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Japan Photo Journal: Pink light behind 'umami'-rich tomatoes

(Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

Tomato greenhouses surrounded by rice paddies glow pink in the darkness in Mihama, Fukui Prefecture. Blue and red LEDs, which together make the pink light, were introduced in four greenhouses by agricultural firm Mugendai Co. in the town in 2017 to supplement the natural supply of sunlight. Currently, the light gets turned on in two greenhouses between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Red light is said to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis, and blue light to make plants take in more carbon dioxide than usual by opening their stomas wider. A total of some 100 metric tons of the tomatoes, said to have higher "umami" content than conventionally grown tomatoes, are shipped to Osaka, Tokyo and within Fukui Prefecture annually under the brand name "Akai Suzu" (red bell). The company's president said, "We hope people will look beyond the unusual color, and take this as a proof of farmers' efforts to make the best of the relationship between plants and light."

    (Japanese original by Naohiro Yamada, Osaka Photo Department)

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