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Western Japan farmer keeps traditional method for 'aged' mandarin oranges alive

Mandarin oranges, commonly known in Japan as mikan, are seen in storage drawers in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, in this recent photo. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

ASUKA, Nara -- A local farmer in this western Japan village is keeping himself busy as the shipping period for "kuradashi (out of storage) mikan" mandarin oranges -- which are stored for a few months to enhance their sweetness -- hits its peak.

Masami Koda, 70, a farmer in the village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture, stores roughly 8 metric tons worth of mikan, all picked by the end of 2019, in four storage units. The storage buildings each have multiple rooms and drawers, with 10-plus kilograms of mikan kept in each drawer.

When mikans are "aged" for one to three months, they lose excess water and become sweeter.

According to Koda, nearly 20 farms in the village used this storage method about 40 years ago, but as it takes time and effort, now only some continue to do it. He said, "I hope people will enjoy the sweetness of these mikan made with this unique method."

(Japanese original by Naohiro Yamada, Osaka Photo Department)

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