Prefecture.
With its mild climate and hot spring area, Yugawara is not only a growing area of citrus but also a consuming area, and there are many farmers who grow more than several dozen cultivars in one orchard to retail the products throughout the year. Although it is not a unshu mikan, Golden Orange is the most popular cultivar in this area.
With its mild climate and famous growing regions of Saikai and Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture is one of the major citrus production area. There is a famous 'Ajikko' brand mikan in Sasebo unshu of the Saikai region, and 'Dejima no hana,' the highest authority amongst them is guaranteed 14 degrees of sugar content.
Importation of Citrus
It is said that origin of citrus was about 30 million years ago in Assam Province of Northeast India, and it became differentiated in many species and dispersed to Myanmar, Kingdom of Thailand and China and so on. In China, they grew many citrus since ancient time and it was described in the historical record "Spring and Autumn of Master Yan," which is said to have been completed during the Warring States Period (China,) when "mandarin orange changed to a trifoliata orange." This is an aphorism showing that the original trait of something can be changed according to the growing environment.
In Japan, there was the Tachibana orange (Citrus tachibana) on the Japanese islands and Shikwasa (Hirami lemon) on Okinawa Island. In Chinese historical records, "Gishi wajin den" (the first written record of Japan's commerce) that described third century Japan, there was an entry that "there are ginger, Tachibana orange, sansho (Japanese pepper) and Japanese ginger, however, it is thought that they did not eat them."
The first entry about citrus in Japanese historical records appeared in the "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and the "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan) that "Tajimamori who was ordered by Emperor Suinin to visit Tokoyo no kuni (parallel universe beyond the sea) brought back tokijikuno kakunomi (cracker berry) fruit and branch (snip) the fruit is today's 'Tachibana' (the translation of Nihonshoki.)
The 'Tachibana' here is said to be Tachibana orange, bitter orange or small mikan (Yatsushiro mikan,) however, this is not certain.
After that, many types of citrus such as Chinese oranges and koji (citrus, thin skin mandarin oranges) were imported from China, however, they were mainly used as medicine rather than for food.
Citrus prevailed widely in Japan as Mikan was Kishu Mikan. There are many assumptions about the origin that small citrus unshu of China was imported to Yatushiro, Higo Province (today's Yatsushiro City, Kumamoto Prefecture) about 800 years ago and planted in Arida, Kishu (today's Arida District, Wakayama Prefecture) and thus named as "Kishu" because it grew to be a big industry there, and other assumptions say that citrus unshu (mikan) grew wild in Kishu and so on. A story about a wealthy merchant Bunzaemon KINOKUNIYA of the Edo period who brought Kishu mikan to Edo where the price for mikan were skyrocketing and made a fortune is famous. It is said that during the early Edo period when Ieyasu TOKUGAWA retired to Sunpu-jo Castle, he was given Kishu mikan (hon mikan, namely true mikan) from Kishu, and the mikan tree he planted there became the origin of mikan in the Shizuoka region.
Unshu mikan was called "Nagashima mikan" or "Tau mikan" at first, however, its seedless trait was hated at the time of samurai rule as ill-omened, and was scarcely grown. However, with the tasty and easy-to-eat seedless trait, it began to be grown widely from the later Edo period, and it gradually replaced Kishu mikan during the Meiji era. The name "Unshu mikan" also became common during this time.
Doctor of Agriculture, Chozaburo TANAKA advocated that origin of Citrus Unshu was Nagashima, Kagoshima Prefecture (today's Nagashima Town, Izumi District, Kagoshima Prefecture) through literature research and field study, and as the estimated age of a tree 300-year-old was found in 1936 (withered away during the Pacific War), no doubt have influenced this theory. The found tree was grafted and the original tree was thought to be generated 400 to 500 years ago. It is said that it was result of a mutation of citrus imported from China, and although the parents are not known, recent researches on genome show that its structure is similar to Citrus nobilis Lour.
The Growth of Cultivation
With the beginning of the Meiji era, not to speak of Arida, Kishu where mikan cultivation was active, the cultivation of unshu mikan gained momentum in Shizuoka and Ehime Prefectures and so on. Market competition began in accordance with the expansion of production areas, and improvement of cultivation techniques and rationalization of management had been tried. Starting with the seedling exports to Florida, USA, it began to export unshu mikan to North America and Korea and oversea deployment started in full swing. In the early Showa era, the growth of the citrus market reached its first peak with cultivation of Chinese citron and navel oranges imported from the USA.
When the Pacific War broke out, the total cultivation area of citrus decreased due to expansion of food production, and orchards were ruined because of the shortages of materials and workforce. Decrease of the total cultivation area continued for a while even during the recovery period after the war as priority was given to the solution of food shortage, however, it increased after a few years and its area recovered to pre-war levels in 1952.
The cultivation of mikan rode the wave of high economic growth and production soared. With the increase of fruit consumption caused by the booming recovery after the war, unshu mikan was traded at high prices and some people called it "yellow diamond." After 1960, mikan was produced excessively country wide under the encouragement of administration and the total yield was beyond the planned figure in the good harvest year of 1968. Although it became a state of overproduction around this time, production increase continued and finally the price tumbled in 1972 due to the high yield and the commencement of import liberalization of grape fruits in this year. In 1975 when yields reached its peak, total production was 3.665 million tons which was 8 times the production volume just after the war.
In addition to excessive production, strongly required import quotas increased for orange by the U.S. from 1970s, the government changed its policy to decrease production. The government's policy also prompted crop changeover, and while the total cultivation area of unshu mikan decreased year after year, that of other citrus increased.
Amid the Japan-US trade conflicts from the '80s, import liberalization of orange started in 1991. The strong yen accelerated the above and while the orange imports increased, the export of mikan mainly to North America ceased and mikan cultivation was in a state of crisis. To cope with this crisis, each production area tried to adjust the yield, improve the quality, change crops to higher priced 'wase' early grown cultivar and the price of unshu mikan temporally increased. However, mikan cultivation in Japan has had many problems to date such as difficulty of finding successors of farms, diversification of fruit consumption and so on.
They have tried to widen sales channels to overseas recently, and export started to Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Taiwan other than to major importing areas like North America. Japanese mikan enjoy higher reputations compared to those from other countries such as China.
As been said "mikan is good for the prevention of colds," because of it's rich content of vitamin C and synephrine. Also, mikan is rich in vitamin A, citric acid, and dietary fiber. The white lines out of carpels contain hesperidin and it is said that this is effective against hardening of the arteries and cholesteremia.
And the flesh of the fruits has much more provitamin A compound, beta-cryptoxanthin than other citrus. It has been reported that mikans also have strong anti-carcinogenic properties by co-research group of Fruit Tree Experiment Station (currently National Institute of Fruit Tree Science) and Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, and has been attracting attention recently.
As the orange coloring matter carotenoid dyes fat, skin will become yellowish when mikan is eaten too much. This is called aurantiasis cutis. The symptom of aurantiasis cutis is temporary and it is harmless to health.
Taste of mikan depends upon the contents of sugar and acid and their balance, and the thickness of carpel. Although high sugar content is important, volume of acid also determines its taste.
It is usually eaten raw and some people eat segments with carpels and others do without them. And some people peel the rind from the hull and others do it from the navel, or use knife.
How to distinguish tasty mikan from appearance: (1) Rind is tight
(2) Mikan that has flattened shape
(3) Mikan that oil glands are small and numerous
(4) Mikan that is fresh and bright color
and so on.
Depending on the region such as Hokuriku, Tohoku or Kyushu, mikan is eaten after roasting it, calling it 'roasted mikan.'
They are sometimes eaten frozen, or floated on bath water or processed in many different ways to meet a particular usage. About 20% of total production is used for juice or canned food.
It is eaten as is, or used as topping for cakes.
Juice: (Particularly inexpensive concentrated juice is often made with imported mikan from China)
Other than a beverage, it is used for cream and so on.
Mainly rind part of the fruit is used. Well-washed rind, chopped into pieces, roast the chips to dry, and then dredge them with sugar.
Unshu mikan is consumed as a diet food: As it is introduced on TV, an unshu mikan diet has been attracting attention recently. A mikan diet is based on scientific verification to a certain degree, and it is thought that some effect is expected depending upon the individuals.
Pectin, a dietary fiber contained in mikan, is said to regulate the functions of the intestines, and it also disturbs the work of a digestive enzyme, lipase in pancreatic fluid. Taking it before a meal prevents one from absorbing fat contained in food. More pectin is contained in carpel (white skin between rind and flesh) than in the flesh so, it is beneficial to eat mikan without peeling the carpel.
Further, synephrine works on adrenaline receptor and promotes fat decomposition and heat generation, and thus, is high effective in reducing body fat. As synephrine is contained much in unripe green fruit, it is said to be good to eat an immature one.
However, these things do not immediately mean unshu mikan have superior dietary benefits. Although these benefits are expected by eating the fruit, it has calories and only eating mikan does not simply mean better dieting. Although supplements of synephrine extracted from mikan are available on the market that promote dietary benefits, one should be careful as risks of synephrine when taking it at the same time with other irritants such as caffeine, or catechin and so on, are being pointed out.
A chart that showed mikan and their blood sugar level controlling effect was presented in a TV program, "Hakkutsu! Aru Aru Daijiten II (Encyclopedia of Living)," aired on October 22, 2006 which highly touted mikan diet, however, it turned out later that the chart was falsified. Actual results showed no remarkable changes in blood sugar level and some people are still doubtful of the effect of a mikan diet.
In Chinese medicine, dried rind of unripe mikan is called 'seihi' and that of ripen mikan is called 'chinpi' and both of them are used as medicine.
Chinpi is also used as an ingredient of shichimi togarashi (a mixture of red cayenne pepper and other aromatic spices.)
As mikan is classified as a food that warms body in the traditional Chinese medical science "Chuigaku," it is recognized as a food to avoid when you have caught a cold..
Essential oil is used for aromatherapy.
Research on the effects of anti-obesity medicine and anti-obesity aspects of food made of carpels is in progress (patent publication number 2005-040107.)
The dots called oil glands on the surface of the rind contain an ingredient called limonene, and it is attracting attention as a solvent that can dissolve plastics.
Children's Play That Uses Mikan
Mikan juice can be used as an invisible ink. In particular, mikan is easily available in winter, the invisible ink is sometimes used for New Year's cards. There is a play to push out the oil of the skin of mikan to the candle light by folding mikan skin to enjoy watching the changing color of the flame.
Crafts That Use Mikan
As it is easy to peel off the skin of mikan, the skin can easily be cut into intended patterns such as shapes of animals. A typical one is an "Octopus with 8 legs."
Mikan and Wakayama Prefecture
They have cultivated mikan since olden times in Wakayama Prefecture (story of a wealthy merchant Bunzaemon KINOKUNIYA of the Edo period who brought Kishu mikan to Edo where the price of mikan was high and made a fortune is aforementioned.)
Thus there were products and characters of which the motif were mikans in the prefecture.
Among the mikan-related products in Wakayama Prefecture, Arita mikan is famous all over the country, however, within the prefecture," Join Juice" is also famous (Commercial message is only for Kinki region and people outside do not know about it.)
It is a commercial product of Wakayama Prefectural Federation of Agricultural Co-Operatives and is sold at Agricultural Cooperative shops and so on.
Mikan and Ehime Prefecture
Ehime Prefecture has remained number one in the production volume of mikan for a long time, thus mikan and related products appear in many aspects. The prefectural flower is mikan and the flag of the prefecture is featuring the flower of the mikan.
The mikan is often used as a character, or for motifs, the mascot character of the soccer team Ehime FC is a mikan and their symbolic color of their uniform is orange. And the Ehime Mandarin Pirates of the Shikoku-Kyushu Island Baseball League does the same.
A well known joke about mikan is that "In Ehime Prefecture, Pom Juice (a product name for mikan juice) flows out when you turn on a faucet in Ehime Prefecture." The manufacturer of Pom Juice, Ehime Inryo took advantage of this joke and tailored a "Talked-about tap of Pom juice campaign" and produced faucets that delivered Pom juice at their direct sales shop in Imabari City and Matsuyama Airport for a limited period. As this was popular, they place the faucet at the terminal building of Matsuyama Airport on every third Sunday from June 2008.
(It is planned to stay up until March 2009.)
It is said they serve "mikan rice or akebono meshi" (literally dawn's rice) as school lunch in some parts of Ehime Prefecture. Recipe is the same as ordinary takikomi gohan (mixed rice), however, instead of ordinary dashi broth, they use Pom Juice instead.
When it comes to mikan juice in Ehime, you cannot beat the aforementioned Pom Juice, however, 'Mutenka' (No additives) bottled by each farmer was introduced in magazines and on TV and became a hot item in catalog sales.
In Ehime Prefecture, they tailored a campaign for mikan using the title "Ambassador Iyokan" (for all the citrus fruits) every year. The Ambassadors are selected every year from the public and travel around the country engaging in public relations for Ehime mikan. This campaign has been continuing since 1959.
Mikan and Shizuoka Prefecture
Mikan dates back to before the Nara period, however, for eating raw as a food, it is said the tree as the origin that, in early Edo period when Ieyasu TOKUGAWA retired to Sunpu-jo Castle, Kishu presented him a Kishu Mikan tree and Ieyasu planted it. The mikan tree is preserved in Sunpu-jo Castle (Sunpu Park) as "The mikan tree planted by Ieyasu."
The first unshu mikan was said to be those planted in Okabe-cho, Shida District, Shizuoka Prefecture from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century (the middle of Edo era.)
Mikkabi mikan gives the impression that it is planted in the western part of Shizuoka Prefecture where ex-Mikkabi-cho existed, however, it is also grown in the middle and eastern part and thus the entire Shizuoka Prefecture.
As Shizuoka is one of the major mikan production areas, there are many firms and organization that use the color orange as their symbolic color.
Symbol color of Shimizu S-PULSE. Orange Tour of Shizuoka Railway Co.,LTD. Line color of Tokaido Main Line. It originates the coach color of JNR/JR Commuter Trains Series 80 and its successor, Shonan Trains.
The view is that the colors were inspired from the specialty of Shizuoka, mikan and tea (although some say it came from the colors of mikan farms.)
As a matter of fact, the coach colors were taken from the trains of Great Northern Railways of the U.S.A, and the above view was an ad hoc one and incorrect.
Episodes About Mikan in Other Places
They are growing unshu mikan in the state of Alabama and the state of Florida for a long time, and there are towns with the local name for unshu mikan, "Satsuma."
Mikan is called "Christmas Orange" in Canada and loved widely as a seasonal tradition that tells winter has come.
A character appeared called Mikan-Seijin (mikan alien) made by computer graphics in a TV program for children, "Ugo Ugo Ruga" (Fuji Television Network.)
It's surrealism gained popularity and character-related items such as screen savers were sold. Later, it was revived in a TV program for children, "Gacha Gacha Pon!" and digital magazine "Weekly Shonen Takeshi Magazine" at Fuji Television's web site and so on.
A character of SAN-X CO., LTD., Mikan Bouya (Orange Boy) was used as a member of poster child "Furu-che mates" for "Furu-che" of House Foods Corporation from 2003 to 2006.
A girl named Mikan GIBOSHI appeared in a cartoon, "This Is the Police Box in Front of Kameari Park, Katsushika Ward."
Mikan and Music
The most popular song related to mikan is "Mikan no hana saku oka "(Hill of Tangerine Blossoms) that was produced just after the war in 1946. Although it was a quickly made song, it was a big hit in public relations and later it has been sung as a nursery rhyme to date. The stage of the song was Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture.
In recent years, a heavy metal band, Sex Machineguns sung out their feelings on Ehime mikan titled as "The song of mikan" in 1996.
In 2006, a single CD of a band called GTP's "Frozen mikan" had success mainly in Shizuoka Prefecture and along with CD sales, actual frozen mikan's sales increased.
There is a 'Rakugo' comic monologue story titled "Senryo Mikan" (very expensive mikan) in which a person seeks mikan in the off months of mid summer.
Mikan easily becomes rotten, and besides, they are usually packed in boxes, thus if one mikan goes bad, the other mikans also go bad. (similar to the metaphor of the one bad apple story)
This story is sometimes used as a metaphor as only one person can spoil all the others and that they used it in an episode of TV show "San Nen B Gumi Kinpachi Sensei (Master Kinpachi, Junior High school Third Year, Class B) is well-known.
There was an episode of Cao Cao and Zuo Ci over Koji (a sort of citrus) in the Chinese book, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms." Mitsuteru YOKOYAMA described this fruits as "Unshu Mikan" in his cartoon or Manga, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," however, correctly it is a Koji of Wenzhou, China and not Unshu mikan.
Its flower language is "Virginity, Joy of a Bride and Purity"