Japanese gentian grower hopes business will bloom in winter

HACHIMANTAI, Jan. 10 ― Gentian, a brilliant blue flower, grows best in sunny conditions. But Ayumi Miyano, a 36-year-old gentian grower, has tried her luck and experimented with the herb, finding a way to keep her business going even in the freezing temperature in winter. Miyano and her 10 part-time female workers make products, such as candle and herbarium, out of the herb in Hachimantai, Iwate prefecture, known for its gentian-growing region in Japan. They cut the plant when the flowers are just beginning to open and then hang them up for some time. “I’m hoping this can be a place for us to survive in winter,” Miyano smiles.

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Welcoming the year of the pig with susuki grass in Shizuoka

KAKEGAWA, Jan. 5 ― Japanese tea growers have welcomed the year of the pig in the Chinese zodiac calendar with a giant pig made of “susuki” pampas grass. A group of about 20 tea growers installed the 5-meter-long and 3.5-meter-high pig shaped object at the top of Mt. Awagatake in Kakegawa, Shizuoka prefecture. They used 500 kilograms of silver-colored susuki pampas grass, which is also known as “chagusa,” used for tea cultivation providing natural fertilizer in Shizuoka, a main producer of Japanese green tea.

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[Our Noh no Ikebana] “Let’s celebrate the joy of the new year with colorful, happy display,” says Keiko Sato, 74, from Mamurogawa Town, Yamagata Prefecture

“I saw the photos of Noh no Ikebana on the Japan Agricultural News and thought I want to do it myself. Then I began in 2012. I often use vegetable flowers. My favorite ones are flowers of Chinese chives. Looking at the white, small, and cute flowers, many blooming all together, makes me feel happy and calm. I also love the interesting look of their buds, which look like the heads of snakes. We seldom see vegetable flowers in supermarkets. So, we farmers are lucky to have and enjoy looking at them. When I find good-looking vegetables, plants and flowers, I took them home for my display at home entrance. … Continue reading

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Japan’s meat imports in 2018 likely surge to record levels

TOKYO, Dec. 30 ― Japanese farmers have faced an influx of cheap meat imports, as the country’s imports of red meat and poultry were set another new record volume in 2018, government data has showed. And that was even before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the U.S., known as TPP-11, entered into force on Dec. 3o, 2018, suggesting the landmark trade pact would have knock-on effects for Japanese farming business, industry officials pointed out. Japanese meat imports totaled 1.92 million metric tons in the first 11 months through November 2018, which was 1 percent more than the same period a year ago, according to the finance ministry. The 2017 full-year … Continue reading

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JA ZEN-NOH invests in Japanese brown rice startup

TOKYO, Dec. 21 ― Japan’s largest farmers’ group has invested in Yuwaeru Co. Ltd., a Tokyo-based startup that specializes in manufacturing prepackaged brown rice, continuing its aggressive move to seek out growth business. JA ZEN-NOH, the National Federation of Agriculture Cooperative Associations, the marketing arm of JA group, said on Dec. 20 that it acquired an undisclosed stake in Yuwaeru through a third-party allocation of newly issued shares. The equity investment took place in November 2018, enabling JA group to push for sales of Japanese-grown brown rice at home and abroad. Brown rice is known as a superfood owing to its multitude of nutritional benefits. That makes it a healthier … Continue reading

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