14 March, 2016

Citrus varieties in Japan

Today is a miserable cold and wet day in Tokyo. I'm going to try to cheer myself up by writing about something that is a bright light in the winter season here: citrus fruit. I've been gathering photos through the winter to add to this post, but I haven't managed to get all of them.


Known in Australia as mandarin and by a variety of other names across the world. These are the most common citrus fruit in winter in Japan. The ones sold in shops are generally seedless. Our boys didn't like the seeded ones available in Australia.


Mikan (mandarin) on the left, iyōkan on the right for a
size comparison.
Three of us love the Iyōkan, it is like a big version of a mikan. You peel it and eat segments like the mikan. The skin and fibres around the segments are a little tougher than a mikan. The taste is often not quite as sweet as a mikan, maybe more a cross between an orange and a grapefruit.

"The iyōkan, also known as anadomikan and Gokaku no Iyokan, is a Japanese citrus fruit, similar in appearance to a mandarin orange. It is the second most widely produced citrus fruit in Japan after the satsuma mandarin." Wikipedia
Kinkan These are tiny and not super common. This webpage tells me
they're grown in Kyushu and are eaten with the skin on.

Sadly Sequola is a US company. In this case,
they're shipping fruit to us all the way from the other side of the Pacific.

Hassaku. Similar to an orange, but more a grapefruit size and tartness.

Orange you know. Interestingly it isn't the most prominent of fruits in Japan. Probably because not many are grown here. Orange juice is very common.


"An oroblanco, oro blanco or sweetie is a sweet seedless citrus hybrid fruit similar to grapefruit. It is often referred to as oroblanco grapefruit." Wikipedia


"The yuzu is a citrus fruit and plant originating in East Asia. It is believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda." Wikipedia. 
I took a bath with a bunch of these during our camping trip in November. In Japan, bathing with yuzu on Tōji, the winter solstice, is a custom that dates to at least the early 18th century. Whole yuzu fruits are floated in the hot water of the bath, sometimes enclosed in a cloth bag, releasing their aroma. The fruit may also be cut in half, allowing the citrus juice to mingle with the bathwater. The yuzu bath, known commonly as yuzuyu, but also as yuzuburo, is said to guard against colds, treat the roughness of skin, warm the body, and relax the mind. 

Dekopon apparently the third most grown citrus fruit in Japan."Dekopon is a seedless and sweet variety of
mandarin orange. It is a hybrid between Kiyomi
and ponkan, developed in Japan in 1972." Wikipedia
These are fairly common, though our local grocery store hasn't had them as regularly as I've seen them in previous years. You can buy "white" and "ruby" fleshed ones.

The juice is more common than the actual fruit, though they aren't hard to get a hold of.

I've rarely seen, though I'm rarely looking for one.

There are fruits I miss from Australia when I'm here (like mangoes and seedless sultana grapes) and fruits I miss from Japan when I'm in Australia (like Iyokan, seedless mikan, nashi [Japanese pears], and kaki [persimmon]). I try to buy the fruit that is in season (and cheap) and as usual we try to enjoy what we have where we are, rather than yearn for what we don't have.

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