TOPICS December 2023

Friendship between Shikoku and Akita with Jakoten

In October, the Governor of Akita Prefecture, northern Japan, said in a meeting in his prefecture, “Food on the Shikoku Island, including four prefectures of Ehime, Kagawa, Tokushima, and Kochi, is bad. When I went there recently to attend the national meeting of prefecture governors, I thought the main dish was a good steak, but it turned out to be a jakoten. It was shabby. The sake there was not good, either.” Jakoten is a flat fried fish sausage, an Ehime specialty. In response to the criticism from both Shikoku and Akita, he sent a letter of apology to the four governors of the Shikoku area. The four governors accepted his apology and proposed a joint event to promote their specialty products.

On November 15, they held the event in front of JR Yurakucho Station in Tokyo. They sold Nakayoshi Set (friendship set), an assortment of specialties from the five prefectures, including jakoten from Ehime, freshly picked olives from Kagawa, Tokushima ramen from Tokushima, yuzu-citrus sauce, from Kochi, and kiritampo, pounded rice on a skewer, from Akita. There were only 50 sets, and they sold out before the sale started. At the beginning of the event, the governor of Akita apologized again saying, “I am shamed by the generosity of the people of Shikoku.” The governor of Ehime replied, “Please don’t take it too seriously. It’s mutual publicity, and the result is good.”

(November 17, Ehime Shimbun)


Ehime FC Won J3, and Promoted to J2

Ehime FC won the championship of the Meiji Yasuda J3 League, and is now head to J2 League. On November 11, they beat FC Imabari by 1-0, became the champions and clinched their promotion to J2 league next season.

FC Ehime started the season with a rough 5-1 loss in the opener. After the opening game, they went on a nine-match win streak. They
reached first place in July. At the game on the 11th, 11,128 supporters attended the game to cheer them on, the second highest number at a home game.

The team consists of mainly players in their 20’s. Coach Ishimaru said that there was still room for improvement, and they are not satisfied with the promotion, and are hungry to win at J2 league next season.

(November 14, Asahi Shimbun Digital)


Artificial Limbs for Pets

A prosthetist and orthotist established a shop in Matsuyama that specializes in artificial limbs for pets. When Mr. Takushi was 20 years old, his left leg was amputated below the knee in a motorbike accident. After a prosthetist made an artificial leg for him, he became eager to help people, too. At the age of 23, he entered a vocational school in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture for making prosthetic legs, where he mastered the prosthetic technique. He has been making prosthetics for people for 21 years as the representative of the Matsuyama Prosthetics Manufacturing Co. Ltd. He emphasizes the need to sympathize with the emotional pain of each client. Many people who lose a limb during their life experience a great sense of loss and anxiety, but by acquiring a prosthetic limb, they gradually find hope.

The process for making prosthetics for pets is the same as for humans. However, animals have a lot of fur and thin legs, and they don’t sit still. Above all, they can’t talk so it is difficult to know what is best for them. Still, he persevered and continued researching and making adjustments. He has worked on 13 artificial legs for pets so far and received good reports, saying the pets can spend longer times outside with their owners.

(November 12, Ehime Shimbun)


Ishizuchi Wins 1st Place in Japanese Sake Competition

Ishizuchi Junmai Ginjo Yamada Nishiki 50 sake produced by Ishizuchi Shuzo (Saijo City) was awarded Top of the Best (first place) in the Japan Women’s Sake Award by 81 female judges from Japan and abroad.

The company also won a gold medal in the Rich & Umami category for its Ishizuchi Junmai Ginjo Bizen Omachi 50. Yamatan Masamune Shizuku Hime Junmai Ginjo from Yagi Shuzo-bu (Imabari City) also won a gold medal in the Light & Dry category. Three products from the two companies in the prefecture received awards, demonstrating the capabilities of Ehime’s breweries. The gold award is ranked second only to first place, and multiple winners can be selected.

The competition was held for the first time by the Association of Women Who Love Japanese Sake and Wine. A total of 146 companies with 317 products from Japan and Taiwan entered the competition. In general, entries are often divided into categories such as Ginjo and Daiginjo, but in this competition, the entries were divided into six categories based on flavor and characteristics such as Fruity and Low Alcohol.

(November 6, Ehime Shimbun Online)

Further information:

Rice grains are polished before being used in sake production because the outer layers of the grains create undesirable flavors in the end product.

Ginjo: grain size has been reduced by at least 40 percent after polishing.

Daiginjo: grain size has been reduced by at least 50 percent after polishing.

Ginjo and Daiginjo are both the most flavorful types of premium sake and very rich in character.


Increased Mandarin Production through Information Technology

Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) Nishiuwa Maana Citrus Cooperative Sorting Committee (Yawatahama City) and Internet Initiative Japan (telecommunications company, Tokyo) are promoting a project in the Maana district of the city where unshu mikan orange cultivation is thriving. In the project, they measure soil moisture levels in mandarin orchards using sensors and analyze the data to optimize irrigation timing to increase yield.

The area is known for the premium branded mandarin Maana Mikan, which is cultivated on approximately 240 hectares of hilly land near the sea. Although Maana Mikan has a favorable reputation in the market, the yield has not kept up with demand. The project was selected as part of the Digital Implementation Acceleration Project named Triangle Ehime, which uses digital technology to solve problems within the prefecture since 2022 with the goal of increasing production.

When cultivating mikan oranges, reducing water leads to an increase in sugar content in the fruit, but too little water causes leaf drop and a decrease in yield. Mild stress, which means applying moderate water stress, is important for producing delicious mandarins. Some farmers manage soil moisture by laying sheets in the orchards to prevent rainwater from seeping in.

The area has been extremely arid this year due to low rainfall since September, so watering is being done by using sprinklers at night once every four days. Using a drip irrigation to provide nutrients and water, combined with the ground sheets enables some farmers to consistently produce high-quality mandarins.

In the district’s trial project that started in October, 120 sensors were buried 20 to 30 centimeters deep in the soil of the mandarin orchards to measure moisture levels. Data recorded every 30 minutes is transmitted via base stations installed at seven locations in the orchards and can be monitored on a computer or smartphone.

In the orchards, the soil moisture level varies depending on the location. Irrigation timing used to rely largely on each farmer’s experience and intuition but can now be determined by measured data.

At a local press briefing held on October 26, Toru Saito of Internet Initiative said, “Visualizing moisture levels is important. We expect this will lead to an increase in yield.” Additionally, sensors that measure rainfall and temperature, as well as detect the capture of harmful birds and animals in traps, can be installed through the base stations, allowing remote monitoring.

Hiramasa Nakai (55), head of the Maana Sorting Committee, is enthusiastic about the project and stated, “Farmers are getting older, so we want to produce high-quality mandarins while saving labor and maintaining the local industry.”

(November 3, Yomiuri Shimbun Online)


Iyotetsu’s Introduction of IC Cards

Iyotetsu Group, located in Matsuyama, will introduce the use of 10 kinds of rechargeable transportation cards to their train, bus, and airport limousine bus in March 2024.

An IC card and a smart phone installed with the apps for “ICOCA” issued by JR-West, “SUICA” issued by JR-East, “PASMO” used widely for subways and private railroads in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, and some more cards will be accepted to pay the fare. However, an IC card can be neither purchased nor charged.

Mr. Ichiro Shimizu, President of the Iyotetsu group, commented that they had decided to introduce the system for the convenience of the passengers, even though it will be a heavy financial burden with the investment and the maintenance fees of the system.

The “IC E-card” issued by and only for Iyotetsu services can still be used. According to the group, there are only a few prefectures, including Ehime, where the rechargeable transportation card cannot be used, which often confuses visitors from outside Ehime.

The fares for Iyotetsu services have risen since October. They will continue improving convenience, and accelerate cashless payment.

(November1, Asahi Shimbun Digital)

Previous article

HAIKU December 2023

Next article

FESTIVALS December 2023