Japan’s Ehime prefecture, in the northwest quarter of Shikoku and many smaller islands in the Seto Inland Sea, is a breathtaking prefecture known for its “onsen” (hot springs) and citrus fruit production. It’s also home to Mount Ishizuchi, a sacred mountain and the tallest peak in western Japan.
Ehime’s official mascot is a dog named Mikyan whose face is literally an orange, representing the region’s main export. Like most things produced in Japan, Ehime’s oranges are grown with love, care and pride.
“We call ourselves the Oranges Kingdom, or ‘the best place for oranges’,” said Naoki Saito, chief director of the sports and culture department at the Ehime prefectural government.
As many as 40 different types of mandarin oranges are grown in Ehime besides the prefecture’s two original orange species. Around 210,000 tonnes of oranges are exported annually from the prefecture, according to data compiled by All Nippon Airways’ (ANA) regional vitalisation project, “Tastes of Japan by ANA”.
Although Ehime is Japan’s top citrus fruit producer, not much of the fruit made its way to Malaysia previously due to the lack of a trade agreement: “However, we started exporting (more) to Malaysia starting February this year. And in December, you’ll see the Beni Madonna — our own species of orange — in Malaysian supermarkets,” Saito said.
Exports from the prefecture are mainly shipped to Malaysia through Khaishen Trading Sdn Bhd, he added. As of March this year, Ehime exported about 10 tonnes of the fruits to Malaysia. Ehime’s oranges are also exported to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Macau, Canada, Cambodia and the European Union.