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Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima <#03> Arriving in Fukushima “peaches”

Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima
<#03> Arriving in Fukushima “peaches”

Fukushima is known as one of the fruit capitals of Japan, and peaches are especially popular. While Fukushima and Date areas are well known, Nakata visited Kori-machi where the locally grown peaches have been designated for use by the Imperial family for 25 consecutive years.

In pursuit of the ultimate peaches grown by Fukushima’s people and nature

Peach farms spread out all along Abukuma River. Minami’s farm is located within what is known as the “Peach Road” where the “Tamaki” and “Hikawa Hakuho” brands are ready to be harvested by June and early July.
Despite having visited Fukushima on numerous occasions in the past, Nakata was surprised to learn that according to data released by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture、Forestry and Fisheries released January 23 2018, Fukushima ranks 2nd in peach production.
“Why has peach production thrived so much?”
Minami explained that as the silk industry faltered following WWII, many farmers switched to producing fruit. The area around Abukuma River is blessed with rich soil and climate that is especially suitable for peach farming.
“It’s been 60 years since my grandfather began producing peaches on our family farm.”
Minami grows 16 varieties on 500 trees. There are several varieties that can be harvested between late June and September, with “Akatsuki” being the most popular.

The name “Akatsuki” derives from the “Shinobu Sanzan Akatsuki Mairi” festival at Shinobuyama Haguro Shrine in Fukushima city, and the brand was registered in 1979. While there are some deviations year to year, the peak period for harvesting is early to mid August. The fruit tends to be small, and was not shipped widely, but the local producers were drawn to its especially flavorful taste. They succeeded in creating larger fruit packed with great flavor and sweetness. It is now known as a top quality brand.
Minami told us that “It is a relatively easy variety to grow, and its appearance and texture make it perfect for gifting.”
Peaches from Kori-machi have been designated for use by the Imperial family for 25 consecutive years. Only the very highest grade “Akatsuki” peaches are chosen based on sweetness, firmness, size and color. The very best peaches are gathered from the various Peach farms, which are then narrowed down to the best of the best.
Nakata’s interest was peaked and he asked “How many of your peaches are Imperial family grade?”
“Only about 2-3% of the total harvest, so about 300.” Minami replied. He tells us that he really enjoys growing peaches, and told us about his life since the Tsunami.

Prices and sales of locally grown peaches decreased considerably following the nuclear accident in Fukushima. Wanting to regain the trust of consumers, each tree was carefully decontaminated, and trees that were weak from contamination were replaced. Finally, after 7 years, prices have recovered. Minami is encouraged by the increase in exports to Asian countries.
“It’s a sign that our efforts as farmers to provide safe and worry free products is being recognized. It brings great joy and fulfillment every time we get positive feedback from consumers.”
Seeing the joy in Minami’s expression, Nakata told him he was looking forward to enjoying this year’s “Akatsuki” as he left the farm.

ACCESS

Peach Farmer, Masahiro Minami
Kori-machi, Date-gun, Fukushima