“It’s said that mikan faming began more than 400 years ago in this area. In the 1970’s, about 3.6 million tons of mikan was produced nationwide. There were about 500 mikan farms in Arida alone. But over production caused prices to decline, and different citrus fruits were imported from other countries, further adding to the decline in production, bringing us to our current harvest of about 700,000 to 800,000 tons. It’s only about 20% of our peak.” (Shingo Akitake, Sowa Kajuen Chairman)
As business dwindled, 7 progressive farmers came together in 1979, founding “Sowa Kyosenkumiai” which later became “Sowa Kajuen”. Initially, mikan was grown in greenhouses, to be used for gifting in the summer. In 2000, the group incorporated to become Sowa Kajuen, and in 2005, it became a publicly traded company. Along the way, premium mikan juice “Aji Ichi Shibori (currently “Aji Koi Shibori”)” was created.
“When we first made the juice, a sales rep from a department store tasted it and said it was unlike any other juice he had tasted. He recommended us to price it high, selling it at 1260 yen for a 720ml bottle. We were doubtful that a juice that cost more than some liquor would sell, but our test products ended up selling one after another. First it became popular in Tokyo, and gradually spread to our region.”
Sowa Kajuen incorporates “marudori” system using light sensors to select the fruit, and detailed moisture and fertility control to maintain consistent quality. They also use the latest technology such as cloud based cultivation and drones to maintain the land. In addition to growing the best tasting mikan, a lot of effort was put into developing a product that made the most of the delicious mikan fruit. Using a “chopper pulper method” where fruit is softened using steam then hand peeled, the distinct taste and texture of fresh fruit is evident in the processed products.
There’s a reason it’s so delicious.
Front left & center: Aji Ichi gelee (currently sold as “Kajuen no Nameraka Mikan Gelee”)
Front right: Ougon Jam (currently sold as “Kajuen no Nameraka Mikan Jam”)
Center left: Aji Koi Shibori (180ml)
Center middle: Aji Maro Shibori (180ml)
Center fight: Nomu Mikan (180ml)
Back left: Mikapon (360ml)
Back right: Ofukuro Smoothie (170g)
- Sowa Kajuen K.K.
- 275-1 Shinmachi, Miyahara-cho, Arida-shi, Wakayama
- URL https://shop.nihonmono.jp/collections/producer-9