”Mou Ikko” strawberries that will make you want ”one more piece” – ”JA Miyagi Watari , strawberry farmer Seiichi Ono”

”JA Miyagi Watari , strawberry farmer Seiichi Ono”

Only producer of strawberries in Tohoku

Tochigi comes to mind when speaking about strawberry production. Indeed, Tochigi is No.1 in production volume and value. Next follows Fukuoka Prefecture, famous for ”Amaou”, and Kumamoto Prefecture, famous for ”Hinoshiduku”. Miyagi ranks No.10 in Japan (as of 2009). It may seem surprising that strawberry is ranked No.10 since the Tohoku area produces many kinds of fruits. One of the reasons for this is that the cold climate is not suitable for strawberry cultivation. Watari-cho and Yamamoto-cho are the leading areas for strawberries in Miyagi. This area didn’t really have a speciality product, and began growing strawberries about 50 years ago. Today, this is the only area producing strawberries in the Tohoku region.
A variety drawing much attention is one called ”Mou Ikko”, a brand unique to Miyagi. It is a cross between a variety from Shizuoka, and ”Sachinoka” from Saga Prefecture.

The ocean breeze makes strawberries sweet

”Sachinoka” is a variety from Saga Prefecture. If you think about the geographical features of Saga, there is a similarity in the coastline. So the variety matches the coastal climate. Its said that the ocean breeze did the trick.” said Seiichi Ono, a strawberry farmer. Miyagi’s brand ”Mou Ikko” is a variety with a pleasant balance of sweetness and tartness, and a pretty red color. The ocean breeze did the trick. Watari-cho and Saga Prefecture. They are geographically very far apart, but who would have thought a ”strawberry” connection?

I want to do this job forever.

The Watari area, where Ono owns several greenhouses, was hit hard by the Tsunami of the Great North Japan Earthquake. The flatlands near the coastline were totally ruined. Out of 230 strawberry farmers, only 60 were able to resume cultivation as of November 2012. The three greenhouses Ono owned were also washed away by the Tsunami.
He was able to build new green houses with the help of a reconstruction grant, but until then, he had to take up other jobs than farming, such as driving a taxi.
”But farming suits me. Being a ”salaryman” didn’t suit me at all. But I was thankful to have any job at that time.”, he looks back. He renewed his desire to continue as a farmer in Watari, and he is now using ”bench cultivation” where strawberries are grown in higher locations in the greenhouse. If you grow strawberries in open air, you have to bend down, so it is quite a strain on your body.
”You know, my Dad is 80 years old. He can pick strawberries though his back is bent. We want to grow strawberries together as long as possible.” he added, looking at the red ripening strawberries.


JA Miyagi Watari
36 aza Tohara, Okumatazawa, Watari-cho, Watari-gun, Miyagi
URL http://www.jawatari.or.jp/