Mikan: Japan's Favorite Citrus Fruit *RERUN
The district of Maana in Ehime Prefecture is a leading center for mikan cultivation. Mikan is the Japanese name for the fruit Citrus unshiu, a type of mandarin, which is popular among Japanese people for its health benefits and sweet, fruity taste. The Maana mikan are known for a delicate balance between sweetness and tanginess. In Maana, around 180 farming families grow mikan. All of the farmers produce the same high-quality mikan which is known under the Maana Brand.

3 Suns in the Mikan Orchards

Today, all of the slopes are covered with mikan orchards, but the scene was once very different. Local people first tried to build fields on the steep slopes around 300 years ago. However, because of poor soil, only a few crops such as sweet potato and wheat could grow. Mikan was first introduced to the area around 120 years ago. The terraced fields cultivated by previous generations proved useful. The slopes facing west get plenty of sunshine, and the sunlight also reflects from the sea and from the stone walls. This is why locals say there are 3 suns.

Mikan Harvest Brings People Together

Many young people come to Maana to live and work for a month as seasonal laborers in November, when the mikan harvest season is at its height. 200 people applied for the 150 available places this year. For a month, the workers stay at farmers' houses like a family. The day starts at 6 o'clock in the morning. Fruit picking lasts until 4 in the afternoon, and then the picked fruit needs to be sorted. The one month in Maana is a break from the usual routine. The mikan harvest brings people together.

Mikan: Source of Vitality

For centuries, locals have believed mikan have anti-aging and life-extending properties. Every year in December, there is a ceremony called O-mikan-yaki, meaning roasting mikan, held at a shrine in Kagawa Prefecture, which neighbors Ehime. At the ceremony, charms and votive tablets used over the past year are burnt, and mikan are roasted in the flames. Tradition has it that eating one of the roasted mikan keeps you free from sickness and trouble for a whole year. Mikan is a source of vitality in Japan.